SMC TO HOST FIRST NFL SPORTS JOURNALISM BOOT CAMP
| by Kelsey Rentner, ’14
The NFL Sports Journalism and Communication Boot Camp aims to help 24 current and recently retired NFL players transition to a career beyond football by focusing on improving each player’s writing skills for newspapers, radio and the expanding digital media industry.
This boot camp is one of six new camps added to the NFL’s Player Transition Program this year, which brings the total number of camps to 10. Other boot camps include Business Management & Entrepreneurial Program, Broadcast Boot Camp, Business of Music Boot Camp, Franchising Boot Camp, Hospitality & Culinary Management Workshop, NFL-NCAA Champion Forum, NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy, NFL-NCAA Future Football Coaches Academy, and Pro Hollywood Boot Camp.
As part of sports journalism camp, players will take a trip to a Toledo Mud Hens game, which will include a mock press conference; write and record their own radio commentary; and take part in a mock press with BGSU head football coach Dave Clawson.
Faculty members from other NFL boot camps and BGSU faculty members and alumni will be teaching workshops sessions during the camp, along with former players who are now journalists. Some of these include Matt Bowen of the Chicago Tribune, Matt Chatham of the Boston Herald, and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com and NFL Network.
The idea of the camp began when Rob Morrissey, the NFL director of Player Engagement, contacted consultant Dick Maxwell in August of 2012 with the idea of starting a sports journalism boot camp.
Maxwell helped coordinate the broadcasting camps in Philadelphia following his retirement from the NFL in 2006. Maxwell agreed and chose his alma mater, BGSU, as the host site.
Maxwell, a 1970 graduate, put the curriculum together, as well as coordinated outside professionals who would teach workshops. “I was honored to be able to start this connection between the NFL and my alma mater,” Maxwell said. “I knew that Bowling Green would provide not only great support for the program, but excellent faculty.”
Terry Rentner, director of the School of Media and Communication, was enthusiastic about hosting the camp. “BGSU is both honored and thrilled to welcome the inaugural NFL Sports Journalism and Communication Boot Camp to our campus,” she said. “We have both highly skilled professors and alumni teaching interactive sessions and providing excellent instruction in the fast-changing sports media industry.”
As the faculty coordinator for this event, Rentner selected the faculty members to lead workshops in journalism ethics, social media and multimedia skills. Faculty members will assist the players in writing two columns and a radio commentary.
Professor James Foust, who will teach a session on creating blogs and other multimedia content, said: “It will be an exciting yet challenging task of taking the content I teach in my classes at BGSU and adapting it to a different audience. It’s cool knowing that what I teach in my class is relevant to an event like this.”
Students, who had to be recommended by the chair of their department, will also be involved. They will help groups of players navigate around campus, coordinate transportation and supply logistical support.
According to Maxwell, including students among faculty members is important because they will all help this event run smoothly.
As the boot camp approaches, participants are working closely with the NFL, the athletic department, and other university areas to coordinate this event.
“It is exciting that we are able to showcase BGSU as one of the top journalism, public relations, communications, telecommunications and sports management programs in the nation,” Rentner said. “We expect this to be the permanent home for the NFL Sports Journalism and Communication Boot Camp.”
The boot camp will also help support the Richard A. Maxwell Sports Media Project, a joint program of the journalism and public relations and sports management departments created in 2011.
The Maxwell Project includes an academic sports media watch blog, a speaker series of prominent sports media professionals, and student scholarships.