Penn Wood athletic director Rap Curry, already intimately familiar with the subject, had already talked to school officials for some time about what he calls “post-athletic career purpose” when Ari Bluestein, owner of the Sports Fan Base Network, called in March looking to broadcast Penn Wood athletic events.
SFBN, an online sports network that has streamed high school sports in the Philadelphia area since 2012, is sponsored by the Pennsylvania National Guard and wanted to expand its coverage into Delaware County.
Months later, students at Penn Wood, Curry’s alma mater, have helped SFBN broadcast football games, including last week’s game when undefeated Northeast High dropped visiting Penn Wood’s record to 2-1.
The Penn Wood-SFBN partnership is expected to last into the spring seasons.
The ultimate goal in the next few years, Curry said, is for students to run the entire production.
“The goal is to get the kids to see the different jobs that are in athletics,” Curry said, “because most kids are saying, ‘I want to play in the NFL,’ or their backup plan is ‘I want to coach.’ It’s as if they don’t see any other jobs.”
Later, he added: “A lot of times we’re so focused on trying to be the best athlete, we’re not paying attention to what’s going on around us. And what’s around us is a business.”
Curry, 47, was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame for his basketball career at St. Joseph’s University (1990-94), which included scoring 1,372 points and finishing as the school’s all-time leader with 580 assists before he was passed by Jameer Nelson’s 713.
When the 6-foot-3 point guard graduated with a degree in business, however, Curry was unsure of his path forward. A knee injury might have hindered his pro chances.
Teaching and coaching, however, eventually provided purpose.
Curry coached boys’ basketball at Penn Wood for three years before stepping down to become the school’s athletic director, a role he’s held for 14 years.
As a senior at Penn Wood, Curry was named the Associated Press state player of the year. Now, he hopes to show student-athletes that they could someday have a career in sports beyond their playing days like he has.
“In reality, there are all these different ways that people have jobs to be around sports,” Curry said. “We’re not all built to be in a cubicle. So the goal is to find your passion and find something around your passion that you can do for the rest of your life, because [playing] sports obviously doesn’t last for your whole life.”
Seniors Jimmy Sek, who participates in track and band, and Chris Jones (soccer and band) joined the production crew in August and received training from SFBN staff.
Though both are athletes, Curry said the program is looking for any Penn Wood students who are willing to learn.
Grant money from the Pennsylvania government, Curry said, has purchased equipment. SFBN staff and Penn Wood teachers assist students in the broadcast production.
SFBN, which also broadcasts college games at Drexel, West Chester, and Rider, supplies a play-by-play announcer for the Penn Wood broadcasts.
For now, games can be seen live on www.SFBN.LIVE. The broadcasts also appear on Curry’s Facebook page. Penn Wood athletics, he said, is also working on a YouTube channel that would carry the broadcast.
“I think when we first started, we didn’t see this happening,” said Bluestein, whose staff includes full-time employees and college interns.