Berman ’77 reminisces about path to ESPN

Sports Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brunonians are not known for being passionate sports fans – but do not tell that to Chris “Boomer” Berman ’77 P’08 P’09. The former history concentrator, a long-standing anchor for ESPN and one of  the most well-known personalities in contemporary sports media, returned to College Hill Wednesday night to share stories of his Brown experience in front of an intimate crowd in MacMillan 117.

“I travel the United States all the time, so it’s nice to have a home game,” Berman said. “Tuition’s gone up since I was here in 1977, but the food is the same in the Ratty.”

After cracking a few opening jokes, Berman chronicled his start in sports media as an announcer for WBRU. Of the many games he covered, Berman recalls Bruno’s run to its first-ever Ivy League football championship in 1976 as some of the most exciting.

“I remember the plays like they were last week,” Berman said. “These are some of the best memories I have.”

Berman also described his early days out of college, including his less glamorous beginning years at ESPN in 1979. At the time, ESPN only had about 80 employees and was focused on broadcasting University of Connecticut sports. Berman has been part of the media company’s meteoric rise – 8,000 people now work for ESPN, and its channels are broadcast worldwide.

“The first game we broadcasted was men’s professional slow-pitch softball … brought to you by Budweiser,” Berman said. “We did the wrap-up show, and I had hair then. I looked like Ron Burgundy.”

For those in the audience, Berman’s perspective on life after college was refreshing.

“I thought it was really cool to hear the history of Brown through his experiences,” said Matt Barnes ’13. “He’s got all of these cool stories, and it’s interesting to hear his take on Brown’s athletic history.”

“It was a great opportunity to see a Brown alumni who didn’t necessarily follow my path as a student-athlete but who was still very involved with athletics,” said Eric Robertson ’13, who will be co-captain of the men’s soccer team next year. “It was great to learn about his journey after Brown.”

Putting his jokes aside later in the talk, Berman gushed about his passionate relationship with sports.

“You can be old or young, male or female, rich or poor – it really doesn’t matter,” Berman said. “You can have the same conversation about the (Boston) Red Sox, whether a guy is shining your shoes or whether he’s a millionaire. … That’s what I have found to never change in my 30 years.”

At the end of the talk, Berman channeled his alter ego “The Swami,” who normally predicts football scores every weekend. “The Swami”  imparted some Brunonian wisdom before departing.

“Always put energy into everything you do,” Berman said. “That energy – and this place – will serve you for the rest of your life.”

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