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Volume 21 No. 47
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My first job in sports: Mike Boykin

Mike Boykin was a student at Ohio University’s sports management program when he landed his first job in sports as an intern at Philadelphia’s Spectrum. The nine months he spent booking events for the venue changed his career path. He gave up his dream of becoming athletic director at the University of South Carolina and pursued a career in pro sports, working at venues and promoting events before ultimately landing at GMR Marketing.

At a party for Spectrum employees in summer 1981: Boykin (left) with Tim Murphy, now a regional vice president with Global Spectrum.

WELCOME TO PHILLY: They provided an apartment in Buttonwood Square. My brother helped me drive from South Carolina to Philadelphia. I got there and asked for the key. The man sent me upstairs and I opened the door to the apartment and there was all this stuff spread out on the bed and coffee table: jackets, hoodies, T-shirts, sweatshirts. It was gear from the Sixers, Flyers, Phillies and the Spectrum. It looked like someone had been to the merchandise store and loaded up. I opened the refrigerator and it was completely stocked: beer, wine, cheese. I was blown away. I went downstairs and told them that they sent me to the wrong apartment. They said, “Oh, no. It’s yours.” … all I could think was, “Boy, I hope I don’t disappoint them.” They had made me feel so welcome and important that I didn’t want to let them down.

BIG DECISIONS: The Spectrum was hosting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship March 30, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan was shot. I was there and Wayne Duke [chairman of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Committee], Dave Cawood [NCAA executive], Dave Gavitt [Big East commissioner] were all in the room. They were trying to figure out all the scenarios. “If he’s in a coma,” they said, “we can’t play this day. If he dies, we can’t play this day.” My eyes were like beach balls. I’m in this room, they’re talking about this incredibly important and interesting thing and talking about the potential of having to cancel the game [between North Carolina and Indiana] and have dual national champions. It was very fluid and a very tense moment … but I was impressed by how these leaders maintained their poise and discussed all their options and all the ramifications. They had an eye on what was best for the country and also the teams and fans.

SAY IT AGAIN: Everyone liked to hear me speak. We had offices at the Spectrum and Market Street. The ladies would ask me to come over and pronounce certain words like bicycle. Basically, it was any word with the letter “I.” Anything Southerners had a way of saying. They would cackle, and I got paranoid.

MAKE THEM LAUGH: There was a guy named Peter Gladstone. He was the vice president of marketing. He would let me come in the office, give me a legal sheet of paper to take notes and write questions and then say, “Watch this.” He would call someone about a business deal, and he would use humor to disarm people. He was hilarious. It was almost like he was a standup comedian over million-dollar deals. That’s where I learned how to use humor.

BACK TO SCHOOL: I got a job offer at the end of the nine-month internship, but I turned it down so I could go back to school and get my degree from Ohio University. I didn’t want to do it at the time, but my dad encouraged me to finish. I went from going 90 miles an hour every day to 30 miles an hour. I am glad I did it, though. I met a second class of people. When I went back, [former U.S. men’s national team soccer coach] Bob Bradley was my roommate. Those types of relationships are important in life.