Swinging for the Fences: How I Started My Own Sports Law Video Blog and Succeeded

Author: Tony Iliakostas, Career Advice

The year was 2011. It was my first year at New York Law School and just prior to starting law school, I had a vision of being a sports agent. This only happened after I watched Jerry Maguire. But once I started law school, read/watched commentary about the sports agent business and even talked to some sports agents, I realized that this wasn’t an industry cut out for me.

Being a sports agent meant being cutthroat and at times unethical — values that fundamentally went against who I was as a person. As a 22-year-old who had just graduated from Fordham University, I needed to get my foot in the door in the sports law industry. Otherwise, I’d be in a scenario that other millennials my age would be in: either unemployed or in a job that I’d be very unhappy in. And given what a niche industry sports law was, and still is, I needed to figure out a way to make my brand stick out from everyone else’s. It wasn’t until November 2011 that I had an epiphany that changed everything.

Being that I was a communications major from Fordham, I thought that the most prudent and effective way for me to break into the sports law industry was to talk about it.

My initial research showed that sports law blogging existed, so my idea wasn’t totally far-fetched. The problem was that there were so many sports law blogs out there and I easily became discouraged. And then it dawned on me. I had a Kodak Zi6 lying around, a Blue Snowball microphone, a Macbook Pro, a tripod and an iPad. I thought to myself, “what about a sports law video blog?” After all, no such thing existed. So with my Blue Microphone connected to my MacBook, my iPad used as a teleprompter for my script and my Kodak mounted on my tripod, my sports law video blog, “Law and Batting Order” was born.

The premise of Law and Batting Order, or LABO for short, was simple: to tell a story about a major or minor legal issue in sports that mainstream media, like ESPN or Fox Sports, may have touched on but not explained fully.

Since the start of LABO, I’ve covered an assortment of sports and a garden variety of legal issues, from what a jurisdiction’s rule is on rape to labor peace issues in major sports leagues to big name athletes involved in crimes like domestic violence or even murder. My goal is to speak to a legal and non-legal audience in a way that they would understand what the heck I’m talking about. I get rid of the legalese and explain the law as if I were talking to a five-year-old.

LABO has proven to be a valuable resource to many in the sports law community and abroad. It’s thanks to viewers’ support that LABO just turned five years old on December 23.

Starting and operating my very own sports law video blog was and still is an intensive process. I’m basically a one-man band. I write, film, edit and market all my own content. I don’t outsource my material to a third party. I also don’t have the money to help fund a team to help cut my workload to half. At the same time, creating and running LABO has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

As a millennial making his mark in the sports law world, LABO has allowed me to interview some prominent sports executives and sports law experts. I’ve had the privilege of attending events such as the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida and even chatting with a courtroom sketch artist who sketched during the Deflategate trial. LABO has also served as a great conversation starter at networking events I’ve attended. I should also add that my writing and orating skills have improved exponentially thanks to LABO.

I consider myself a citizen journalist in some way, and I have acquired a true appreciation of the trials, tribulations and valuable experiences that professional journalists experience today. Just like a professional journalist, it is my goal to tell a story in a clear manner, raise the important issues when needed, and tell the truth as it is without sugar-coating any details. I’m thankful that LABO has served as that vehicle for me.

I’ve talked to many college and law students who perpetually ask me: “what can I do to be like you?” I give the same advice over and over again: build your brand by doing something unique and creative.

Millennials get a bad reputation for being “entitled” and thinking that everything will be served to them on a silver platter. And while there are some who indeed have that mindset, I’m happy to report that not all millennials are like that. Many realize the value of hard work. Many understand that you have to earn your stripes to earn an ounce of respect in this world. I’ve learned that after having done many internships in college, law school and now as a working man in the real world.

Remember that you are your own salesperson, so it’s up to you to tell your future colleagues, future bosses and the world why you’re special and what you bring to the table that differentiates you from the bunch. I realized that “loving sports” wasn’t an effective way to sell my brand in the sports law world. But telling people I was a self-starter by creating my own sports law video blog made me, as a millennial, a unique person from other students in my position. I’m thankful that I was ambitious and not afraid to challenge myself in this regard.

To any millennial afraid to take a chance on something career-oriented, I implore you to take that leap of faith. Be bold. Be different. It sounds like a cliché, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I did and it has paid off. I’m certain it will for you too, and I’ll be rooting from the sidelines for your success.

And if all this talk about sports law has you intrigued, please check out Law and Batting Order and follow LABO on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And feel free to connect with me individually on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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