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Book Review: Sports Junkies Rejoice – The Birth of ESPN

I received a copy of Sports Junkies Rejoice back in June, right as I was studying for the Florida Bar Exam.  I intended to read the book upon sitting for the Bar, but found myself preoccupied with moving to a new apartment in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, traveling across the country for business and pleasure, and starting a new job as an attorney at KPW Law.  This past week, I did quite a bit of traveling, and finally got around to doing some non-business-related reading.  Sports Junkies Rejoice was actually the second book I finished, but will be the first of two that I review on Sports Agent Blog this week.

I have a history with ESPN’s founder, Bill Rasmussen, and his fantastic public relations consultant, Jim DeLorenzo.  I first met the two gentlemen at the 2008 Princeton Sports Symposium.  All of us immediately hit it off at the symposium, and Rasmussen agreed to serve as the Closing Speaker at the 2009 UF Sports Law Symposium.  It was fascinating to hear a brief recounting of the creation of ESPN.  There was no way that he could say everything there was to know about the company’s birth in the time that was allotted.  Thus, I was very excited to receive a copy of Sports Junkies Rejoice, which tells a story about ESPN that very few people know.

Sports Junkies Rejoice was actually first published in November 1983, four years after ESP Network (what it was called prior to ESPN) hit the air.  I did not even realize that what I was reading was published such a long time ago until I approached the end of the book.  In 1983, a hardback version was offered.  This is the first year that the paperback has been available.

Rasmussen must have kept a very detailed diary, because he recalls specific events and attaches dates for everything that happened leading up to the birth of ESPN.  If you pick up the book, you will find out how the idea for ESPN came about, the many trials and tribulations leading up to September 7, 1979, and even how Rasmussen was eventually pushed out of the company.

And my favorite part of the book (which I decided to read to the audience at my York College of Pennsylvania presentation last week) is the following:

As a general rule, I have discovered during my lifetime there are two approaches available for use when you have something to say:

  1. Be cautious, tentative and don’t rock the boat – someone may laugh at you; or
  2. exude confidence, be positive, believe that what you’re saying will be done, and, when people laugh at you, maintain your confidence.  Those people will soon discover that you were right.

The book is not expensive, either.  I think it would be a good gift for someone you know who loves sports and is addicted to ESPN.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.