Last Saturday, the Brooklyn Nets hosted their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at which the team honored Dr. King’s lasting impact and inspiration. A group of students from Good Shepherd Services, a youth development and family service agency, attended the game. Also part of the MLK celebration, last week a group of employees in the Brooklyn Nets’ Black Alliance Network participated in a virtual panel discussion with the group from Good Shepherd to discuss career paths in the sports industry.
“A lot of times I find myself talking to people who are in college and often they’re already in sports management programs,” said Adina Erwin, general manager of Barclays Center, home of the Nets. “Whereas in high school and some of the younger people, they haven’t figured it out and they’re not exposed to information about how they can get involved.”
The panelists described careers in the sports industry from creative design to operations to finance to sponsorships to arena management. They also discussed how the Black Alliance Network enables them to find a support system among other people of color working in the Nets organization and BSE Global.
“Sharing their stories and journeys and how that got them to work at Barclays Center,” said Veronica, 16, an aspiring graphic artist who participated in the discussion and felt a connection to the experiences of the panelists. In particular, a creative director spoke about how his interest in art fueled him.
Erwin told the students that she wanted to be a guiding light for girls of color to see what is possible. “Making sure that I do my job well so that little brown girls can see me in these spaces,” said Erwin. “When you see other people who look like you in spaces, then even subconsciously you begin to think, ‘I might be able to do this.’
“The second is to get opportunities like we did with Good Shepherd to have conversations with girls about all the different opportunities that exist in this space,” she added.
The panelists also explained that there are possibilities to work in and around sports that do not involve a college degree. Mentoring is important regardless of the career path. “Once you get into these spaces, you need to be able to call on someone to help you navigate, to answer questions and be honest and authentic,” said Erwin.
“The panel discussion helped me think about preparing myself for the future by knowing that others are facing the same situation,” said Veronica. “Hearing their stories and what got them to be the best of themselves uplifts me and makes me feel that I can make my dreams come true.”