“I think that it was very important to me to see, like, how I could stretch my dynamic and test myself in a way that will benefit me in the professional world,” said junior communication studies major Ajay Patel (he/him).
The theme of Patel’s semester has definitely been exploring new parts of the sports media industry. As he is nearing completion of Klein College of Media and Communication’s sports media certificate, many of his experiences come from outside the traditional classroom.
In the spring of 2022, Patel approached TUTV – Temple University Television General Manager and Associate Professor of Practice Paul Gluck (he/him) with an idea to make a film about former Temple University football player Todd Bowles.
“As always in my interactions with Ajay, he was clear, he was focused, he had an idea and he could articulate what he wanted to do with that idea,” Gluck said.
Bowles was named the head coach of the National Football League’s (NFL) Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March of 2022. Patel, alongside his coproducer senior Jake Jesberger, wanted to tell the story of Bowles’s journey from Temple football player to NFL head coach. Notably, they wanted to focus on his time coaching at several HBCUs and how Bowles is only the third Black head coach out of the 32 current NFL head coaches.
“I found his view of the Todd Bowles story fascinating, and it was a story that we believe needed to be told,” Gluck said.
Patel spent the summer contacting key people in Bowles’ career, from former teammates of his such as Paul Palmer to news reporters like Kevin O’Donnell, who has covered every Buccaneers head coach in history.
Though the process of reaching out for interviews wasn’t always easy and Patel often got shot down, he and Jesberger didn’t get discouraged. They continued talking to anyone they could while contacting former teams Bowles played and coached for to get game footage, and even traveling to his hometown to shoot some of their own footage.
Despite being declined for interviews and enduring the tedious task of properly crediting footage, Gluck noted that Patel always had a good attitude and never lost sight of his goals. Watching him work has been a pleasure, Gluck said.
While he was working on the film, Patel was completing an internship at PHL17 and continuing to expand his network in the sports media field. This included following up with people he had met in the spring, including Manager of Ticket Services at Citizen’s Bank Park Ryan Simon (he/him).
Simon and Patel met at #CollegeSeries, a series of networking events sponsored by Temple at Citizen’s Bank Park, home to the Phillies, when the latter was covering a session for Temple Update on TUTV. Patel took that time to meet other professionals in the field and emailed Simon after the event to stay in touch.
In the middle of July 2022, Simon reached out to Patel with an offer to be a ticket services intern at the park. As Patel finished up his last week with PHL17 in August, he started at Citizens Bank the same week.
“I want to learn a better idea of sports business, sports hospitality and sports management; and this internship has done all of that,” Patel said. Even if he doesn’t want to be in ticket services forever, he was still thrilled to be getting the experience.
As a ticket service intern, Patel did everything from answering phone calls to checking in on media to helping ballpark operations. He worked both on and off game days and during and after the Phillies’ season ended.
“He’s very charismatic,” Simon said of Patel. “He’s a very hard-working guy.”
Simon noted that Patel made an excellent first impression, and that even before Simon offered him the internship, he knew that Patel was going to seek out as many experiences in the field as possible. He likes that part of his job is giving young professionals like Patel such experiences.
Patel and Jesberger’s film, "Tampa Todd", aired for the first time on Inside the Nest on OwlSports Update on November 29, 2022 and is set to air on TUTV several more times. In the same week, Patel finished up his internship with the Phillies and is planning on taking a break from internships.
In the meantime, Patel is working on launching a new club, Unity Against Sexual Assault, at Temple. He can also be found anchoring for OwlSports Update and hosting Temple Talks Philly on Temple’s radio station, WHIP, and Tug of War on TUTV.