Monday, June 15, 2009

IIATMS Interview: "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live"

Over the last nearly 18 months, I've been lucky enough to conduct interviews with some insiders within the game. From an agent (Matt Sosnick), players (Darryl Rasner, Eric Hacker), a former manager/player (Mike Hargrove), a professional writer (Jeff Pearlman), to a current assistant GM (Paul DePodesta). My goal is to bring you interesting perspectives from those in and around the game, people who you might not hear from every day. As always, I hope to continue to be so lucky to do more of these types of interviews.

My latest interview is with Robert Tuchman, founder and president of New York-based TSE Sports & Entertainment, a global leader in sports and entertainment promotion. He's also the Executive VP of the corporate division. In addition to being the leader of an organization responsible for corporate sponsorships and outings, Robert somehow found the time to write the book "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live". Click here for the website.

I choose Robert not merely because he wrote a book about the best sporting events to see live, but also because of his story about making it in the sports and entertainment industry.

About Robert Tuchman:

When Robert Tuchman graduated from college, Tuchman was quickly forced to abandon his dream of becoming a sports reporter. Applications to sports programs across the country were ignored and eventually he accepted a position as an investment advisor at Lehman Brothers in New York, followed by a stint Paine Webber.

Still wanting to break into the sports industry, he joined Sports Profiles after reading about them in Entrepreneur, working out of his apartment selling sports magazine advertisements. Quickly realizing that everyone to whom he sold ads wanted the perks (tickets to games or luxury trips to events) more then the ads, he decided to start a business that catered to this niche called Tuchman Sports Enterprises (TSE).

Within two years of working out of that tiny one-bedroom Upper East Side apartment, with one phone and a fax machine, his company was named to the annual Inc. 500 list of America's fastest growing privately held companies and as one of the top 100 promotion agencies by Promo Magazine.

He started TSE with no money and no investors and ended up selling it for millions of dollars to Premiere Global Sports. Last year PGS earned over $70 million dollars in sales. Robert Tuchman now serves as President of that division, still guiding his company in its new form.

So if you are curious about getting started in the sports & entertainment industry, which baseball game is the best event to see live, whether Wrigley is a better experience than Fenway, and dog owners who buy books, please read on and enjoy:

Background questions
  • It's About The Money, Stupid: Tell us how you got started in the corporate events business?

    Robert Tuchman: I always wanted to work in sports. I left Lehman Brothers after six months on the job after graduating school to follow my passion. Funny enough at the time this move was considered renegade and Lehman was the safe route. Well we all know what happened there!

  • IIATMS: How did you handle the fears and risks of starting your own business?

    RT: I tried to use the energy from those emotions to feed my desire to continue going even when things got very tough. I also realized that I had to get over those fears if I wanted to go after my dreams.

  • IIATMS: What’s the best lesson you can share?

    RT: Persistence is extremely important when starting a business. It’s a marathon so try and take a step forward each day. When you get knocked down, pick yourself off the mat and start again.

  • IIATMS: What advice could you offer for anyone interested in getting into your line of work?

    RT: Try and get in the door anywhere you can in the industry. Even if that means starting as an intern. We have hired many interns over the years. You will also get to see what is going on from the inside and determine where you want to be.

  • IIATMS: What sort of background would someone ideally like/need to have in order to be successful at your company?

    RT: Anyone who brings good energy and a can-do attitude is 95% there.

  • IIATMS: What’s the greatest misconception about your job?

    RT: That I get to hang out at the Super Bowl and the Final Four and have a blast. It's more work then fun, but I do get to have at least a little fun, so I can't really complain.

  • IIATMS: How many days a year are you on the road? More or less than prior years?

    RT: About the same. I would say a week out of the month is on the road.

  • IIATMS: Has the economy had a major impact on companies’ desires to use frontline sporting events as major schmoozing/relationship-building opportunities?

    RT: Certainly. We were hit pretty hard for a few months, but the business is starting to come back, which is nice to see.

Book-related questions

  • IIATMS: Have you personally attended every one of the events listed in “The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live”? How long did it take for you to see them all?

    RT: I wish. I am only at about 38. The most I have heard was Lesley Visser and her husband Dick Stockton with around 50. Also Harvey Schiller had close to 50.

  • IIATMS: If you haven't been to them all, how did you get to your final ranking?

    RT: A lot of research and speaking with people who have been to the events. Really just talking with those who have been or worked the events.

  • IIATMS: It’s difficult not to be a spoiler, but the Masters are your #1 event to see live in our lifetime. What if I am not into golf, watching golf, being around golfing fans wearing visors, etc.?

    RT: Funny thing is I am not a big golfer myself. This one is strictly about the venue and its beauty. Its really a magical place.

    [IIATMS edit: If anyone from Augusta National happens to wander on by, I'd love to come to the Masters. I just need tickets and access and I'll write up the whole thing. I'm serious. Hootie, email me!]

  • IIATMS: Number 9 on your list is Redsox/Yanks, at Yankee Stadium. As a Yankee fan, I understand this, but why “at Yankee Stadium”? Why not “at Fenway”? Would this change now given there’s a new Yankee Stadium? [As a parallel, the same goes for #30 Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs at Toronto , but not “at Montreal"]

    RT: Yankee fans [IIATMS edit: Don't blame me, Sox fans.]

  • IIATMS: Number 14 is any Cubs game at Wrigley. Is that really better than the Final Four or The Daytona 500? I haven’t been to all three of these, but it seems the drama of the other two would outweigh “any game” at Wrigley.

    RT: Without a doubt there is more energy and excitement at those events but a game at Wrigley sends you back in time. It's an incredible experience.

  • IIATMS: Speaking of both Fenway and Wrigley, is seeing a game at Wrigley (#14 overall) that much better than seeing a game at Fenway (#55)? Even as a Yankee fan, I love the Fenway experience. And if you have seats on the Monster (which I have had before), that’s about as good an experience as you can get.

    RT: Fenway is special. I actually worked there as a security guard one summer so I have been around the park many times. I have not had a chance to sit on the Monster, that seems like an awesome experience.

    The Wrigley experience though is more of a time machine event. You really feel like your back at the turn of the century watching baseball. It's as pure to the roots of the sport that I have gotten at the major league level.

  • IIATMS: Getting back to golf, the US Open sits at #64 on your list. I would have expected it to be higher, given that there tends to be a rowdiness factor that you don’t get at the British Open.

    RT: That is true but the British Open, especially when it is played on some of the older European courses is pretty cool. Plus, I had the Masters as number one so I had to give the Europeans something.

  • IIATMS: Could #1 overall be “Any golf event with Tiger in the Top 5 on Sunday”?

    RT: Funny enough, with out a doubt. Tiger has elevated golf and interest in the sport, especially at the Masters, more then anyone. In fact, without Tiger, I don’t think I would have selected the Masters number one.

  • IIATMS: Westminster Dog Show? At #93? Ahead of Men’s Lacrosse Championship (#95), the College Baseball World Series (#96)? Really?

    RT: It's amazing how many people love dogs, and they like to buy books.
About attending any of these events
  • IIATMS: What are the best tricks to landing tickets to any of these events if you a) aren’t flush with money, b) not getting tickets from your employer, c) not well connected?

    RT: Box office day of is always a possibility. Tickets get held back sometimes or released late so you never know. Companies like are good to buy market value tickets.

  • IIATMS: What’s the best event to attend if you are: a) looking for rowdiness, b) not looking for rowdiness, c) looking for a unique experience, d) looking to impress a client/partner?

    a) Hong Kong Sevens
    b) Little League World Series
    c) Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest
    d) Super Bowl

  • IIATMS: What are the most accessible events in the US ? Meaning: ease of getting there, ease of getting a ticket, etc.? (Perhaps by region of the US : NorthEast, SouthEast, West, South)

    NorthEast: Head of the Charles Regatta
    SouthEast: Bayou Classic
    West: UCLA/USC @ Pauley Pavilion
    Midwest: Little 500
Bonus Question:
  • IIATMS: Are you hiring? How can someone break into the business with your Company?

    RT: Not right now with the downturn, but we will be I am sure pretty soon. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door.

Please visit Amazon if you are interested in buy the book. It's not merely a ranking; it's also a great travel guide for each of the events. {Disclaimer: I do not make any commission off any sales of the book}

Each Ranked Event contains the following sub-sections: Where, When, Significance, Who attends, History, Notable Athletes/MVPs, Records, Things to know before you go, How to get there, Tickets, Accomodations, On-Site hospitality, Travel packages, Dining.

Thanks again to Robert Tuchman for his time.


Ron Rollins said...


Anonymous said...

Whenever I see a book like this (i.e. "Top 100 Whatever") I always focus more on the content of the entries than the actual ranking itself. They had to rank it in some order that is completely subjective, so I don't ever get offended if they pick Wrigley over Fenway or the Daytona 500 over the Indy 500. And I am glad that the entries include advice on getting there. I may just go out and get this book.