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Talking Sports Business with Tina Cervasio

One of the more prolific faces in sports broadcasting in recent years in and around the New York area is Tina Cervasio. A New Jersey native, Tina joined MSG Networks in 2008. She is the courtside and feature reporter for MSG’s New York Knicks game telecasts, pre-game and postgame shows, plus original Knicks programming, while also holding the role as pre-game and halftime host, sideline and postgame reporter for New York Red Bulls game telecasts on MSG and MSG+.

In addition to her work with MSG, Cervasio can be seen handling reporting and anchor duties on FOX 5 New York’s “Good Day New York” and “Sports Extra” and as a co-host on 98.7 FM ESPN Radio New York. She has also covered a number of games as a national sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT, the NFL on FOX, NBA TV, and as a regular contributor on NBC Sports Network.

She is a four-time New York Emmy Award-winner as part of MSG’s New York Knicks broadcast team. In 2009, 2013 and 2014 Cervasio was nominated for her individual work as a Sports Reporter in her roles with the Knicks and Red Bulls.

Before her time with MSG, the University of Maryland graduate was the Field Reporter for the Boston Red Sox on the New England Sports Network (NESN) where she reported live from the field in-game and for both the pre-game and postgame shows from 2006 to 2008. While at NESN, Cervasio garnered multiple Emmy nominations for her individual work and received a personalized 2007 World Series ring.

We caught up with Tina recently to talk sports broadcasting, soccer and The Knicks.

What is the best part of your job today?
The best part about my job is that you never know what you’ll witness. From Carmelo Anthony’s 62-point game in 2014, to a Thierry Henry hat-trick his final year with the Red Bulls before retirement. I know each day I go to work I could be witnessing sports history. Then, it’s my responsibility to be the first person to interview that athlete and bring the emotion, experience, drama of victory or defeat into the homes of fans through that player’s answers.

You grew up around a big Italian family in New Jersey. How did that help you get involved in sports and then broadcasting?
It’s all their fault! Ha, ha. My dad was a great high school athlete who went on to play college football at Cornell. Our family outings were essentially centered around sports. From my uncle playing football at the University of Delaware when I was a toddler, to all my mother’s cousins coaching high school and college football, basketball, softball…my other uncle coaching football, wrestling and crew and finally, my Godfather coaching high school football games every Friday night… as a family, on the weekends. Before I was the athlete participating in sports or dance competitions, we were attending our family’s games.  It’s wasn’t about the Giants or Yankees in our home, it was about Uncle Alan, cousin Mark, cousin Carl, Uncle John’s teams…from those formative years, all I ever wanted to do was be around, play or watch sports. Then, “at a family outing” at the Rose Bowl in 1986, I was just 11 years old, and I was really absorbing the atmosphere and the fanfare around me. My father turned to me during the game and said, “As you start to think about what you want to be when you grow up and what you need to study, you should think about sports. Find something you love to do and find someone to pay you for it.” Not an original bit of advice, but my father knew it was very specific to me and what I found a passion for…watching sports.  Now I get paid to do it.

You are also doing a good amount of studio work at Fox Five in New York these days. What do you enjoy more, working live events or being in the studio?
It’s like asking someone, “Who’s your favorite child?” They are such different assignments that call for such different skills I can’t really pick. One thing I like better about being in the studio is the lighting!!! You are in one position for three minutes straight and they set the lighting to really flatter you. In an arena, the hard stadium lights are beaming down on top of my head and sometimes I look like a zombie! But I love the live events because you are right there on the event level witnessing all the action. What is your favorite venue to watch a game in?

You are a New York City Marathon veteran as well. What was the training for the race like and would you do it again?
I would definitely do it again. But I did just turn down this year … and it is because of the training.  It’s an intense, five-month commitment of running, physical therapy, cross training, one day of sprinting and each week you basically commit one full day to the long run of 18-24 miles. It takes your whole day because of the length of the run, stretching and proper recovery time. But when race day comes and the gun goes off and you’re running across the Verrazano Bridge, the only thing in life that is better is when you cross that finish line in Central Park. Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

For young people looking to break into the media business, what’s the best advice you can give them?
There are so many different ways to break into sports media now, I don’t even know of all of them!!!  But the key is getting a good, old fashioned internship. Meet people, keep in contact with them and begin that networking process because you never know who will lead you there. Ask questions. Show people your work to get it critiqued. Practice asking good questions if you want to be a reporter. Remember in the end, especially on television, you want to be interesting and hold the viewer’s attention, so work on telling good stories with the factual information you have collected through your reporting. It’s just like the athletes you cover – you have to get your reps. Find ways to get those opportunities. It never hurts to ask!

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