Tracy Ham: From the Field to the Tech Side of Sports
At Georgia Southern University, Tracy Ham was an All-America quarterback who led the Eagles to two Division I-AA national championships. The only player in college history to run for 3,000 yards and pass for 5,000 in a career, Ham has many titles to his name, although his most recent — sports venue account manager for Sony — was not one he expected to earn after memorable careers in the NCAA and Canadian Football League. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame who has made a name for himself on the technology side of sports, Ham sat down with SVG to discuss his transition from the chalkboard to the board room, and what he learned along the way.
What did you do after your playing career was over?
As you leave football, you try to look for the right fit to fill the void of sports. I worked in various capacities. I did a little bit of coaching, and, while I was coaching, I met this group from a company called L3, which had digital-video coaching solutions. XOS eventually bought that company, and, when I left coaching, I started working with XOS as an account manager for the Southeast.
A few years later, Sony started a sports team. It’s been almost four years now they’ve had a sports team that calls directly on accounts and builds relationships. As everybody started making the transition from SD to HD, it was a perfect window to get into the sports side of Sony. Obviously, Sony is one of the top electronic companies in the business, so to be associated with them has been a great fit for me.
What did you learn during your playing career that you could take to your work at Sony?
When you’re in the game, you study it in various formats. Obviously, when I was playing, we were using very antiquated solutions. When I got into the digital side of it and started understanding the movement of content and the different ways of moving it around, I became very interested. Now, to be able to provide a solution within the sports arena has been very satisfying. Plus, I’m still around sports, so that has worked out well.
What’s the best part of your job?
One of the things I really enjoy in the transition from football to business is the team I work with. I work on the sports team with Chris Sullivan, Tom DeTulleo, Mason Hollis, and Tony Gaston, and it’s really a great team. The guys work together really well. It’s been great building a solution with a group of guys from the ground up. It’s been very interesting and very rewarding.
It’s been a treat for me to work with Sony in all the arenas that we’re in — both professional and college. Being around sports and sports people has been a great opportunity.
Is there any advice you would give to athletes nearing the end of their athletic careers?
I think the biggest thing about working in sports is building relationships. If you build good relationships as you come to the end of your playing career, you can get a jump-start on figuring out what you want to do afterwards.
The biggest thing I can say to current or past athletes is to build relationships with people in the different areas that you come into contact with. As an athlete, you meet so many different types of people in different livelihoods and different arenas. Try to find what interests you and build relationships within that interest.
If you could go back and do it all again, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I wish I had gone into the broadcast industry coming through school. Then, from the start, I would have understood the language and the whole makeup of the group that I’m working with. I have to say, the broadcast industry has really been great. You have people who have done this for 15 or 20 years, and then you have a guy like me come in who has not been in the business as long, but everybody’s been great to work with. People don’t just tell me how long they’ve been in the business, but they really work with me to help me understand their situation.