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Andrew Barge: Reflection on History Major

Posted by on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 in Student Reflections.

Andrew Barge ’09

I’ve always loved sports.

At Twitter, I manage product and revenue partnerships with sports leagues, networks, teams, and athletes. Day-to-day responsibilities range from consumer product launches that impact tens of millions of sports fans, to negotiating streaming media rights, to “Wait, who got hacked?!” For five years’ prior, I worked in the marketing group at ESPN, driving consumption for priorities like mobile apps, Monday Night Football, and the 30 for 30 documentary series.

Colleagues always seem surprised to hear my college major: English & history. No marketing classes, even though my first break into the sports industry came as a marketer. No computer science credits, even though I work alongside engineers and product managers every day. No sports management or business classes, even though my job requires…managing a sports business.

While my path may not seem linear, I never felt a lack of foundation. I don’t ever remember “pivoting.” Professional interests–marketing, media distribution, social technology–presented unique challenges, but I always felt prepared at the onset.

This confidence was built in history class, the place that fully validated my love for sports.

History at Vandy turned my favorite athletes into cultural barometers. In Professor Schwartz’s HIST 295 class, my thesis examined Muhammad Ali as a social martyr. Professor Smith’s HIST 200 workshop required students to disprove mainstream historical perspective, and I spent thirty pages analyzing Jesse Owens and the American media during the Berlin Games. I discovered the academic dimension of sports and learned priceless lessons along the way.

As a history student, you’re reading hundreds of pages every week and then challenging the person who literally wrote the book. You’re managing thesis deadlines months in advance with few checkpoints along the way. You’re thinking critically, articulating your position, and empathizing with those who may see it the other way.

You’re embracing the subjective. You’re being an adult.

History class sticks with you, no matter how far you travel from Professor Bess’s classroom (and his epic Knut Haukelid lecture), or the professional path you take. Take it from me, a Vandy history major who works in sports.

Even better, talk to my younger brother: a Vandy history major who’s Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at Rush Medical Center and soon-to-be gastroenterologist. He’s smarter than me, anyway.