Beyond the traditional walls of the classroom, some of the best lessons learned come from our interactions with individuals within our communities. When it comes to changing the conversation and breaking free from the labels and stereotypes placed upon the black community, there are men of excellence such as Jeff Scott, Director of Community Relations at the Brooklyn Nets, leading by example.
Scott, while promoting community development and establishing positive relationships with schools, community leaders, nonprofits, and corporate partners for the Brooklyn Nets, is empowering the next generation to break the stereotypical cycle. “I want our youth to believe they can be more than just a rapper or athlete. By having a limitless mentality and witnessing first-hand the millions of BE Modern Men within our communities, collectively “We” will break free from the conventionality placed upon us,” says Scott.
“My consistency in everything that I do has always allowed me to see a challenge or task through to the very end. Additionally, I try to only surround myself with supportive individuals who share a common approach and successful/optimistic outlook on life.”
“I allow my actions and image to do the majority of the talking. As often as I can, I engage in opportunities that allow me to expose individuals to my career and life. I participate in many school career fairs, community symposiums as well as welcome internships and job shadow opportunities to educate our youth on the many opportunities they can consider for a successful future in the sports business. These lasting experiences are sure to make an impact.”
Combining his passion for athletics and commitment to community, Scott looked past the typical set of career options advertised for black men who love sports. “I have always been inspired by the power of sports. Athletes on all levels and throughout all sports are driven by fans of all ages. Traditionally, fans tend to admire, emulate, and look up to athletes while placing them on a higher pedestal than the average individual. Knowing that athletes can be a major catalyst to promote positivity and well-being, I immediately realized that through sports and athlete representation I could positively impact the communities we serve.”
When asked why we are not celebrated more positively in popular culture outside of the typical rapper/athlete/entertainer model, Scott responded, “We are not championed more because corporations are not able to generate revenue from our names or likenesses. For example, Nike is fueled to celebrate LeBron James due to the merchandise sales he is able to generate for the company. Universal Music Group is fueled to celebrate Jay Z for the number of records he is able to sell. However, celebrating everyday leaders, although impactful in their own right aren’t impacting our financial scope.”
As a man with strong character, Scott sees his impact within the African American community through his work with interns. “Every quarter a new group of interns begin working for our organization. Each semester we see more and more young men and women of color with a sports management focus. Our youth are now realizing that a dream of being a professional athlete isn’t their only opportunity for a successful future. They can now see that having a career on the business side of professional sports can be just as rewarding if not more. My goal is to expose more youth on the career opportunities within the sports world. Instead of having visions of being a player on the court or field I want them to have visions and aspirations of being a leader in the boardroom.”
But as with any job, it’s not without its challenges. “The most challenging moment happened when our organization officially relocated from East Rutherford, New Jersey, to Brooklyn, New York. Having to personally established relationships within the New Jersey communities for over six years I essentially had to turn my back and refocus our efforts to other deserving communities throughout Brooklyn. As an individual who leads with my heart I was saddened to discontinue those efforts in New Jersey but was excited to have the challenge and opportunity to impact the 3 million residents who make up Brooklyn.”
On the next page, read about some of Jeff’s obstacles in his path to success and his rules of engagement…