Day 11: Rolling with the Punches

Kevin Paul 2015

“You can’t have it all.”

This was a sobering answer to an admittedly optimistic question. Tammy Ross, VP of HBO Sports, spoke to the MSBA Class of 2015 on Wednesday and provided a ton of wisdom, such as the quotation above

“Sports is a constantly evolving field…and only those who can change with the times are truly equipped to succeed”

Tammy is, in all ways, an HBO lifer. She came on board as a lawyer in 1991 and never looked back. One thing that separated her from a lot of other attorneys was her approach to, well, everything. A lot of people in her field sought out problems, while she attempted to find solutions. She explained to us how this was a winning strategy in all arenas of life, not just the law. After eight years as a lawyer, Tammy Ross became the Vice President of HBO Sports in 1999 and has been holding down the position ever since.

When asked about the biggest difference between her first day at HBO in 1991 and today, Tammy mentioned the fulfillment of being constantly challenged. Sports is a constantly evolving field – a torn ACL here, a terminated contract there – and only those who can change with the times are truly equipped to succeed. I found it particularly interesting when Tammy said that everything has surprised her for so long, that nothing surprises her anymore.

After all the stories and wisdom imparted by our speaker, I decided to take advantage of the question and answer session. Referencing an interview she participated in a few years ago, I asked how she had it all, between family and career. And that’s when she told us:

“You can’t have it all.”

She went on to state how balancing all elements of life is especially important in a sports career, and how being “present” for her daughter was more important than being physically “there,”. She further explained how it’s impossible to have enough time to commit to all the important things, and everything in-between. But when I saw the smile on her face when talking about her job, and when I saw the smile get even wider when she mentioned her family, it all made sense. It was obvious; Tammy did have it all. And it was clear that any of us could have it all as well.