Thinking Outside the Blog

By: Adam White, @FOSAdam

Anthony Iliakostas, Founder and Host of Law and Batting Order

Anthony Iliakostas, Founder and Host of Law and Batting Order

Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Anthony Iliakostas, Founder and Host of Law and Batting Order, a sports law web show that airs weekly. A journalist at heart, Anthony has combined his love for storytelling and love for law into one of the most unique ways to consume sports law content, a spot that he dreamed about, but never knew it would take him down this road.

“This all started when I was at Fordham. I was a communications major and was really passionate about storytelling. In the journalism world, you can tell a story in so many different ways and as an undergrad that was something that really intrigued me a lot.”

“During my junior year, I worked for a PR firm that specialized in sports PR. That internship laid the groundwork for me to take a role with CBS as an intern for their morning show, The CBS Early Show, which is now CBS This Morning. It was there that I learned a lot of skills about news pitches, what is hard and soft news, what sells in a story and what people want to hear.”

Although Anthony found himself going down a media career path, he had more aspirations, one of those being law school.

“I ended up going to New York Law School all the while keeping the interest in media and communications alive.”

Even though he turned his focus to law school, he found himself interning at another media company, but this time on the legal side of the business.

“I wound up taking an internship with ABC News where I worked on rights and clearances for them. I was the behind the scenes guy working with producers to make sure all of the material for the broadcasts was cleared. I also kept track of any third-party content used across our broadcasts as well. It was an interesting avenue to take because not many people know how important rights and clearances are when, in all actuality, it is one of the most important parts of a broadcast.”

It was this position that would set him up to stay on after he graduated while he was deciding what to do full time after finishing law school.

As if he wasn’t busy already with school and an internship, Anthony found a love and appreciation for sports law while attending New York Law School and knew that if he wanted to find a way into the niche field he had to set himself apart. Enter Law and Batting Order.

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“When I created Law and Batting Order, it all started as a way for me to break into sports law. Since I had no connections in the sports law industry, I knew that I needed to find a way to get my foot in the door.”

“I attended a symposium that had a sports law panel and all of the panelists agreed that for someone in my position and others like me, to build a brand in a niche industry like sports law, we had to make our brands and ourselves unique in some way.”

For Anthony, building his brand would come in a way he knew best, leveraging his journalism background.  

“I took that to heart because I knew with my communications background, I could take that idea and run with it.”

“That night after the symposium, I went home and did research. I found that there were tons of sports law blogs out there. I realized I couldn’t go the traditional blogging way due to the extensive numbers of ones already out there and the audiences they had built up.”

Even though he had the background and skills to compete in the crowded blogosphere, Anthony knew that to be unique he needed to be different and fresh and that is when he turned his attention to video.

“It was 2011, and, at that time, there were no sports law video blogs and YouTube stars were just beginning to pop up and become more of a norm across that platform. I took this information and armed with a Kodak camera, a tripod and an iPad, I created a make shift teleprompter. I mounted my iPad on my tripod and put my Kodak camera on there and decided to film myself talking about sports law.”

Over 100 episodes and thousands of views later, that leap of faith has turned into a weekly program covering some of the industry’s most pressing issues while featuring guests from across the industry and providing Anthony with once and a lifetime experiences.

“After I attended that symposium and got Law and Batting Order up and running in the latter part of 2011, I networked with fellow peers and shared it with my classmates and got great feedback right away.”

“It has been a very steady growth and I am thankful for that. My very first interview was with ESPN Investigative Reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada and that was eight episodes in. The fact that I was able to get an ESPN reporter was miraculous and the fact that I was able to get the one that broke the entire BALCO scandal was even more incredible. After that interview, people started taking my blog and myself more seriously as a professional.”

Over four years removed from the first episode, Anthony saw his hard work and sacrifices rewarded in the form of a media pass for the NHL Draft.

“I was able to attend the NHL Draft this past summer and, for me, that was one of the most rewarding moments of Law and Batting Order. Not only was I at a major sporting event, but I had a media pass for the first time in my career.”

Although Law and Batting Order has helped Anthony establish a brand, it hasn’t come without long nights and continued sacrifice.

“I am still working hard to build my brand. Nothing in life has been served to me on a silver platter and no one has ever coddled me. I have had to work very hard and very diligently to be in the professional position that I am in today and I am very happy that I made those massive sacrifices along the way.”

“Every episode I do is written, filmed, edited and marketed by me. It is a tiring process, but the benefits have paid off beyond the time and energy expended.”

It is this hard work that makes Anthony believe that Law and Batting Order has staying power.

“I think given what I have done as I enter into my fifth year of Law and Batting Order that my brand of journalism can be successful and that it can be a great resource for those who follow along.”

Upon graduation from NYLS and while continuing to focus on growing Law and Batting Order, Anthony would take his next professional step in the form of a position with Corbis Entertainment, a position that would lead him to becoming one of the people behind Albert Einstein’s extensive social footprint and one that perfectly melds Anthony’s interests with his schooling background.

“I work the rights and representation group for Corbis Entertainment and our group represents multiple talents from Albert Einstein to Steve McQueen and Muhammad Ali.”

“I appreciate that job so much because it ties in perfectly with my intellectual property education and, although this is a different aspect of intellectual property law, it is one that I find very interesting.”

“The bulk of my work comes from publicity rights, which means I am tasked with making sure that advertisers and licensees are using the image and likeness of the people we represent in a positive manner and way.”

Even though it is a day job, it isn’t your 9-5 job and one that Anthony finds himself still wondering if it isn’t a dream.

“It is very rewarding work and I almost pinch myself everyday as I realize that I am one of the few that get to spread the word about Einstein and his legacy.”

This rewarding work has translated to success not only with growing Einstein’s brand, but also with helping strengthen his social acumen when it comes to Law and Batting Order.

“On social media, we manage the official Einstein Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine accounts. Our primary goal through those channels is to promote the person that Einstein was and his legacy with a focus on engaging millennials.” 

“I am grateful for the opportunity because I have learned so much especially on the social and marketing side that I have been able to carry that over to Law and Batting Order.”

While trying to balance a busy schedule of work, Anthony continues to keep his finger on the pulse of the sports law world and is intrigued by the numerous high profile headlines in the recent months and the continued development of the policies to counteract these.

“For me, the one I am following the most is the situations of domestic violence. I hate to say it, but you would think that we would have learned our lessons about how to handle these things, yet domestic violence and sexual assault continue to be very rampant in sports.”

“The main stories I am keeping an eye on outside of that one is the way MLB is going to handle their recent domestic violence cases with the now suspended Aroldis Chapman and the Jose Reyes case as well. The Chapman case sets precedence as it is a case of first impression and what that does, is it makes everyone pay attention to the Jose Reyes case. That case will definitively set the standard for how domestic violence punishments will go down in MLB because Reyes is the first player after the new policy was enacted to be punished criminally, he plead not guilty and was placed on administrative leave.”

“I am really interested in seeing how leagues continue to implement, refine and better their domestic violence policies, because, in my opinion, that is one of the biggest areas that needs to be addressed across all of the professional sports.”

None of this success would have been possible without Anthony shying away from the crowd, building a unique brand and not conforming to the norm, something that he preaches still to this day.

“I would definitely say build your brand by being unique and creative. There is nothing better than to stand out from the crowd.”

“It is not about following society’s norms; it is about following your norm. You are your own X factor.”    

He is a firm believer in that no one is done growing and that through positive criticism and continued perseverance we will continue to become the best people possible.

“When you receive positive criticisms from others, you are going to realize that because of those criticisms, you are going to be the best that you can be and someone that you never thought you could be.”

“We are all works in progress and we have to always be open to learning and open to critiques.”

With a strong brand behind him, a relentless work ethic and unbarring enthusiasm there is no limit to where his journey will take him, a journey in which the whole sports law industry should be watching.

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