Having Paid His Dues, Alumnus Gets to Live and Breathe Sports
By Chloe Meyere, Duck Career Network Communications Associate and UO Student
Gil Beverly, MBA ’03
Senior Director of Sports Management, ESPN
UO alumnus Gil Beverly remembers the Chicago Bears games he attended as a child, sparking a lifetime passion for sports. This passion fuels his work today and his commitment to the career he has built in sports marketing and business.
During his mid-twenties, Beverly was inspired by the friendship he developed with Jim Warsaw at the University of Oregon. Warsaw convinced Beverly to attend UO’s Lundquist College of Business MBA Program, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, starting Beverly on a path towards success. Upon graduation, Beverly obtained a position at the NFL, where he worked for two years. Shortly after leaving the NFL, he began working at ESPN. Six years later, he became ESPN’s Senior Director of Sports Management, the position he still holds today.
Beverly sheds light on what it’s like to be at ESPN and gives insight to working successfully in the industry, saying “Business is business, even in sports marketing. People have to approach it like any other job; they need to be business people, not just sports fans.” He is very clear that if someone isn’t enjoying the work, they will only go so far.
Although loving sports is a key component of enjoying this work, he reiterates that the glitz and glamour is barely five percent of the job. His role sits between advertisers and content producers and facilitating a conversation between the two. Therefore, a typical day consists of producing ideas that could be sold to an advertiser and thinking long term on how to approach the marketplace.
For example, Beverly describes an event that, although pre-dates his arrival at ESPN, exemplifies what his job entails. Many years ago when ESPN designed “College GameDay,” it was people like Beverly who created the relationship between the Home Depot and ESPN, working to integrate advertising into the GameDay program. Today Beverly is working on the future College Football Playoff, FBS college football’s long-awaited playoff system. Beverly is investigating how to incorporate an advertiser’s product into this event and pitching his solutions to both clients and producers.
In sports business, it is crucial to understand that very few get to “skip to the front of the line.” Beverly knows he would have never known such success if it had not been for the hard work he put in. “I started as an intern,” he explains, “I did whatever I was told to do, and honestly, I would have done my internship for free. I don’t ever forget that; everyone has to do it.” He describes the long hours as a method of “paying his dues,” a humbling experience all aspiring candidates must have. Additionally, these initial steps allow people to learn the skills that produce a successful business person. It teaches people to know their product, their clients, and the story they’re trying to communicate. It also gives them the ability to acquire the knowledge they’ll need for a smart approach to the industry.
People like Beverly, serious and committed to prioritizing the work associated with sports business, will find the most success in the field. It took a lot of hard work, but Beverly knows his journey was worth it and feels very thankful for the opportunities he’s been given. Today, he is working doing what he loves most: living and breathing sports.