Military Personnel Get Production Experience During NBA Finals

The NBA is giving U.S. military veterans and reservists an opportunity to gain real-world sports-production experience during the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City and Miami. Ten candidates are working as utilities on the broadcasts.

“This is a good idea for everyone in the industry to do, as SVG and its members continue to develop an interface with the U.S. Army,” says Mike Rokosa, VP of operations and engineering, NBA.

Five utilities have been hired in each city as part of the SVG “Veterans in Production” VIP program.

Earlier this year, Rokosa contacted Erin Thede, director for the Employer Partnership Office, Office of the Chief Army Reserve, and, along with SVG Executive Director Marty Porter, arranged for Thede to attend the NAB show in April. While there, Thede gave a presentation during the SVG Annual NAB Truck Breakfast and also met with a wide variety of manufacturers, remote service providers, and network executives.

Candidates with a military background are ideal for a role in sports production and operations, Thede notes.

“Out of 10 young Americans who apply to come into the Armed Forces, only three of them are actually accepted, because the standards are strict,” she explains. “We do screening up front; we do drug testing; we check for physical fitness; we check for legal issues, moral issues in their background to ensure that the population that we have is appropriate for the job we want them to do.”

The process of finding military personnel was very easy, Rokosa says. Thede provided a spreadsheet with the names and addresses of qualified candidates in the Oklahoma City and Miami markets.

“They don’t have any real TV experience, but they are great workers, willing to learn, and they respond to every request,” says Rokosa. “And the rest of the crews are embracing it.”

The goal is to give military personnel exposure to the industry and a chance to ask questions, learn, and see if a career in sports production is something they may want to pursue.

“Plus, they now can go to a network or production company and show that they have worked on an NBA Finals,” adds Rokosa.

The efforts this week are only the beginning of a larger program being developed between SVG and the branches of the U.S. military. The goal is to develop a Website that can be used by both production professionals and military personnel to connect and find opportunities to come together. And the potential connections can extend beyond the production and operations areas.

“We also have public-affairs military occupational specialties that align with what the broadcasters [are looking for],” adds Thede. “And the exposure enhances their military background and what they bring to the table [for other jobs].”

To learn how your company can begin to benefit from hiring military personnel, please contact Erin Thede at or 703-806-7462.

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