Alumni Panelists Discuss Sports Careers

Speaking at a panel in the Science Center on Tuesday about careers in sports management, former Crimson pitcher William “Ben” Crockett ’02 paused for a long moment before answering a question about his days working as a front office intern with the Boston Red Sox.

Crockett leaned back in his chair, stroked his temple, and finally said, “In my first year as an intern, I started in February, and I had my first day off during the All-Star break in July. Working 100-hour weeks was the norm with a stipend that, at the time, was below minimum wage.”

But Crockett said that the long hours of his job were worthwhile and ultimately rewarding. Today, he is Director of Player Development for the Red Sox.

Crockett was joined on the Harvard Alumni Association-sponsored panel by three other alumni, all of whom have also parlayed successful Harvard athletic careers into new professional jobs in the world of sports management.

Panelist and former Crimson shortstop Edwin “Ed” M. Durso ’75, now the executive vice president of ESPN, echoed Crockett’s comments about the work ethic required to move up in the industry.

“Where I worked, 100-hour weeks were expected,” Durso said. “If you didn’t do that, they’d pick up the phone and ask ‘Where’s the next person in line?’”

Panelists also characterized sports management as an industry in which athletic excellence need not be a prerequisite for employment. All of them told stories about their own winding paths to post-college sports management careers.

Originally drafted by the Red Sox in the tenth round in 2001, Crockett chose to return to Harvard for his senior year and was then drafted in the third round by the Colorado Rockies in 2002. Crockett was a minor league shortstop for the Rockies’ farm affiliates for four years, logging starts for twelve different teams and making a AAA appearance in 2005. After being released in 2006, Crockett played independent ball before taking an internship with the Red Sox in 2007.

Durso—who entered the sports world first as a television reporter but got his first job with the Red Sox as a lawyer—also said there is not just one way to get into sports. Pointing out that only one person can reach the privileged positions of owner or general manager, Durso advised students not to narrow their focus and instead follow their passions to get a job in the industry.

Panelist Angela M. Ruggiero ’02, a four-time Olympic medalist who was on the Olympic women’s hockey team as a high school teenager, now works on the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Association. Recalling what she described as a “pack mentality” at Harvard in thinking about post-college employment, Ruggiero encouraged students to pursue their passions instead of the careers of others.

“One thing I’ve tried to do my entire life, both as an athlete and then professionally in business, is trust myself,” Ruggerio said. “People have been telling me my entire life to do things, but I learned to listen to myself.”

—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at davidfreed@college.harvard.edu.

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