You're not supposed to know this, but I saw Marc J. Spears cry.
Well, maybe it's more accurate (just slightly) that he choked up, but what can be said for sure is that it was certainly an emotional, powerful and touching moment when the longtime NBA writer was elected president of the Sports Task Force at this month's National Association of Black Journalists convention.
Marc's journey to Philadelphia as the leader of one of NABJ's largest and most important groups began at San Jose State, where he had big dreams but not the advantage of a degree from an elite journalism school or a big-time internship.
He knew he had to work his way up.
"All I wanted," Spears said, "was for someone to give me a chance."
Today, Spears, who writes for Yahoo! Sports, is one of the nation's most influential and successful journalists covering the NBA. Yahoo hired him from the Boston Globe and before that he wrote for the Denver Post. And, I am proud to say, he was for a time my colleague at the Los Angeles Daily News.
What struck me about Marc's story is how much it typified so many of those I heard throughout my three days at NABJ. Personal stories of inspiration. Personal stories of courage and determination. Personal stories of what can be accomplished with just a little encouragement, support and guidance.
I appreciated Marc's reflections and thought of a former prominent sports editor who once complained to me how arduous he believed attending APSE events had become because he felt besieged by young editors hitting him up for jobs and career advice.
I was taken aback by the comment then, and still am, because it has always seemed to me that if you are fortunate enough to be in such a position, then it is an privilege to help those who are following.
Spears felt the same way. As he took a moment to collect himself as he stood on the podium, remembering where he came from, Marc challenged both those in the room and beyond to never become so self-important that you can't help those who need it, those who are looking for someone to give them a chance.
To that end, I'm pleased to announce that APSE will be conducting resume reviews and career feedback sessions at our winter conference in Orlando. Partly, we want to continue to make our conferences can't-miss invaluable. But also, the industry is changing so fast that it's important we help members ensure they are showcasing the right skills and accomplishments, or point out areas to target for improvement. It's important that APSE is an integral part of each individual's growth.
Spears' election wasn't the only significant one in Philadelphia.
Greg Lee, the senior assistant sports editor of the Boston Globe, a leader of the Sports Journalism Institute, and longtime member of APSE, became NABJ president, the organization's highest office. Not many people know that Greg was a member of SJI's first graduating class.
His ascension, of course, is a credit to his leadership skills and experience. It also shows how important a role sports journalism plays in a digital future. And where someone can go with just a little help and encouragement.