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ESPN analyst Buster Olney visits campus for Career Spotlight series

In more than two decades covering professional baseball, ESPN senior analyst Buster Olney has seen some of the game's most poignant moments. He shared insights from his career and offered advice to future sports journalists on April 14 as Elon's Leisure and Sport Management Society Career Spotlight Speaker.

A lifelong baseball fan, ESPN's Buster Olney shared with students, faculty and staff some of his favorite moments covering the sport.

Olney, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, started his career with the Nashville Banner covering the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He later covered Cal Ripken's record-setting career for the Baltimore Sun and the New York Yankees' late-1990s dynasty as a beat writer for the New York Times. Since joining ESPN in 2003, Olney has provided content for a number of the network's platforms, including the "E:60" primetime newsmagazine. He began his presentation to Elon students, faculty and staff by showing a piece he wrote for the program in 2009 about Don Meyer, the winningest coach in NCAA men's basketball history, who was nearly killed in a car accident mere months before breaking the record. (To view the piece, click the link to the right.)

"I love writing about people," he said of the piece. "You're always looking for this type of story."

Following prepared remarks, Olney fielded questions on a range of topics, including:

  • what the move was like from newspapers to TV: "Everyone's not smooth like (former "SportsCenter" anchor) Dan Patrick - the biggest thing is you have to bring the information."
  • whether he thinks there will be a salary cap or spending parity in Major League Baseball: "It'll never happen - it's like asking for world peace."
  • his thoughts on the tabloidization of sports news: "For me, if it doesn't involve the play on the field, that's where the boundary is, but if it's on the police blotter, it's gonna be news."
  • baseball media's response to the performance-enhancing drugs era: "We as an industry blew the steroids story. ...We got caught up in getting one name instead of going for the big monster."

Finally, Olney offered some words of wisdom to the several aspiring sports reporters in the room.

"Just keep writing," he said. "I know it sounds cliche, but the information demand is there - information is the currency."

Before his address in LaRose Digital Theatre, Olney met with several classes in the School of Communications and the Department of Leisure and Sport Management. His visit was co-sponsored by the School of Communications, School of Education and Career Services.

Kristin Simonetti,
4/15/2010 8:22 AM