‘The label isn’t the thing’: FOX Sports SVP Talks Character
Brian Strong ’00 is a perfect example of someone who took a passion and made it his career. He works as senior vice president of brand communications at FOX Sports.
“At the core of this job is sports, which is something I’ve always been passionate about. I still find myself as passionate about the game at home watching with my kids as I do working on something like the World Cup. I can stand in the production truck and see it from one angle and appreciate the work that other people do to bring me the sports I’ve always loved watching, and I still get chill bumps watching sports on the job.”
The FIFA World Cup is Brian’s favorite sporting event.
“It’s so global and it’s such a pop culture moment. It reminds us how interconnected we can be globally and spiritually through sports, and I love that. It’s a proud moment for me to be able to say I’ve worked on things like that at a couple different places. I’m already pumped for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.”
Brian says his career hasn’t necessarily been linear, but his love for sports was piqued at least in part by a Morehead-Cain summer working for a community camp in Oakland.
“We got taken to a Giants game, hosted by Bobby Evans ’91, now the team’s general manager. He showed us around. I may not have gone into baseball, but it gave me access to what you can do behind the scenes in sports. It put a bug in the back of my head.”
Brian says he’d been looking for volunteer opportunities in recent months and was honored when the Foundation asked him to serve as Forum co-chair. So far, his favorite part of the role is brainstorming with the Alumni Forum Advisory Committee.
“It’s a lot of fun. It gives you a sense of this community’s breadth of intelligence, passion, and ideas.”
Believe it or not, this October will be Brian’s first Forum.
“I’ve heard there are really good and raw and honest conversations that come out of the Forum. People feel like they can let their guards down and talk about important or sensitive things. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more open to that kind of thing, and I appreciate being in human environments like that where people talk about not only the things that make them great but also the things that make them not so great: the challenges and the mistakes.”
For Brian, the nation’s tense political climate makes this aspect of the Forum especially meaningful.
“I know we’ll come together in this smart, effective, potentially emotional way—so people can really learn from each other.”
And of course, like all alumni, Brian is excited to reunite with old Morehead-Cain friends.
“I can’t wait to see some of the faces I haven’t seen in a really long time.”
The prospect of that reunion reminds him of what it really means to be a Morehead-Cain Scholar.
"It’s funny, you come into the Program with these high achievers. You’re all on the front page of the newspaper the day after you win the scholarship . . . you’re playing sports and getting the grades, that kind of thing. But it’s not just about carrying the title of being a Morehead-Cain, which at Carolina might make people look at you a little differently. The label isn’t the thing. It’s the character you use to carry the label.
“We all have our own internal and external measuring sticks. The Foundation is made up of so much diversity of interest and character that we have to recognize that’s what our strength is: the broad range of identities that we have that we bring to the table that creates strength. We can’t all be the best doctors in the world. We all have to be doing different things to make this community effective. I’ve come to grips with the idea that my success as a person and as a scholar is not predicated on what my second-grade teacher told me she thought would be a cool career for me or how much money I thought I should be making by this time.
“To be a good human being, that’s at the core of it.
“And that’s enough."
Brian Strong is Co-Chair for the 2018 and 2021 Alumni Forums.