McMaster in Sports: Meet Sportsnet Producer Chris Black From failing engineering student to working on some of the biggest sporting events in recent history, Chris Black shares his journey and advice to students

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When Chris Black first started at McMaster University in 2002, he was chasing a career in engineering. By the time he graduated in 2006 he had a full time job, but not in engineering management like he originally thought. Black found himself as a story editor for TSN.

After barely making it out of his first year, Black soon realized that the engineering field was not for him so he made the switch to economics. With a lighter workload, Black began to find himself with a lot more time on his hands.

“I began writing for the Silhouette and eventually became the Sports Editor for two years,” said Black. “That led to doing some work for the McMaster athletic department, including game previews and recaps for football, basketball and volleyball programs and creating video highlights to send to sports networks.”

The years quickly passed and graduation arrived, leaving Black with a big decision to make. He could take a job waiting for him at the Bank of Montreal or he could pursue his dream to work in sports.

With sports analytics on the rise, more and more economics and finance graduates were beginning sports-related careers. Black decided to take a chance. Thanks to a contact at TSN, he was able to secure his full time editor role with no directly-related intern or freelancing experience.

“I was one of the lucky ones to get a full time job right away,” said Black. “If I could find a way to leverage my love for sports and passion for numbers and economics, I knew that would be a great job.”

Whether it was playing point guard for his high school basketball team or left field for his junior baseball team in Oshawa, sports has always been a huge part of his life. For Black, it was not that he wanted to completely depart from his degree in economics and minor in finance, but when he was working as a summer student for BMO, he found he was always aware of the clock.

“When I was working on sports for Mac or at the Sil, I could go in on publishing day and put in 12 hours and never even be aware of the clock,” said Black.

That is when he realized the value of working on something that you are truly passionate about.

Black currently is a Live Events Producer at Sportsnet. Thanks to sports, over the years he has found himself all over the world, from San Pedro Sula, Honduras for a World Cup qualifying match to the snowy mountains of Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Witnessing Canadian skeleton racer John Montgomery celebrate his gold medal by walking down the Whistler village with a beer in his hand and working on the last two Blue Jays playoff seasons are just some of the memories that he will never forget.

Meeting his heroes and working as colleagues with people whom he still watches and loves what they do athletically is just some of the perks of the job.

“Being witness to huge sporting events never gets old to me,” said Black.

For Black, the only drawback would be that sports happens on weekends and nights so he does not get to spend as much time with his family as he would like to. For him, that is the only drawback, but it is a big one.

So you want to work in the sports industry

As for giving advice to students who aspire to be in his position one day, to Black, being passionate is just the beginning of what it takes. He believes that one thing that truly sets you apart is hard work.

“Connections are great and they help, and I know everyone loves networking, that’s also great,” said Black. “But the only real way you can get ahead is by finding a way to work a little harder than everyone else.”

He also knows from first-hand experience how important it is to look at whatever job one may want and see what is not being down that they could do. When Black first started out, he would come out half an hour earlier to his shift than others to research everything he could about that game. That way, when anything would happen in the game that was mildly interesting, he was the one who knew all the angles around it.

Finally, Black advises students to be good writers and good communicators. Even though he works in television, what allowed him to move ahead quickly was good writing.

“TV isn’t about flowery language,” said Black, “It’s about learning how to tell a story in as few words as possible.”

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Author: Jessica Carmichael

Sharing the same birthday but not the same salary as Houston Rockets' Chris Paul, Jessica spends most of her days not practicing her free throw. In addition to studying communications and media, Jessica dedicates the majority of her time to flag football and watching an endless amount of sports documentaries. Looking for her own Last Chance U pet project, Jessica is committed to covering sports beyond the box score and faceless stats.