The Mentorship Spot
Sport Media at Ryerson University
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
My name is Aiden Silliphant, I’m a student at Ryerson University, and I’m going into third year Sport Media. Ever since I was young I had a strong passion for sports, and loved entertaining an audience. When I heard about a sport media program, truly one of a kind, it was a no brainer for me.
Why did you choose Ryerson Sport Media?
The reason I chose Sport Media was that, throughout my childhood, I always wanted to be in front of an audience in some way and was also always a big sports fan. Obviously, every sports fan’s dream would be to play in a professional sports league but once I realized that dream was probably out of reach, I decided to look at other options and realized that I still wanted to work in sports in some way. I heard about this amazing program at Ryerson, which kind of combined both aspects of what I wanted to do and enjoyed doing. The fact that the program incorporates video editing and on-air presentation, but through a sports lens, really caught my attention. I remember going for a tour of the campus and walking through the Mattamy Athletic Centre, where most of our courses are held, and it was mind blowing. The facilities are unbelievable, we have a studio right above the old Maple Leaf Gardens where we have classes and it's really an unbelievable experience.
What have your first two years in Sport Media been like?
At Ryerson, they give you a wide variety of courses to choose from in Sport Media, including radio, television, video editing, graphic design, on-air production, live broadcasts, directing and producing. During your first year, everything is at your disposal and you can explore a few different areas. One of the areas that interested me right off the bat was radio. One of the things that is stressed during the first year is making sure that you are comfortable talking in front of an audience. They make sure that you know how to use microphones and that you know about audio, which is something that people might not have a lot of knowledge about coming into the program. One thing that I enjoyed the most was the on-air courses. At the Mattamy Athletic Center we have a studio, where we would put on live broadcasts. In second year, we had to create a gameshow, which we fully produced and recorded. We had the freedom to be as creative as we wanted and the studio is fully furnished with everything you would need for a show, similar to something a channel like TSN would have.
What are the best skills that you have developed so far?
So far, I think that the skills that I’ve developed the most have been radio based. At Ryerson, we have a radio network called Spirit Live, which allows Ryerson students in media programs to broadcast live radio shows. Through this, I’ve been able to have my own radio show where I talk about sports with one of my fellow classmates since my first year. Now that we’re in quarantine, I’ve been able to use these skills to record and host two separate podcasts. One skill I hope to further develop in the future would be producing. One of the largest roles in sport media is being a producer. You’re in charge of everything and you’re the one making the show and telling everyone what to do. Heading into my third and fourth year, I want to learn more about how to create original shows and guide people effectively. So far, I’ve had some glimpses of that work as a director, but I’ve never been a producer.
Aside from your radio show and podcast, what other extracurriculars have you been involved in?
Being at Ryerson, we have some really good sports teams, most notably our men and women’s hockey teams. We have this program called Rams Live, where we are able to broadcast our sports games to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) website. We put on a full production, including play-by-play, colour commentary and graphics. Although I haven’t done play-by-play, I have been able to do camera work and graphics inside the control room for these broadcasts. Being part of that environment is a really unique experience because it is live TV. Every broadcast is a high-pressure situation but it’s an amazing feeling and working together with your team is what makes it a lot of fun. I would highly recommend it to anyone who gets into the program.
What is the campus atmosphere like at Ryerson?
Given that the campus is right in the heart of downtown Toronto, it’s a really busy atmosphere. It’s not just people from your school you see walking around, but a lot of professionals too. One standout would be the homecoming mens hockey game and the amount of support that our men’s team got was really nice to see. I think that one thing that connects everyone at Ryerson is the sports teams because we know that they’re really good and we have phenomenal facilities where people want to go and support them.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into this program?
My experience getting into the program was kind of a long process. I first learned about this program in my first year of high school and it was always in the back of my mind and throughout high school I was aiming to get into this program. In my Grade 10 year, I took a computer tech course that allowed me to develop skills with photoshop without it being sports related, even though I knew that I ultimately wanted to work in sports. While researching the program, I heard that it was really difficult to get into, with one of the lowest acceptance rates of any program in Canada. There are 70 people accepted in each year and having just completed 2nd year, I believe we are down to about 64. I knew that I really had to stand out in order to get in. In order to stand out, I actually switched high schools, transferring to one that allowed me to get a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) credit in communication and technology, which shows up as a red seal on your high school diploma. In addition to this, I volunteered at what was formerly known as Cogeco TV,a local broadcast network, for over 2 years, where I got to do a lot of graphic design and live production, which gave me a great deal of experience to put on my resume for application. For anyone trying to get in, I recommend that you try and make yourself stand out as much as possible, whether that's taking extra courses in high school or taking more extracurriculars and volunteering for media or television networks. One thing that I didn’t do that would have been beneficial was start a podcast or youtube channel of my own. Luckily, I was still able to get in but if you have a podcast or youtube channel dedicated to sports, I think it would greatly increase your chances of being accepted.
What is something you wished you knew before entering Sport Media?
Coming into the program, I thought that most of the content was going to be production-based, hands-on work. But we actually take a lot of theory and learn about sport media in society. We’ve learned a lot about the impact of racism and gender in sports, along with history and how current sports networks and popular shows like Hockey Night in Canada got started. We also have to take business courses in our 1st and 3rd year. One of the biggest points that we’ve discussed in all of our classes is how the sport media industry is changing every day. The best advice I could give someone is that the industry is not going to be the same when we graduate. It’s going to be completely different because television is dying and online streaming services have begun to take over. Getting a job in television might become much more difficult, which is why I’ve decided to focus more on podcasting, which is relatively new. Another thing would be to keep an open mind. I came into the program wanting to be on air, which is very difficult to do. If you keep an open mind, you might find something else that you would enjoy just as much. You should also make a lot of friends and connections. The people in your class one year might end up being your coworkers or bosses in the future. Finally, have fun with it! It’s a stressful program and a stressful industry but try and have as much fun as you can!
Check out Aiden’s podcasts here:
THE BIG LEAGUE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZbFwbfcZwFIomupYikx_vQ
Interviewed and Transcribed by Farzan Dubash
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