Art Berke is a sports career consultant and communications consultant. His work experience includes Major League Baseball, ABC Sports, Sports Illustrated and the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center among other employers. Currently he is the Managing Partner at Diamond Sports Careers.
Sam's Dream Blog: What’s your dream?
Art Berke: My goal, my dream was to work in sports. I was able to do that throughout my career. When I retired from Sports Illustrated after about 20 years in 2007, I was thinking about what I wanted to do. One of the things I wanted to do was give back to students who had the same aspirations as I had. I’ve always felt it was important to spend time with young people who just needed an encouraging word, a referral or some level of hope.
SDB: What is it about Diamond Sports Careers that makes you come alive?
Art Berke: It’s the reward you get from seeing the light bulb go on in someone’s head. It’s when you work with someone and have tried to help them along the way, then they land a job. It’s really the reward you get from helping these students realize their goals. A lot of them have nowhere else to turn and they need help. Everybody needs nurturing and everybody needs mentorship.
The role of being a mentor is important to me because I’m someone who really didn’t have any connections.
SDB: How did you go from having "no connections" to being involved in so many different facets of the sports industry?
Art Berke: When I wrote my first small story for the high school newspaper, I said, "This is what I want to do. It’s combining my passion with making a living." I wanted to be a sportswriter. I went to Indiana University, majored in journalism and was the editor of the college paper. As time went on, I had a couple of editorial jobs, one with a weekly football newspaper, the other with an encyclopedia company where I developed a sports encyclopedia for kids. At that point, I felt like my talents were more in line with the public relations/promotions end.
I think what turned everything around is that I made the decision to go the extra mile and attend a seminar that a minor league baseball executive, Dick King, was putting on in Cleveland. I was living in Columbus at the time. I drove up there and spent money I didn’t have. I came back and didn’t think anything more of it. Six months later, I got a call from Major League Baseball. They were looking for an assistant pr director and said that Dick King from the seminar had given them my name. The bottom line is that if I had not taken advantage of that weekend, I never would have made the connection and I never would have started with Major League Baseball. I was there for five years, I worked for ABC Sports for eight years, and I was at SI for almost 20.
SDB: What are some obstacles you have faced?
Art Berke: If a young person would look at my resume, he would think that it was an absolute easy road. However, there were a lot of bumps in the road in terms of measuring up and competing and working at the highest level. You had to work hard, you had to work smart, and you had to keep getting better and better.
SDB: What are some lessons you have learned to get over those bumps in the road?
Art Berke:It’s a cliché, but you need to show up. When I was at ABC, I worked with Howard Cosell on a magazine show he was doing. That was a difficult situation because of who he was and everything. When I left to take another job, I went in to talk with him and he was very complimentary. The one thing he said was, "You were always there. You were always there to help, and you were always there when I needed you." A lot of people take that for granted.
The fact is, I look at myself as someone who isn’t exceptionally talented at anything. I think I’m good at a lot of things. The one thing that I think I am perhaps better at than others is that I am always available. It doesn’t matter what time it is. If I’m needed, I am there. Some people think they work hard but they really don’t. They really don’t understand what real work ethic is. Working hard is very important, as is taking advantage of opportunities.
SDB: What’s next?
Art Berke: I want to continue doing projects I enjoy, and I want to continue working with young people.