Speech from outgoing APSE President Jeff Rosen at 2018 Summer Conference Awards Banquet on June 20:
Ten years ago, at an APSE Summer Conference much like the one we’re about to close out here tonight in the Music City, one of APSE’s past presidents strolled up to me, sized me up from ass to crown, and said:
Son, with shoes like those, you need to run for office.
But we need to do something about that jacket.
I have to admit, the shoes were pretty fierce: shiny, patent leather in a deep, cinnamon-brown. Bad-ass shoes, indeed.
But the jacket … well, the jacked was about four sizes too big – I was a pretty skinny dude at the time – with shoulders that appeared better suited for David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Also, it was made of some sort of tweedy material that looked like it was crafted from a burlap bag.
A fashion “don’t,” if you will.
That past APSE president was someone most of you know well – the one and only Garry D. Howard (I’m pretty sure he was the only one who would’ve referred to me as “son”).
This was in Minneapolis, downtown, and we happened to be staying near a discount department store called Saks-Off Fifth Avenue. I stopped in there later that afternoon and found myself a better-fitting coat. Slick and black, with more of a tailored look. I was pretty proud of myself, because it had been marked at like a thousand dollars originally, and I got it for 80 bucks.
Those who know me know I love a good sale. I am a cheap bastard.
Anyway, the tweed monstrosity found its way into a trash receptacle on my walk back to the hotel. And the next year, Garry saw me, said “Nice coat, son,” and nominated me to run for second vice president.
I can’t remember who won the election that year, but it wasn’t me. I was pretty down about that, and resolved I would never run again.
Flash forward about eight years, and my name again came up as a nominee. This time, the open spot was the office made vacant when Todd Adams was forced to resign his position after parting ways with UT-San Diego.
I felt awkward about running in that scenario, because I felt bad that Todd had been told he had to step aside. But run I did, and lo and behold, this time I was elected. As you know, Todd was subsequently re-elected not long after, and tonight ascends to first VP behind the man who succeeds me tonight, John Bednarowski. So good things do happen to nice people. And Todd.
The point of this story isn’t that wearing the right clothes gets a guy elected, though I do believe in dressing for success, and am grateful for Garry’s belief in me.
It’s that all of us need help along the way. Sometimes it’s fashion advice, sometimes it’s something deeper.
Thinking about my career, and my service to APSE – my life, really – is an exercise in humility and appreciation.
I wouldn’t be here today without my wife, Tammy. I’ve gone through some pretty down times in my life, and she’s been with me every step of the way. Tammy, please stand. You’re an unceasingly talented creator and nurturer and mother to our kids. And I love you madly and deeply.
Also here tonight is my oldest son, Hunter. He recently turned 21, so if he’s sipping a glass of wine right now, at least he’s doing it legally.
If you’ve been around APSE for a while, you know that I bring those guys and my other two kids, Sophie and Jake, to a lot of our functions. I know Jack and Colleen will remember them coming to sites all around the country since they were little. We tried raw oysters together in Boston, and Greek food in Detroit, and medicinal marijuana in San Diego.
Guys. I’m kidding.
But bringing the fam to APSE events has always felt right. Because really, this organization is more like extended family than anything else.
I told myself I shouldn’t start recognizing people by name tonight, because we inevitably leave people out when we do that, but a few shout-outs are no-brainers.
My main man Tommy Deas, who showed me how Southern Charm can salve pretty much any situation. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always piano wire.
Jorge Rojas, the Cuban Missile, my friend from one of the first APSE conferences I ever attended. It was a winter conference, so we were judging writing, and print sections.
Also in that judging room, back when we had five judges per group: Fred Faour, who wound up hiring me in Houston; Jeff Otterbein of the Hartford Courant; and Steve Hemphill of the Roanoke Times. Pretty august quintet. I felt like an ant in that room, but they all treated me like I really did have something to offer.
My deputy in KC, Chris Fickett, who has to be the hardest-working and most passionate man in sports journalism today. From Chris, I have truly learned to give myself entirely to the journalism. He is an incredible editor, and The Star, and APSE, would not be the same without him.
My boss in KC, and past APSE president, Mike Fannin. From Mike, I’ve learned so many things. He’s as talented and visionary a person as I’ve ever met, in any field.
Vahe Gregorian, one of my two insanely talented columnists, has taught me patience, and reaffirms almost daily the value of examining an issue from all sides before leaping into the fray. I tell you this with confidence: no nicer human being has ever won first place for column writing in APSE’s largest division.
The people who will succeed my on this stage over the next several years: John Bednarowski, Todd Adams and Lisa Wilson, who will be this organization’s first African-American woman as president …
Robert Gagliardi. Phil Kaplan. Mike Sherman. Michael Peters. Michael Anastasi. Gerry Ahern. Mary Byrne. Chris White. Carlton Thompson. Dan Cunningham. Jay Lee. Chris Barron. Chuck Stark. Matt Pranger. Kelly Owen. Allyn Harvey. Greg Lee.
The boys in Boston: Scott Thurston and Joe Sullivan. Jim Luttrell. Dana Sulonen, who – mark my words – will be our president one of these days. Jack and Colleen Berninger.
Our dynamic duo of Bill Eichenberger and Glen Crevier. Take a bow, Bill and Glen.
Not here but most deserving of a bow: my mom, Susan, who raised three hellions and did so single-handedly after my dad left us, and my adoptive mother, Jane Hermann, who showed me 25 years ago what a true, working journalist looked like in my first job out of college, at the Chaffee County Times in Colorado.
There are many, many more than that, too, people whose friendship and mentorship have made me the man I am today.
These are the people who make this organization the giant that it is, and will be for years to come.
We’ve had a good year here at APSE. We brightened our financial picture. We made our front door, apsportseditors.com, something to be proud of, with fresh content constantly, and a user-friendliness that will only broaden in time.
But there is so, so much more work ahead.
And it is some of the toughest, most challenging work we’ll ever face.
We remain an organization and industry in dire need of more diversity. Our Diversity Fellowship, and scholarship program, and the election of Lisa to office, are moves in the right direction.
But guys, this battle will never cease. We need to keep pushing, keep elevating, and never stop empowering. We can never get comfortable, because to champion change in this arena – truly, our most daunting challenge yet – it’s going to take every one of us in this room being vigilant, and exhaustive in our search for job candidates, and willing to sacrifice our time and other resources to be present on the campuses of our area’s colleges, and even high schools.
It’s up to each of us to help younger journalists, especially journalists of color, know they have a chance to do great things in this profession. And then, to give them that chance.
To all the younger journalists in the room tonight, it’s incumbent upon you to seek out these opportunities. To demand them. To be persistent. To take an opportunity when one comes your way and crush it. Own it. Redefine for all of us what sports journalism done at the highest level will look like next year, and five years from now, and decades from now.
When I look back on my year as APSE president – on my career, really – I’m reminded that nothing comes easily in our line of work. The pay isn’t great, especially as we’re starting out, and the hours aren’t particularly conducive to having a healthy home life. But it is possible to balance these things – to make your budget work, even if it’s on a shoestring. To carve out time to spend with those you love. To take care, most importantly, of yourself.
God has blessed me with many riches in my own life. Tammy is an example. Todd is another. Stop laughing.
And as I leave you tonight, your president for the last time, APSE is firmly on that list of blessings.
The past year has been one that I never will forget. I am so honored to have represented you. And I will be here as long as I have breath to support each and every one of you however I can.
Even if it’s just some common-sense fashion advice.