How It All Began

In 1976, I acquired the radio rights to broadcast from the PGA Tour’s Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open and hired golfing buddy Bill Rasmussen to anchor the coverage. He and my golfing mentor, J.R. Burrill, a protégé of Tommy Armour, were on the air and I produced content for them. It was a blast — and innovative.

Two summers later, Bill got fired from his Hartford Whalers play-by-play gig and he called me to ask this question: Do you think all-sports television will work? For this media, gym and golf course rat, it was an easy and loud YES!

Bill and his son had already begun to build what later would become ESPN and invited me to be its executive producer. My job was to put together a team of creative types who could develop content for the voracious appetite of a 24-hour sports channel.

Knowing What I Know Today…

…I would have a lot more hair and fewer recoveries if iMapMyTeam technology had been available to guide me.

There were some real dunderheads who made it through my flimsy recruiting practices. It all happened so incredibly fast — from our fledging first demo-cast on November 17, 1978, to our official sign-on for round-the-clock sports on September 7, 1979. The crew that started as a handful of visionaries grew to hundreds overnight. Today it is thousands.

For an entity that glorified the heroics of teams, the organization’s teams were chaotic, to be kind. The start-up attracted strong-minded people, many of whom, self-included, carted their cheering-has-stopped jock egos to work in wheelbarrows.

Heaven help the bean counters — who ultimately won — when one of us sports junkies didn’t get our way. Managers and marketers didn’t fare much better in those fledgling moments —until the big money came along and shanghaied to ESPN a cadre of NBC executives who knew what they were doing.

Then and Now

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I was the pen-slinger hired to write and produce golf instruction for the company marketing the Moe Norman method of ball striking, where I met Connie Charles and her early iteration of iMapMyTeam, the incredible online software that would have helped me soothe the early ESPN savages.
I really admired her “guerrilla tactics of using golf as bait” to introduce her true science to executives. Connie became renowned for making disparate workplace personalities get along and work well together, a formula she provided to the highest level at Fortune 100 companies.

When she hit a time and energy wall, she took a step back, bet the farm on putting her genius online so it became scalable, and voila:

So let me ask you a question: Do you think there is an “I” in team? I do, and I wish there was then.

From the book Back on Course: Drive Business Performance Through Golf – By Connie Charles and Dave Bisbee

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