By Jane Wu Brower • May 05, 2016•Careers, Other Career Issues, Issues, Mentoring and Networking
Three years ago, I was a litigation associate at a big law firm in New York City. I was living every young lawyer’s dream: working on complex, high-profile cases, including one representing Major League Baseball. As a part of my job, I was expected to hobnob with C-suite executives at MLB and attend business development dinners with high profile sports clients and law firm partners. All the while, I was on pins and needles that they would discover my big secret.
I knew nothing about sports.
When I was growing up, sports simply were not valued. My parents were first-generation Chinese immigrants and they focused me towards classwork and other studies that they thought would provide me the best return on investment for my career. Sports, in their eyes, were a frivolous pursuit and were not a good use of my time. It wasn’t long after entering the corporate world that I realized there were real downsides to having missed the boat on sports for the past two decades.
Sports are quickly moving to the forefront of watercooler conversation. Gone are the days when everyone would chat about the latest episode of Seinfeld every Friday morning. In recent years, people have developed wildly divergent tastes in media ranging from Netflix original programs to YouTube superstars. Sports are one of the few remaining topics of conversation that are ubiquitous.
It was around this time that I realized there were probably a lot of people in my position. People who had not shown any interest in sports growing up and simply carried that over to adulthood as easily as a dislike of broccoli or shellfish. Sports were something that they quickly dismissed as something they didn’t like, without a second thought. By the time they may have wanted to give sports a second try in adulthood, it may have felt out of reach or intimidating because of others’ vast institutional sports knowledge.
I thought there was a need in the marketplace for a product that could make sports fun and accessible for anyone who wanted to learn more. This product could help ambitious young professionals, sports novices, or casual sports fans alike to stay on top of daily sports news.
This idea stuck with me for the next several years, and just this year I decided to take the leap and create Goalposte, a daily newsletter that summarizes the top sports news of the day. I focus on topics that I think will be interesting for all readers, including overarching storylines, captivating personas, and putting statistics into context.
In particular, Goalposte’s mission is to help level the playing field for young professional women, who are more likely to feel alienated in sports conversations with coworkers, bosses, interviewers, and clients. A 2015 Gallup Poll shows that there is a tangible gender gap in sports fandom with 76% of men earning over $75,000 describing themselves as sports fans, whereas only 56% of similarly high-income women would describe themselves as such. This, combined with the fact that only 14% of top executives are women, means that more often than not, ambitious young women are interfacing with men at the top of their companies. Women who may feel left out of the conversation when it turns to sports, as it often does.
To be clear, I do not think that anyone should have to be something that they are not or learn sports when they know that they genuinely have no interest. But if you have ever wanted to get into sports but found it inaccessible or intimidating, I’m here to tell you it’s never too late to get into the game.