“100% of Professional Athletes Ultimately Experience Job Termination,” I frequently chant. 25% are bankrupt within the first year out, 60% to 80% get divorced, and over 75% go broke within two years out.
As creator and host of the FROM GLORY DAYS TV SHOW I have the honor of sitting down with many former professional athletes. I’ve listened to the personal stories of Hall of Fame, All-Star, and World Champion former athletes as they’ve transitioned from the pinnacle of their pro sports careers back into normal, everyday lives. Needless to say, I’m unable to take my hosting position lightly, but because of much preparation and focus I’m able to enjoy the process throughout.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my friends….preparation is the foundation of any sports broadcast. Detroit Pistons TV broadcasters, Greg Kelser and George Blaha have taught me this the most. The hours of prep they put into every NBA broadcast inspired me to be as thorough with my own TV show. Simply showing up at the studio to interview my guests just doesn’t happen. Once our guests are secured I’ll spend hours per athlete, scouring their sports history from high school through their final days as a professional, looking for any fact or angle that would make interesting conversation.
As an example, I was able to find a minor detail about 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tiger, Dave Bergman and posed it as an opening question for the show. The question was just enough to cause Dave to pause and think, and then opened a flood gate of dialogue about this detail and beyond. In that moment my hours of research paid off.
Another example came during my research for Episode 4 when I discovered NCAA Champion and former NBA star, Terry Mills had a post sports involvement in drag racing. Imagining a 6’10” body strapped inside a low flying rocket and racing down a quarter-mile track made for some great discussion while being insightful and entertaining to our studio audience and viewers.
Not all of my preparation finds humor or fun facts about my guests, as discovered when interviewing a former NFL quarterback in Episode 6. Sadly, this guest’s transition from sports included bankruptcy, jail, and the suicide of his 15 year old son. Our discussion took great sensitivity on my part while the tape was rolling, but ultimately led to my guest sharing his current involvement as an advocate for depression as he travels and speaks throughout the country.
I also discovered no matter how much time I spend on preparation, sometimes things just happen and I have to go with the flow. This couldn’t have been truer than during Episode 2 and my interview with 1968 World Series Champion, Jim Northrup. Partway through our taping we got onto the topic of dairy farming (Jim grew up on a farm, but also worked in the cattle business following his pro sports career). In response to his comment, ‘anyone can milk a cow’ I simply responded with doubt of my own ability. To the studio audience and my surprise, Jim elaborated about the process including details of grabbing the ‘tits’ of the cow and pulling until milk starting coming out. Once I stopped laughing out loud I regrouped and continued the interview, trusting our fine editing crew would eloquently remove his explicative of the cow’s certain anatomy. When I see this particular clip now I can’t help but laugh again, but understand preparation is not simply enough and a second key item is needed.
The second key element, in addition to preparation, is the ability to focus, tuning-in to the moment while listening to every word and phrase. Remaining disciplined and controlling my thoughts from wondering more than one or two questions ahead. This conscious choice allows me to live in the moment, waiting to pounce on an elaborative opportunity that might normally be glossed over or missed. I find this skill particularly important since many professional athletes have vast media experience and tend to go into “media mode” or autopilot.
My ability to focus and remain in the moment gave me the opportunity to inquire further on Episode 1 with NCAA Champion and former NBA player, Greg Kelser. As mentioned earlier, Greg is now a NBA TV broadcaster and no-doubt a media pro. Not only did I have the challenge of trying to get Greg out of “media mode” from his days as a professional athlete, but even more so as someone who is in front TV cameras on a daily basis. I opened the show by asking what it’s like being on the other side of the microphone, being interviewed, versus interviewing others like he now does professionally. Greg was quick to respond, “I’m very comfortable over here because I simply need to answer the questions, I don’t have to think them up.” Focusing on the word, ‘comfortable’ I sprung immediately into another angle of the same question, asking what the most uncomfortable he’s been as a broadcaster on my side of the microphone. From this question we were able to listen as Greg shared his challenges as a broadcaster that I’m convinced we wouldn’t have heard if I glossed past this opportunity and went on with my next line of questioning.
Listening demonstrates our ability to focus and during Episode 8 it wasn’t me but a studio audience member who listened intently to our NFL Super Bowl Champion guest. As a result, the audience member was able to ask an insightful question during our studio audience “Q & A” segment of the show, which lead into a revealing answer about the Super Bowl game that I didn’t even know.
Being the host of the FROM GLORY DAYS TV SHOW is a very rewarding and enjoyable position. I’m unable to imagine doing anything else in the TV business right now, but understand the amount of preparation and focus it takes for each broadcast to be successful. Lessons I’ve learned from others who’ve been there before, and lessons that allow me to enjoy the process that much more.
Kurt A. David played professional basketball in Europe and now possesses an advanced degree in counseling. His bestselling book, FROM GLORY DAYS – Successful Transitions of Professional Detroit Athletes, chronicles the lives of twenty former Detroit Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings, and Lions as they’ve transitioned from pro sports careers back into normal, everyday lives. Kurt possesses solid experience with TV, Radio, and Print media, which includes appearances on Sirius XM Radio, CBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates, as well as articles in Men’s Health Magazine, and much more. Kurt A. David resides in Metro Detroit with his wife and two young daughters where he’s a Nationally Certified Sports Counselor, Bestselling Author, Transition Consultant for Professional & Olympic Athletes, and Host/Producer of the FROM GLORY DAYS TV SHOW.
You can find out more at: www.fromglorydays.com