The Alabama Program in Sports Communication kicked off the academic year with a visit from ESPN Vice President for Corporate Communication, Chris LaPlaca. LaPlaca has been with ESPN for over 38 years, serving in various capacities as the sports media giant has evolved.
LaPlaca spoke candidly to a student audience of all C&IS majors, sharing memories about ESPN’s path to notoriety, the relationship between sports and politics, and how they should seize opportunities now that will secure their future success in a variety of industries.
“Have a genuine agenda for every moment and in every opportunity you have, make a connection,” said LaPlaca. “You never know how the people you meet now can help you one day, so be purposeful in everything you do.”
Students present at the event asked LaPlaca questions about ESPN, building a writing portfolio and how to best prepare for careers in the sports media world. LaPlaca admitted that ESPN does not usually hire students fresh out of college, and encouraged students set themselves apart from their competition by pursuing internships and other learning opportunities, and making mistakes that they can turn into growing experiences.
LaPlaca challenged students with the mindset and determination behind much of ESPN’s decision making. Generally speaking, “You get to a certain point where you’re successful and you want to maintain what you have. [At ESPN], we have never done that,” said LaPlaca. “We shoot high. Sometimes we miss, and when we do, we learn from that.”
The Alabama Program in Sports Communication provides the opportunity to connect sports communication programs and emphases in the College of Communication and Information Sciences and in many other Colleges at the Capstone. The APSC offers public events, highlights research and creative projects, and facilitates advanced discussions of communication and sport issues throughout the community and throughout the nation. To learn more about the APSC, visit their website.