Take a look through some SAIS blog posts.


SAIS x NFL Diwali Event

On Thursday, November 12th, 2020, South Asians in Sports partnered with the NFL APEX to co-host an event in recognition of Diwali and South Asians' contributions to sports.

Over 130 South Asians in sports attended the Zoom event, which featured Sonia Raman, the first-ever Indian-American female NBA coach and assistant coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, Olympian and professional tennis player Rajeev Ram, and WWE professional wrestler and former pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates Rinku Singh. The panel was moderated by Iwao Fusillo, SVP and Head of Data and Analytics at the NFL, and Neha Uberoi Khangoora, former professional tennis player and co-founder & CEO of South Asians in Sports (SAIS).

The co-sponsors of the event were SAIS, NBA, MLB, and NFL. The panelists discussed their experiences with an unorthodox career path, being one of the few or only South Asians in their sport, facing racism and personal doubts about being in the industry, using the South Asian identity to their advantage, and how they are leading more South Asians to enter the sports industry.

You can check out the recording of the event here:
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

SAIS Statement on Racism

South Asians in Sports is deeply saddened and outraged by the continued oppression of people of color in our society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and condemn the systemic racism and violence that they have been subjected to.

We recognize that as a community, South Asians have also contributed to the perpetuation of prejudice against Black Americans. We urge our members to examine their own biases and actively work towards addressing anti-Blackness in their homes and communities.

As a network of over 500 sports-industry professionals, we recognize the power of athletes and leagues to effect change and promote justice. We encourage all athletes and sports organizations to use their platforms to promote critical thinking, equality, and peace.

We believe that only by coming together, acknowledging the harm that has been done, and working towards a more just and equitable future, can we truly create a society that is inclusive for all.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Harshal Sisodia

Current Location: Seattle, WA

Occupation / Current Title & Organization you represent: CMO + Co.Founder of Super Heroic // //

We are a children’s experience company that focuses on footwear and apparel. As parents first, we are driven by our children and their amazing outlook on life, their sense of adventure, and their creativity.

We don’t ever want our children to question their superpowers or their ability to achieve, so we made it our mission to do something about it.

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
I don’t know if I chose this career as much as it’s picked me. What drove me was trying to find a career in which I can express my creativity in different ways from ideation to execution and all the steps in-between. I also grew up in a sports household – my dad was an avid cricket player, and we were always around hi-caliber athletes like Sunil Gavaskar and that iconic 80’s Indian cricket team. So I think being around those guys gave me a love for sports. Which then manifested itself into my career path of advertising, which then led to Jordan and Nike. All were preparing me for my own company.

How has being a South Asian impacted your career in sports (positively or negatively)?
It’s in every aspect of who I am. My culture, my identity is what gives me my perspective on things. From marketing campaigns to creative to having empathy and treating people with respect. So from that aspect, it’s incredibly positive.

From a negative standpoint – I have had to fight racism and stereotypes the entire way because I was the only brown person that I knew of doing what I was doing – so it’s not as if I had a network to lean on or someone to follow. I just had to keep my head down – and grind. I will say also I have faced an equal amount of stereotypes from our own people as well. Which was and still is super disheartening, but I use it as an opportunity to change those stereotypes one person at a time.

My hope is I can share my story for the next generation so they can learn and have the tools to handle it and fight it.

What was your inspiration for designing a shoe just for kids?
For me, it was about getting back to treating our kids like the kids they are and not mini-consumers. Making products that have empathy and thought and passion built-in – not just a profit margin. We see our selves as the guardians of the creative youth – and our entire DNA is getting kids to be more confident and helping them achieve. Lastly, I knew we could deliver on all this because of our team – which also includes the world’s foremost experts in the industry, not to mention my Co.Founder Jason Mayden.

What advice would you give to the next generation of South Asian sports industry professionals or those trying to break into the industry?
Nothing is given. You have to network, but more importantly, be and build authentic relationships. If you’re true to yourself, things will fall in line because people vibe off that authenticity. I would rather have ten folks that I can call at any moment to rock versus 100 that are just mutual relationships.

Second – be respectful of the process and the legacy. From footwear to sports organization – the countless amount of time that has gone into building these things – they won’t change overnight – you have to understand why things were done a certain way so that you can apply the change or expertise you bring to it.

Serena had this excellent quote which I have been vibing with – “Not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.”

Go get it, and as always reach out and ask for help if you need it. We are stronger together.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports


Event Recap: How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture

On Tuesday, August 6, the organization South Asians in Sports presented a panel discussion entitled "How Social Media is Impacting Sports Culture" at SeatGeek's headquarters in SoHo, New York. The event provided attendees with unique insights into the nexus of social media and sports through stories and advice from two accomplished professionals, Anmol Malhotra, Head of Sports Partnerships at Snap Inc. (the parent company of Snapchat), and Dev Sethi, Head of Sports at Instagram. The discussion was moderated by Jyoti Agarwal, a Lecturer at Columbia University and a Harvard MBA, who is an established strategy and marketing leader with more than fifteen years of experience leading teams to drive success. The event, which lasted from 6-8 p.m., was free and open to the public, drawing approximately sixty attendees from a range of backgrounds and walks of life, including athletes, students, career professionals, and fans.

Agarwal kicked off the event by asking the panelists about their career paths. An enlightening discussion ensued as Malhotra and Sethi narrated their journeys from backgrounds in technology, advertising, and finance to the sports social media universe. They explained that their diverse experiences had offered them transferable skill sets and perspectives, which have fostered success in their current roles in the sports industry.

Malhotra oversees sports partnerships at Snap Inc., leading relationships with leagues, broadcasters, and rights holders, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, UFC, FIFA, Fox, Turner Sports, and NBC. In this role, he also focuses on strategy for several content partnerships and sales initiatives with leagues, teams, and athletes to help them engage new audiences, experiment with innovative forms of distribution, and achieve their business objectives. In addition, Malhotra helps manage international growth initiatives with sports partners across Asia, Europe, MENA, and Latin America. Anmol is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and resides in New York City.

Sethi oversees strategic partnerships at Instagram, across the sports ecosystem, which includes athletes, leagues, teams, and media. Before joining Instagram, Sethi was Complex Networks' first Chief of Staff, reporting to CEO Rich Antoniello. There, he was responsible for developing strategic external partnerships as well as aligning internal operations across content, business development, finance, and production with the goal of maximizing output and efficiencies across Complex's portfolio of millennial-focused brands. Dev is also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a native of the D.C. Metro Area.

Both panelists explained that all social platforms are eventually looking to accomplish the same things within the sports industry - to consistently find unique ways to engage fans through their platforms. As a matter of coincidence, they both arrived at their current roles from non-sports positions and offered salient career advice. Malhotra explained, "There is no right or wrong career path in the sports industry. One should be flexible. I started in finance but always knew that I would want to work in sports." And Sethi added, "Sometimes, it is also helpful to take a break from work to channelize your inner self and reassess what is best for you. Be persistent and patient in pursuit of opportunities and also find ways to make yourself unique."

Audience members asked the panelists probing questions about each of their day-to-day responsibilities: "What does the social media space look like in the near future?" "What are some of the resources that they look at to keep up with the latest news within the sports industry?" Sethi and Malhotra listed the Sports Business Journal and Front Office Sports as excellent resources for staying in the loop. They also suggested that those interested in the field consult books written by people about the industry.

After the enriching discussion, the panelists participated in a networking session and interacted personally with the attendees. SeatGeek graciously provided an inviting space and ample refreshments. The event was wonderful and enlightening, offering participants new and helpful insights into the complex integration of social media and sports from two prominent leaders within the industry. Through SAIS convening this gathering, attendees from diverse backgrounds and career stages were able to meet, share, and learn.

Clink here to see more event photos.
Vratik Sharma headshot

Vratik Sharma

Sr. Program Manager, Live Sports at Amazon Ads

May Member Meetup Recap and Pics

Last night, South Asians in Sports hosted our first networking event of the year. The meetup took place at Baar Baar, a trendy new gastropub in New York City’s Lower East Side. Attendees mingled over delicious hors d’oeuvre courtesy of the restaurant and drinks. Sports professionals from various industries; media, marketing, law, business development and tech and sports; basketball, cricket, baseball and tennis had a chance to network with one another.

Check out the event in detail including pictures here.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Quazi Syque Caesar, a Trailblazer for South Asian Gymnastics

“It was the first sport I ever played, it was the first organized sport I’d tried. It’s the only sport I’ve ever done. And it clicked.”

Quazi Syque Caesar is a gymnast from Florida who has represented the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Bangladesh national gymnastics team in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He won Bangladesh’s first international gold at the Central South Asian Artistic Gymnastic Championships in December 2011. Caesar is now retired and is currently the Assistant Coach of the Stanford University Men’s Gymnastics team. His introduction to gymnastics was serendipitous, encountering a flyer for gymnastics while he and his father were walking home. His father asked young Caesar if he wanted to try it. His training began in 1997 in Florida, where he was the “only South Asian in the facility,” as far as he can remember. He remembers the gym had “people from all kinds of backgrounds, and everyone was very welcoming.” Thus began a journey that would see him perform at the college level for the University of Michigan and at the international level for Bangladesh, a country for which he holds dual citizenship alongside the United States.

Caesar understands the financial sacrifices his parents had to make to support his training. One of three children, Caesar tells us about the expenses that parents incur when putting their kids through gymnastics. The cost of uniforms, competition fees, and coaches’ fees all add up.

“My parents were struggling a bit sometimes,” he says, with no shortage of gratitude. “We were driving and traveling all over the place. There was definitely a time and financial burden on the family. But they were really supportive the entire time.”

Athleticism is in his blood. Caesar’s father had been a soccer player for the Bangladeshi national team and encouraged his son to push himself to the next level. His mother was excited as well. They were both pleased with his determination and commitment to the sport.

Balancing academics with training was much easier in high school for Caesar than in college. The latter proved to be a struggle, especially in his first two years.

“In school, I had figured out the system,” he tells us. “I got straight A’s because I had figured out how to get straight A’s.”

As for college, the gymnast wasn’t sure how to study or learn material in the same way he had cracked the system in high school. He freaked out when he saw a D on his report card in his freshman year, an incident he refers to as an “eye-opening experience.” Incidentally, he was injured his sophomore year and used that time to regain focus on school. By junior year, he had got the hang of balancing his academics with his gymnastics training.

The process for Caesar to represent Bangladesh in the Olympics started in late 2010. His college coach suggested that if Caesar was interested in taking his gymnastics career to the next level, he should consider competing for his home country, a thought that had not occurred to him before, although his father had been thinking of it for a while.

“In the year 2011, we started that whole process, thinking if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it all the way,” he says. “My dad had contacts within the Bangladesh Olympic Association and the general sports federation, and then we just started a conversation and a year-and-a-half-long process.”

By the end of 2011, he was able to compete for Bangladesh.

His community in the US was equally supportive of his status as an Olympian. He loves the feeling of being recognized and being asked for his autograph. Everyone around him, and especially his family, was highly supportive and proud.

Naturally, there were both pros and cons to his rigorous schedule, particularly when it came to family and culture. Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan was challenging, as he had to undergo intense training for four hours a day. He remembers trying to fast during training and literally losing consciousness.

Although, in general, the South Asian family lifestyle suited his training as his family had a late dinner. But he also missed out on special family time since he was on a strict routine.

“My schedule in high school was waking up at 5.45 in the morning, driving to school, which was 25 miles away,” he remembers. “So I’d leave around 6.15, get there right before 7, had school from 7-2. Then I’d drive another 60 or so miles to the gym. I’d get there around 3.40 and had practice from 4-9. Then another long journey back. I’d get back home around 10 o’clock. I’d eat dinner, do my homework. And refresh all over again.”

This wasn’t uncommon among high-level high school gymnasts. But for him, this meant missing out on quality time with his family, as well as missing out on spending weekends with extended family in Florida.

While Caesar absolutely loved the thrill of competition, he had to retire because of the brutal training.

“To compete at the highest level, you can’t do anything except train,” he says. “It was a full-time job. That’s just at the gym. In order to get at that level, you’re gonna get injured, you have to do physical therapy, you have to do rehabilitation work. It was pretty brutal if you wanted to be good. I’m someone who didn’t just want to participate.”

He also mentions that there isn’t much financial gain when it comes to male gymnasts in the US, unlike somewhere like Japan where men overshadow women. Moreover, he didn’t have a real job or work experience until he was 24 years old because he had done nothing but train for almost twelve years of his life.

He misses competing immensely, from the adrenaline rush to the feeling of nailing his routine. He also misses the brotherhood that comes with being part of a collegiate team.

“When you’re growing up in high school in the comp level, you’re by yourself,” he says, referring to competitions as “boring.” “But in the collegiate world, it’s super loud and exciting and being obnoxious and in general, teammates behind you just roaring and cheering. I miss being a part of it and knowing I’m competing against the best in the world. That was motivating for me. And to be able to prove myself.”

While he was finishing off school in communications and sports management, Caesar was trying to figure out future employment. His only work experience had been as an administrative assistant at the University of Michigan.

“I had nothing; all I had was gymnastics. I was a gymnastics nerd through and through,” he recalls. “There was a point I’d seen all the college men’s gymnastics videos on YouTube. I was all in, was always a student of the sport, a fan of the sport. And during the time I was training, I’d help guide the coach. Something just clicked that it was something that I was good at.”

His friends encouraged him to look into coaching, something he had never realized was a real job because his club gymnastics coaches growing up didn't make it feel like one. During his last year at Michigan as an administrative assistant, he began reaching out to collegiate coaches across the country. The men’s gymnastics coach at UC Berkeley at the time loved his work, but did not have a position available. However, he talked to the head coach at Stanford and Caesar got accepted as the Assistant Coach on the Stanford University men’s gymnastics team without any coaching experience.

Caesar sees a bright future for South Asians in gymnastics, as the typical body type is suited for the sport. "You want to be small but you want to be wide. You want to be strong but you want to be quick," he says. "The people of Bangladesh are built for it."

However, a lot of South Asians currently living in the subcontinent don’t have the privilege to play sports in proper facilities with trained coaches and are often asked to focus on academics. His parents’ immigration to the United States paved the path for him to participate in sports professionally, and he had the options available to him.

"You need to have a proper facility and an educated coach," he says. "Those two things are super hard to come by. It’s difficult to be a good coach and have a big or great facility. It’s hard to have the combination of both. It really comes down to having a good coach. Somewhere like Bangladesh, it’s going to be a long process."

According to Caesar, coaches have to stick with a gymnast from when they are six to the age of eighteen or nineteen years.

Caesar himself is in his fourth year of coaching now at Stanford, as passionate and excited about the sport as ever, glad to have an opportunity to share his knowledge and wisdom. While it is busy, he also loves that it is fun. It is clear that not only does he love coaching, but he loves every single aspect of gymnastics.
Padya Paramita headshot

Padya Paramita

Digital Content Specialist, SAIS, InGenius Prep

Member Spotlight: Nandita Nagangoudar

Sports can be greater than oneself, and used as a platform for social change. A shining example of an athlete aspiring to work toward a better future for women and children is mountaineer Nandita Nagangoudar.

Born and raised in Hubbali, Karnataka, Nagangoudar has already conquered four of the world’s seven summits. Initially a computer engineer and marketing manager, Nagangoudar now hopes to complete all of the seven highest peaks in the world, with the goal of empowering youth and women across India and the world through her journey and achievements. Her conquered peaks include Asia’s Mt. Everest (South Col), Oceania’s Mt. Carstensz Pyramid, Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, and and her latest conquer Europe’s Mount Elbrus, which she scaled this past October.

She was handed a great honor before her Mt. Carstensz Pyramid expedition, when in 2017, Nagangoudar was chosen to represent the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which comprises of 12 nations, on behalf of India. At the ASEAN flag handover ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017, Nagangoudar delivered a speech on the theme of strengthening India’s ties with other nations and womens’ empowerment through mountaineering.

Advocating for social empowerment is not new to Nandita. She believes her dreams “are as big as Everest as she not only aspires for herself but for others too.” Alongside empowering women and speaking for strengthening of India’s ties with the world she also advocates for awareness toward climate change, education, and fitness through all through her adventures completing the Seven Summits.

Nagangoudar’s next expedition awaits her in South America, where she will aspire to scale the continent’s largest peak, Mount Aconcagua of Argentina, which lies in the Andes mountain range. Carrying both the flags of India and Karnataka, Nagangoudar hopes to create awareness for the education and uplifting underprivileged children.

Once she has conquered Mount Aconcagua, Nagangoudar would only have the highest peaks of Antarctica and North America left to complete the the Seven Summits. As Nagangoudar continues to rise, her accomplishments grow with her, and 2019 seems to be a year full of hope for this humble and passionate mountaineer.

You can support/follow Nandita on her next climb on Facebook:
Padya Paramita headshot

Padya Paramita

Digital Content Specialist, SAIS, InGenius Prep

Vivo Pro Kabaddi League

The raider was swift, each step calculated with utmost precision and craftiness. With unwavering determination, he plunged towards his target. He was breathlessly swearing something and cautiously maneuvering the space around him as if his life belonged in that one movement.

No, I’m not describing a scene out of a thriller fiction novel. While the title of my article might have given it away, I am talking about one of India’s most culturally rooted sport- Kabaddi and now one of its most lucrative sports leagues- The Pro Kabaddi League.

What is Kabaddi?
For starters, it is not cricket.

Kabaddi (Pronounced- Kuh-Buh-Dee) is a contact sport involving seven active players on each side of a 33 ft × 43 ft. playing field. Players from each team alternate to act as “raiders” to fetch points for their teams.

The goal for each raider is to cross their half of the field, tag a player(s) of the opposing team and return safely to their side. Sounds simple, right? Maybe, a little twist would help. The raider must also chant the word “Kabaddi” incessantly without getting tackled.

A team earns points by getting the most tags (offensively) or defending the most raiders (defensively). Additionally, not chanting the “Kabaddi” mantra can get you out by default.

What is the Pro Kabaddi League?
The ripple effect of the Indian Premier League spread not only to commercialized Indian sports but also to hinterland sports such as Kabaddi. Initiated in 2014, the Pro (Professional) Kabaddi League has become one of the fastest growing leagues in India. For such a young league, it boasts an impressive roster of 12 teams not only from India but South Korea, Malaysia, Oman, Japan, and Iran amongst others.

Numbers don’t lie:

1. Viewership:

The online viewership increased to 13 million unique visitors this past season, which was 18.5 times that of last year’s unique visitors.

Additionally, the Pro Kabaddi League was watched by a total of 435 million viewers in its inaugural season in 2014.

2. Players and Popularity:

The most expensive pick at the 2017 auction was Nitin Tomar who received $9.3 million (USD) to play for the U.P. Yoddhas. The auction saw over 400 players go under the spotlight.

3. Owners and Popularity:

The chief proprietor, Star India is doubling its investment by growing the roster as well as the length of the league. This move comes after a growing demand for the sport. This will now give broadcasters a chance to draw greater value from the telecasts.

Owners include known and well regarded personalities such as Indian business moguls Gautam Adani and Kishore Biyani, Bollywood celebrities Abhishek Bachan and Ronnie Screwvala, and the Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar amongst others. Teams are well managed financially and are on the verge of breaking even as they rely on the central revenue pooling model.

What differentiated this league?
It is commendable to the owners and marketers who saw potential in a sport that had long been forgotten. With no household names and a lack of awareness on the sport, the owners managed to create a powerhouse of a league.

In my opinion, the fast-paced nature of the game, easy to learn rules, low to no cost equipment procurement and small set-up space helped push the league tremendously.

The season is well timed as it begins when the IPL season terminates, which avoids colluded attention from fans.

The league boasts of great international reach especially within the neighboring countries of India. Players from over 15 countries have shown participation. The league could be credited for having its own ripple effect as far out as Canada, Dubai and Pakistan which seem to be brewing their own Kabaddi leagues and tournaments.

What’s next?
For league owners, the next step is definitely to grow the league in terms of media and sponsorship rights. Despite the recent expansion, it hasn’t broken even yet. Though the goal doesn’t seem far off, it is imperative to move strategically.

A few potential advances down the line could be:

   Expansion into more countries to gain traction.

This could be hosting a potential game in an international venue and encouraging participation from other countries. This will also help Kabaddi strengthening its case as an Olympic sport.

   Solidifying and spreading Kabaddi’s awareness in the schools of India.
   Flourishing the league on the women’s side could be another point of contemplation.

All in all, while IPL might still be the highest profit-making league in the country, Kabaddi has to be a sport that has amassed the country’s grassroots and traditions.
Ananya Sachdev headshot

Ananya Sachdev

Founder, CEO, Mabrij Sports

Member Spotlight: Rahul B. Patel

San Antonio based attorney, NBA agent and sports industry leader, Rahul B. Patel is our featured member this week. Rahul has built a reputation in San Antonio as an industry leader and pioneer. He is the Managing Partner of the country’s 5th Fastest Growing Law Firm, Patel Gaines PLLC, a licensed NBA Agent, Real Estate Developer, Professor, and Serial Entrepreneur. In 2018 Patel founded, Fundamental Sports Management (FSM), an athlete management firm in 2018 with one simple goal – to change the way NBA players are represented throughout their life – not just their playing career.

Read our interview below with Rahul on what its like to be a South Asian sports industry leader!

Current Location: San Antonio, TX
Current Occupation: CEO, Fundamental Sports Management

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
Growing up in the South Asian community, sports was always an afterthought. I was often told it was a waste of time and energy, and my focus should be on my studies. Fortunately, I did just that; however, I never let my passion for sports—specifically basketball—die. When this opportunity was discussed I knew that I wanted to do something groundbreaking, novel to our community. I hoped to be a spark for others behind me. It is possible. Anything is possible. It just takes effort and passion.

What is it like to be the CEO of a company in an industry with very few South Asians?
How has being a South Asian impacted your career? It is very different. Usually, like my previous ventures into the legal and real estate fields, I always had friends, family and resources to go through—specifically in our South Asian community. Here, I really am one of the first. However, my resources have been the foundation of what we are doing at FSM. Many of my investors are from the South Asian community and have been instrumental in our launch.

You have been an industry leader for a long time now, do you have any tips on how one can stay on top of industry trends and developments?
Read, read, read! How you get information today is much different from when I was growing up. As a high school senior in 1998, I had to get up, tune into ESPN at a certain time or get the newspaper to find out what happened, what the score was, did an injury happen, etc. Today, with the Internet and social media, information, resources, and trends are all out there, but nothing replaces self-knowledge. My advice is to always read, keep up with the current trends and stay passionate.

What advice would you give to the next generation of South Asian sports industry professionals or those trying to break into the industry?
Never let fear drive your decisions.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Basketball Sisters – Shayna & Nina Mehta

It’s not every day you come across elite athletes who are sisters and Ivy League students. This week’s spotlight is on basketball champs Shayna and Nina Mehta.

Current Location: Brown Univeristy, Providence, RI.

Current Occupation/Organization: NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball, Brown University. Shayna is senior team captain and Nina is a freshman.

What has your journey(s) to becoming NCAA D1 basketball players been like? Can you give us a few highlights?
Our stories are very similar, almost identical. Growing up we were both gym rats, playing whatever sport was offered at school and in our community. We both started playing basketball when we were about 6 or 7 years old, first with our dad, and then with local Rec leagues, which then led to many years of playing AAU basketball on traveling teams. Basketball in middle school pretty much consumed our lives. We were both also fortunate enough to play in the same high school team together for one year, and both have led our small French Immersion high school team to regional titles.

In my sophomore year I was voted player of the year in San Francisco and 2 time league MVP. Nina was also voted top regional player.

I was recruited by Brown University Basketball after going to their elite camp in the summer at the end of my junior year, Nina in the summer after her sophomore year. We both instantly fell in love with the school and the basketball program. The players and coaches were all very welcoming, and the fast pace style of play was everything that we both were looking for in a college team.

Being from San Francisco, I think my biggest accomplishment was last year when I scored a career high 33 points against a crosstown school, Cal Berkeley (ranked top 20 nationally), while setting a school record with 9 three pointers made in a game..

Off the court it would have to be my summer trip to India with Crossover Basketball, a non-profit organization dedicated to impacting the education rates of marginalized communities in India through the use of basketball as a vehicle of change.

Some accolades at Brown: 5th youngest 1,000 point scorer in Brown history, averaged 18.5 in scoring last year (2nd in Ivy League), unanimous Ivy League rookie of the year, 2 time all- Ivy League selection, 2 time team MVP.

What is the best part of being a student-athlete?
Since Nina just started here at Brown, I will give you my feedback. I feel that being an Ivy League student-athlete is very special. I am constantly surrounded by highly motivated, incredibly smart students, who are also some of the best athletes in Division 1 sports. Being a student-athlete has allowed me to make friends not only in my academic curriculum, but also to form a very special long term bond with my teammates and coaches. I am hoping Nina also has this same experience.

What is it like being a South Asian American student-athlete? How has being South Asian affected your careers in sports?
What we like most about being South Asian student-athletes is that we have been able to break gender and ethnic barriers. People don’t expect 5’7’ desi girls to play basketball at this level.

What is something you wish the South Asian community knew about sports/college athletics?
Sports have never been highly regarded in the SA community, especially from the older generation and new immigrants. Things are changing though, and we are both glad to be a part of that change. We wish the SA community knew how much more playing a sport can add to a students college experience. Yes there is a large time commitment, with all the practices and travel, and no doubt it is tough to juggle all of the college experience, but we both feel that the journey is incredible and invaluable.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase NCAA participation?
Start as early as possible in picking a sport that you have a passion for and stick with it, no matter what your family and friends say. Be resilient. We were both very lucky to have supportive parents and friends who encouraged us to follow our passion.

Do you want to have a career in sports after you graduate?
Neither of us have really decided yet, but even if it’s not a career, we both know that sports will still be a big part of our lives.

You can follow Shayna and Nina on and Instagram @brownsplashsisters
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Nitin Varma, Tennis Channel

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Senior Producer, Tennis Channel

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
Simple. Sports has played an essential role in my development as a person throughout my life at various times and on various different levels. Combining my love of sports with my passion for storytelling and film has been an ideal fit for me to this point of my career.

How has being a South Asian impacted your career in sports?
I have always believed that the person we choose to be on the inside reflects more of who we are than our race or cultural origin. Having confidence and being positive are essential to allow yourself to grow and achieve your career goals.

What’s it like, behind the scenes, of Tennis Channel?
Behind the scenes at Tennis Channel there is always lots going on since the off season in tennis is pretty much nonexistent compared to other sports. Everyone works hard and long hours but at the same time everyone enjoys what they do.

What advice would you give to the next generation of South Asian sports industry professionals or those trying to break into the industry?
First and foremost it’s important to smile and have a positive attitude. When you are first breaking in the sports industry being a go getter and showing your passions are important. Always keep an open mind and take it upon yourself to learn new skills that will help you reach your career goals.

You can find Nitin Varma on Twitter @VarmaKarma10S
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Pratik Patel, New York Giants

Current Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA

Current Title/Organization: Director of Performance Nutrition and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, New York Giants.

You’ve worked as a high performance sports dietitian for almost your whole career. How did you become interested in this field?
I’ve always been interested in sports from a young age. I played soccer, basketball, football, and track and field in high school. My interest in nutrition and exercise began around that time. I started paying more attention to what I ate and how I trained and I started to see improvements in my physical attributes and abilities. I was fascinated by how the body can change and adapt based on proper training methods.

I didn’t initially study these fields in college, as I had entered as a mechanical engineering major due to my skills in math and science. I transitioned into Nutrition and Dietetics my second year and I found myself highly interested and excelling in the field.

What is working for a major NFL team like? Can you give us a few highlights?
Working for an NFL team is incredible, to say the least. I’m lucky to get a chance to be a part of a phenomenal organization that allows me to do the two things I enjoy most nutrition and strength coaching. Although the title may sound fancy, the work is quite demanding. There is not much time off and the schedule is rigorous, especially in-season when we work every day from the start of camp until our last game is played.

It’s a lot of fun to work with elite athletes and to help and support them. In my role, I spend as much time with the entire team, getting a chance to interact with everyone daily. A lot of the players have big personalities, so it is great getting a chance to connect and build relationships with them.

Game days are the best! Being in the locker room, on the sideline, and on the field during a game is exhilarating and surreal. I’m proud when I see what has flourished from my hard work. Seeing the athletes play at their peaks, working with the other coaches to train the players to perform their best, watching the crowds go wild when we score; all of this really makes me feel pretty lucky to be doing what I am.

How has being a South Asian impacted your career in sports? What is it like being one of the few South Asians working in pro sports?
I’ve always seen myself not as a South Asian working in sports, but as someone working in sports who is South Asian. I take pride in the fact that I am in a unique situation being one of the few South Asians in pro sports, and the only one on an NFL team in this capacity as an Assistant Coach. I use that as motivation to show others that South Asians can be an asset to a team, and to hopefully inspire other South Asians that might be contemplating a career in sports.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase our participation on the field and in the sports industry?
I think it is extremely important for the South Asian community to identify and nurture any interest in sports at a very young age and be open minded to experiences revolving around sports.

One of the reasons that you see so few South Asians in sports is that parents sometimes have a narrow view of areas that their children can succeed in, such as medicine, engineering, IT, etc. These beliefs stem from their own personal experiences, thus they only support and/or push their children in these areas as potential career choices. I have noticed that South Asian parents tend to think of sports as a hobby or recreation and just a way to get exercise, as my parents did, and not a serious outlet to pursue.

Since there are so few South Asians in sports it is perceived that anyone trying to get into the field will not succeed or be successful, but that is not the case. As described in PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, it is important not to fall victim to the self-fulfilling prophecy. If parents don’t feel their children have the genetics or talent to succeed in areas such as sports, and their children are told not to pursue it, then they will never excel at that skill and the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling.

The more time that is spent in sports, whether playing or being involved, especially at a young age, the more skills and experiences can be developed which can open up doors to more access and exposure to jobs in sports.

I also feel that if there is an interest in sports or an area of sports then that passion should be followed. A lot can be achieved with confidence and a good attitude and if a career in the sports industry is where someone feels they can thrive and be successful then it should be pursued if it feels like the right thing to do (in a similar way that I changed my studies in college).

South Asians can, currently are, and will continue to be successful in sports.

Do you have any specific nutrition or strength and conditioning tips for South Asian elite athletes?
Without going too in-depth, I will say that mastery of the basics in both aspects are vital to athletes, and being as consistent as possible can be a big contributor to overall success. In regards to strength and conditioning, it is important to understand training and competition demands, movement quality and efficiency, addressing areas of dysfunction and taking into account injury history. With all of this in mind, a proper program can be planned around individual needs based on the sport as well as the time of year. Training doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, flashy or complicated to be effective.

The same goes for nutrition. Understanding individual needs based on size goals, time of year, nutritional deficiencies, and a nutrition plan around the training schedule is vital. There is a lot of misinformation out there, including fad diets and supplements that promise quick results, but are lacking scientific evidence and can be detrimental to an elite athlete’s performance and health. Mastering the basics such as meal/snack timing, hydration, adequate meal composition and caloric intake, pre/intra/post training nutrition, and proper supplementation to go along with sleep and recovery can yield long-term success.

You can connect with Pratik via social media:
Twitter: @PratikxPatel
Instagram is @pratikxpatel
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Life as a Sports Management Student

Considering a graduate program in sports management? Hear from SAinSports member and grad student, Rishav Dash – MS Sport Management Candidate ’18 at the Isenberg School of Management University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Every athlete, former athlete or sports fan possesses a certain zeal for sports that in my opinion, words cannot do justice. Belonging to the latter two categories, I have been closely associated with sports throughout my life. It was during my undergraduate days when I started contemplating the idea of pursuing a career in the sport business and hence took on marketing responsibilities in the athletic department of my undergraduate college in Dubai, UAE. With time, my desire and aspiration to study sport management grew exponentially. I knew that it would be only a matter of time before I would embark upon my journey to chase my dream of working in sports.

A couple of years after graduating with an engineering degree, I was convinced that the time was right for me to march on to the next step – a Master’s degree in Sport Management. The most important part of the process was choosing the right program. For me, there were two deciding factors – the quality of faculty and the alumni network. That is where the prestigious McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst came in. The program ticked every box I could think of – be it from having electives of my choice to providing to providing the exciting prospect for hands on learning by participating in real life projects.

One of these projects was the 10th Annual “Octagon Bowl”. The Octagon Bowl is a semester-long graduate level sport marketing competition where teams of graduate students work on designing a sponsorship and activation campaign which upon completion, is presented to judges at the Octagon Headquarters. This particular experience has been the highlight of my sports ‘journey’ so far. I was a part of the winning team for this year’s Octagon Bowl which was very fulfilling and of course, encouraging. The project has also been instrumental in firmly establishing my aspiration to work as a sport marketer in the sponsorship space. I was able to network with several people in the sport industry. I am presently in the last few months my program, once again working on another real-life project for espnW which I’m really excited about.

I had the valuable opportunity to attend the Sport and Technology Panel organized by South Asians in Sports in New York City last fall. Today, I’m very proud to be a member and student ambassador of a community like SAinSports because it is an amazing platform to connect with like-minded people from the South Asian Community. For aspiring sports business professionals like myself, becoming a member of SAinSports presents a truly remarkable chance to learn about different experiences and seek valuable guidance from senior professionals in the industry. I’m convinced that my association with SAinSports will prove to be fundamental in my search for a breakthrough opportunity and my ultimate quest for successfully converting my passion into my profession.

You can connect with Rishav on social media: LinkedIn – rishavdash
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Sports Consulting – Media, Sponsorships & Asking “Why”

We love hearing from our members about their careers and what motivates them to work in sports. Check out a recent blog by Pushkar Sunyal, Group Head of Sports Consulting at GroupM in Mumbai, India.

I am a consultant working in sports and an introduction is usually followed up with a probing question as to what exactly I do. The word “consultant” is such – vague to the tee and usually reserved for experienced folks with in-depth knowledge about a specific knowledge area or someone well versed in theoretical models which may or may not have an application in the real world. Yet, I have realized, that more than anything else, a consultant is primary a story-teller – someone good at building narratives. Along with the plethora of other skills which are required, a consultant working in sport now faces a tremendous challenge – creating value to an industry which is small, fragmented and full of experts. Luckily for me, I started my career working in consulting with a large global conglomerate which mitigated a lot of these challenges – GroupM.

Back in 2014, I took a conscious decision to build a pathway to a career in sports. Although I spent a useful few years working for a software solution practice at a tech firm, I always envisioned myself working in sport – an interest area which took up way too much of my private time. After spending some time off, I took up an internship at Total Sports Asia (sports marketing agency), a big name in south-east Asia and worked on projects involving niche sports – obstacle course Racing, motor sports, cycling, etc. In the midst, I got a prestigious offer to study at the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst as part of the exclusive MBA/MS Sport Management Dual class of 2017. During my time here, I worked on numerous consulting projects with businesses of different kinds – licensed sports apparel manufacturer, regional grocery store and a sports arena. Combined with exposure to the North American traditions of sport, I realized, for the first time, how impactful at a global macro-level, sports can be. Fuelled by a thirst for a better understanding in my home country, I took up an internship with The Football Players’ Association of India (national soccer players’ union) to understand the challenges of soccer professionals. I also took up freelance work with Leverage Agency (sport marketing and consulting agency) and delivered support to their portfolio of projects in various sports.

Currently, I lead the sports consulting vertical of MConsult (a specialized brand consulting unit) at GroupM India and primarily work with brands who have investments in the lucrative Indian Premier League. I manage a product called “Sports Watch” which has tracked the three major sporting leagues in India since their inception. Some of the insights and reports we generate include ROI for brands, impact of tournament on brand saliency, and a range of reports for franchisees and owners. With Star India (owned by 21st century fox) buying the broadcast rights for the next 5 years at a colossal premium, the broadcast and media industry is poised for a shift. Cricket has always been more than a sport but the recent unprecedented growth in value has put the league amongst the elite.

Sport business is at a juncture where the lines are blurring – technology, lifestyle, marketing and social media are well part of the sports landscape now. Rights holders and administrators are adapting but there are still large pockets of the world which lag considerably to mature markets like North America. Commercialization is essential, but so is localization, I believe. The NFL is quintessentially American. The Bundesliga is very German. There are anomalies such as the NBA and The premier league, but they are rather the exception. That is one trait which the IPL has adopted – localization, and it’s reaping the benefits as a mass marketed property in India.

If asked to pinpoint one approach to building a successful career in sport, or any industry for that matter, I would suggest the habit of asking “Why”. This helps breaking down the problem and analysing potential fits. As someone who has envisioned being an entrepreneur, this is a useful habit as the sports industry now has many fragmented verticals. Therefore, to find one’s niche, one has to look at finding solutions to problems which perhaps are not recognized as problems as yet. This is where, asking “Why” comes into the picture. It’s a small but under-rated mental note. Of course, you don’t want to annoy your boss with why’s when he’s asking you to do some menial work J

You can get in touch with Pushkar via Social Media:

Twitter – @PushkarSanyal
LinkedIn – pushkarsanyal
Pushkar Sanyal headshot

Pushkar Sanyal

Senior Director Strategy, Mindshare

Member Spotlight: Aparajita Chauhan – Crew Leader

It’s not everyday you come across a South Asian American athlete participating in crew. As a matter of fact, Aparajita is our first and only member to be a crew athlete. Check out what this Yalie and member of the U19 National Crew Team has to say about being a South Asian in sports!

Current Location: Yale University, New Haven, CT

Current Occupation/Organization: Student, Coxswain on the Yale Women’s Crew team.

What has your journey to becoming an NCAA rower been like? Can you give us a few highlights?
A coxswain is like the coach in the boat- my job is to steer, execute the race plan, keep an eye on technique, and give information (placement, meters, speed) during the race. In the summer of 2017, I made the U19 National Team where I represented the United States at the U19 World Championships in Lithuania, and placed 7th in the 8+.

I coxed all four years for my high school team, Holy Names Academy in Seattle, and medaled three times at Youth Nationals, culminating with a gold medal in 2017 in the Lightweight 4+ event. I was also on the U19 CanAmMex team in 2016, placing 1st against Canada and Mexico. Having the goal of making the National Team pushed me to become better throughout my high school career and helped me to become the top women’s recruit when looking at colleges.

What is the best part of being a student-athlete?
You have an incredible support system on the team the second you get to school. Being a student athlete also means that I get to continue the sport I love at the highest level while expanding my horizons in the classroom. I’ve learned to manage my time even better in college because having two practices a day while taking rigorous classes forces me to utilize my time efficiently.

What is it like being a South Asian American student-athlete?
Rowing is a highly Caucasian-dominated sport, so I haven’t encountered many South Asians in my sport. Generally, I’ve noticed a lack of South Asian American student-athletes at my school. For anyone, representing a minority in any field is an honor and a privilege—its natural for others to be inspired by your success—like I was inspired by the upperclassmen I rowed with in high school.

What do you think the next generation South Asian community needs to increase NCAA participation?
I think it is important for the South Asian community to recognize the importance of sports in earlier stages such as middle and high school. It is easy to get too focused on only doing well in school and clubs, but sports provide important life skills such as teamwork, time-management, and physical and mental discipline. I think many parents fear that their children will sacrifice grades if they focus too much on sports, but the discipline inculcated by sports has benefits in the classroom as well. In high school, I had practice every day after school (and before school in the spring), but was able to maintain my focus in the classroom and graduated Valedictorian.

Do you want to have a career in sports after you graduate?
I am keeping my options open. As of right now, I plan to go into technology and philanthropy, but I know that I can’t stay without crew for too long. I am looking to pursue the USA U23 team so I may end up pursuing the Senior and Olympic teams as well.
When she isn’t practicing with her team, you can find Aparajita on Twitter: @aparajita_ch and Instagram: @aparajita_c.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

2017 End of Year Roundup

Happy New Year!

As we bring 2017 to a close, we would like to thank our members for an incredible year. It’s been so fun meeting South Asians working in sports at our events, online and around town. We are so encouraged to see our community growing on a weekly basis and look forward to taking SAinSports to new heights.

2017 has been a very successful year for SAinSports, check out the standout moments we’ve selected for each month in 2017:

January 2017
Canadian Ice Hockey player, Jujar Khairascores his first NHL goal!

February 2017
Akshay Khanna, VP of Strategy for the Philadelphia 76ers led the acquisition and merger of two eSports teams and negotiated an estimated $25 million jersey sponsorship deal with StubHub!

March 2017
SAinSports hosts our first ever event, a panel discussion and networking event in Manhattan, NYC!

April 2017
Kavita Akula becomes the first Indian female to get a NCAA Division I scholarship!

May 2017
Vasu Kulkarni’s Krossover acquired by Blue Star Sports!

Also in May 2017
FIBA agrees to let Sikhs and Muslims play basketball with their turbans and hijabs!

June 2017
Indian tennis player Ramkumar Ramanathan has arguably the biggest singles win of an Indian tennis player since Leander Paes (df. Pete Sampras 1998) beating Dominic Thiem in straight sets!

July 2017
ESPN has announces that Kevin Negandhi will anchor ESPN College Football on ABC for the upcoming season.

Also in July 2017
Atul Khosla becomes Chief Corporate Development and Brand Officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

August 4th
Congrats to 200th ranked India pro tennis player Yuki Bhambri on reaching the Quarterfinals with some big upsets along the way at the ATP Citi Open.

Also in August 4th
Randip Janda of Hockey Night in Punjabi is now helping launch the new Sportsnet 650 in his hometown.

September 2017
South Asians in Sports hosts its first event in Chicago, Il!

October 2017
South Asians in Sports hosts our third event, a panel discussion and networking night in Manhattan, NY!

November 2017
Sports Illustrated journalist, Priya Desai, sat down with the NJ Senator to discuss race, anthem protests, and what they represent to him.

Also in November 2017
Preetam Sen of City Football Group is named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Sports

December 2017
Sports Illustrated journalist, Rohan Nadkarni cohosts SI TV’s The Crossover: A basketball lifestyle talk show about the players, games, culture, fashion and memes.

We look forward to more success in 2018!

Have you joined the SAinSports community yet? Don’t miss out on member exclusive events and perks in 2018! Click here to join today!
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports


New York City Event Recap

On October 5th 2017, South Asians in Sports hosted a panel discussion and networking night for the South Asian sports professional community in New York City. Our event brought together a panel of successful professionals working at the burgeoning intersection of sports and technology including: Deepen Parikh, Devi Mahadevia, Ammad Sheikh, Manny Anekal and sports journalist Adi Joseph (as moderator). They spoke to our New York area members about their paths to sports, the current challenges they face, future trends in technology and what it takes to ‘break-in’ to the business of sports. From listening to their success stories, it is clear that each panelist has overcome familial pressures, stereotypes and competition to have thriving careers in the business of sports.

Our event brought together a wide array of South Asian sports professionals working in a diverse set of industries from; the media, the NBA, academia, startups, sports academies, and students. It was great to see some familiar faces and a lot of new members since our first event in March, 2017.

Check out the full event including photos here.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Priya Narasimhan

Priya Narasimhan will be a panelist at SAinSports upcoming New York Event.

Priya Narasimhan is a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests lie in the fields of dependable distributed systems, fault-tolerance, embedded systems, mobile systems and sports technology. She serves as the academic lead of the Intel Science and Technology Center in Embedded Computing (ISTC-EC) that comprises Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, UIUC, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech.

Priya Narasimhan is the CEO and Founder of YinzCam, Inc., a Carnegie Mellon spin-off company focused on mobile live streaming and scalable video technologies to provide the ultimate mobile fan experience to 40+ professional sports teams/venues. Priya’s entrepreneurship has earned her a 2012 International Bridge Award from Global Pittsburgh, and a 2011 ad:tech Innovation Award.

Her spare time is devoted to to watching professional (American) football and ice-hockey games. She is a rabid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sports and Technology panel and networking night.
Date: Thursday, October 5th, 2017
Time: 6:30-9:00pm (Panel starts at 6:40pm)
Location: WeWork Grand Central (450 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017)
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

My Sports Career Journey: The Boomerang Approach

I always wanted to be at the forefront of using digital technology and entrepreneurship to promote sports and entertainment. For me, as a computer science engineering graduate, understanding digital media and its technical applications, was the missing piece in the puzzle. Working in the sports and entertainment digital media industry requires envisioning the future, leveraging technology and practicing with the best in the business. That brought me to Columbia University and its Sports Management program. Here, I landed three highly coveted internships – one at Wasserman (a sports and entertainment agency in New York), one at New York City Football Club (the MLS franchise) and another at Columbia Athletics (Media and Communication department). I also worked as a freelancer at two companies – Leverage Agency (a sports marketing and sponsorship agency) and Inside Crowd (a PR and marketing startup based in Brooklyn), undertook a digital media project for Yahoo! Sports and AOL, volunteered at at-least a dozen sports conferences and events in the city, and coached the U-17 South Bronx United Boys’ soccer team. Now, a month after graduating from the program, I’ve joined a near-dream job at a sports digital-tech company called Grabyo in New York.

In my senior year in undergrad, I did a marketing/operations internship at Nasscom 10,000 Startups – a platform that provides mentoring, incubation and acceleration to young startups in India. I can claim to have learned two things here – the relentless attitude and bootstrap skills of entrepreneurs. Simply watching this unfold before me helped me in the long run. I began noticing how different entrepreneurs reacted and approached situations and setbacks. It was a live case study of sorts. Beyond networking, I observed something unique to the entrepreneurs around me. They spoke openly about their plans – what they want to do, where they want to be and who they want as part of their team. I made a mental note of this practice. It would be handy someday I said to myself.

Having previously worked on my own startup, with startups and big corporate companies such as Facebook, I returned to pursue my ‘dream’ – a career in sports and entertainment (and therefore the Sports Management program at Columbia University). I really wanted to be at the intersection of sports, digital media and technology, and shape the industry in years to come. However, I didn’t know where to start.

In New York, you’re surrounded by people from all walks of business. Everyone will tell you that ‘networking is the key’ and share stories of how they ‘networked their way’ to a job. I strongly endorse that piece of advice; however, I’m not going to ask you to network, you’re going to do that anyway (at least I hope you will). I’d recommend another strategy which complements business networking. I call it the ‘boomerang approach’.

What is the boomerang approach?
It’s simply the practice of sharing your career plans with everyone you meet. Start incorporating ‘what you want’ into your personal pitch. You throw it out there in the universe and wait for it to come back to you. Now irrespective of your status you will either be looking for an internship or a job sooner or later. The competition out there is fierce, more so in niche fields (surprising, right?!). The Columbia (or any other) brand will help you stand out and jump 90% of the candidates, but that isn’t enough! You’ve now entered the top 10%. This is the true test of your competence and creativity.

We all try hard to strike a rapport with the people we meet. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This approach works (most times) irrespective of whether you forged a relationship or made an impression. For instance, during networking events, I told people who I was and what I wanted to do – “Hi I’m Akash Bhat, a former entrepreneur and a sports management graduate student at Columbia University… I’m currently exploring opportunities/interested in working for a sports-tech company in the digital space”. The emphasis on ‘sports-tech’ and ‘digital’, was the key to being memorable. It’s easier for someone to register and relate to you when you tell them about what you want to do. At most networking events students don’t know what they want to do, they come off seeming very abstract. I’ve often heard my fellow colleagues saying, “I want to work in the NBA or MLS (or PwC)”. As good as it sounds, it’s still very vague. The NBA or the MLS for instance are split across various sub-verticals such as fan development, player development, marketing, ticket sales etc. You’re not the first person who an employer meets and certainly not the last. Start by identifying your niche and make sure your share that with as many people as you can. It registers. Next time they come across an opening or know someone looking for a candidate, they will go – ‘Hey I know someone who wants to work in sports-tech/digital space’. That’s exactly how I landed an internship and then a full-time job! Today, I’m loving every minute of everything I do – soaking in the experience and expanding my network.

I want to get back to entrepreneurship and start my own business in the future and I tell that to everyone I meet. It’s bringing me one step closer to my dream. It’s as if the boomerang approach albeit practical also has a philosophical side to it.

I’m proud to be a member of South Asians in Sports, where I feel I can continue to network with like minded professionals, share my experiences and learn about the sports industry. I’m excited to attend the upcoming Sports & Technology panel discussion and networking event on Thursday October 5th, at WeWork Grand Central, right where our Grabyo office is. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Follow Akash on Twitter @Akashashky
Akash Bhat headshot

Akash Bhat

Program Manager, Scrum Ventures

Member Spotlight: Akshay Khanna

Akshay Khanna will be a panelist at SAinSports upcoming New York Event.

Akshay K. Khanna joined the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils/Prudential Center in July 2015 as the Vice President of Strategy and head of the business strategy department, where he is responsible for driving the organization’s strategic direction and new business initiatives and investments. This includes responsibilities in aligning the ticket sales, corporate partnerships, marketing, fan engagement, and customer acquisition functions of the teams, as well as advancing the growth of the combined Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils organizations.

Over his past year and a half with the Sixers organization he has played a crucial role in initiating some of the sports industry and NBA team’s most innovative and groundbreaking business decisions. Under Khanna’s guidance the Sixers have become the first team in North American professional sports to acquire and merge two eSports teams; launched the most dynamic Innovation Lab managed by a professional sports team in the United States; developed a groundbreaking ticketing platform that has revolutionized the live event industry and ticketing ecosystem; and signed a landmark agreement to become the first professional team in “Big Four” North American sports with a jersey patch sponsor.

Khanna was recently selected to be a part of the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 class in 2017. In addition to his duties at the Sixers, Khanna was an Adjunct Professor of Sports Business for the Sports Administration graduate program at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. Additionally, he serves as an Industry Expert for Columbia University’s online Sports Business program. In May, 2015 he published a case, The Philadelphia 76ers: Innovation at the Forefront of a Sports Business Turnaround, for The Wharton School of Business Wharton Digital Press. He currently guest lectures at a class on Sports Business Methods for The Wharton School of Business MBA program.

Khanna will deliver an individual lecture on innovation in the sports industry at the revered Sloan Analytics Conference in March, 2017. He has previously been invited to speak on the connection between the NBA and eSports at the TEAMS Conference (2016) and has additionally spoken at the Landmark Media and Technology Summit (2016) on innovation and the sports business landscape. Khanna is a regular guest lecturer at the Wharton School of Business’ graduate and undergraduate programs, leading discussions on sports innovation and the use of analytics for ticket pricing, sponsorship, marketing and fan engagement. He was invited to speak at the Lauder Graduate Association Weekend in 2016, on the importance of sports brand recognition and growth.

Before joining the 76ers, Khanna served as an Associate at Sycamore Partners, a consumer retail-focused private equity firm in New York City with more than $3.5B under management. While at Sycamore Partners, Khanna was involved in evaluating and executing leveraged buyouts and assisting portfolio companies with strategic initiatives and add-on acquisitions. Prior to Sycamore Partners, Khanna was an Analyst at Audax Group, a middle-market private equity firm in Boston with more than $9B in assets across its equity, mezzanine debt, and senior debt businesses.

Khanna earned his A.B., graduating magna cum laude from Middlebury College. He graduated with honors with an MBA from The Wharton School and an MA in International Studies from The Lauder Institute at The University of Pennsylvania. Khanna serves on the National Executive Committee for Minds Matter, an education non-profit, and on The Wharton Club of Philadelphia Board. He currently resides in New York, NY.

Event Details:
Date: Thursday, October 5th, 2017
Time: 6:30-9:00pm (Panel starts at 6:40pm)
Location: WeWork Grand Central (450 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017)
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Adi Joseph

Adi Joseph will be our moderator at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Adi Joseph is the deputy managing editor of CBS Sports, leading NBA and college basketball coverage. He’s covered sports for a decade, including NBA All-Star and playoff games, U.S. Open tennis, NASCAR races and more.

Follow Adi on Twitter for some entertaining tweets @AdiJoseph
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Devi Mahadevia

Devi Mahadevia will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Devi Mahadevia leads Global Strategic Partnerships for sports leagues and governing bodies at Facebook. In this role, she works with partners worldwide to help them reach new audiences, experiment with innovative forms of distribution and achieve their business objectives. This consultation covers initiatives across Facebook’s family of apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus.

Devi joined Facebook after a career in digital sports licensing and corporate development, with stops at the NFL, NHL and Comcast. She received an M.B.A. in Marketing and Strategy from Wharton School of Business and a B.S. from the University of Maryland College Park.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports


Chicago 2017 Event Recap

On September 21st South Asians in Sports hosted a panel discussion and networking night for the South Asian sports professional community in Chicago, IL. Our panel of industry leaders: Pooja Van Dyke, Ram Padmanabhan, Rashid Ghazi, Sahadev Sharma, Vinay Mullick and moderator Payal Patel spoke about their paths to sports, current challenges and future trends in their companies and what it takes to ‘break-in’ to the business of sports. They also shared some amusing anecdotes about working in sports as a South Asian minority.

It was inspiring to see such accomplished professionals as well as athletes, recent grads and students come together to network in Chicago. We can’t wait to be back in Chicago for another event and to see the community grow even bigger!

See more about our event and some photos here.
Neha Uberoi headshot

Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Ammad Sheikh

Ammad Sheikh will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Ammad Sheikh is the Director of Marketing at LeagueAppsl in New York City. LeagueApps make it easy for organizers to run local sports programs and easy for participants (and their families) to get the most out of their sports experiences. Through the LeagueApps network, sports organizations grow with marketing tools, generate new revenue streams, and connect with value and savings through marketplaces.

Prior to LeagueApps, Ammad helped build Capify from 6 employees to over 200 across 3 continents. Ammad is also the founder of South Asian Sports, a sports league, where they run softball, basketball, football, and bowling leagues. Not to mention, he organizes community events including fundraisers and charity tournaments all over NY and NJ. Since its inception in 2005, the South Asian Sports Network has attained over one thousand adult and youth members throughout Long Island and NYC. The South Asian Sports members routinely engage in sports leagues including basketball, softball, football and bowling. Ammad spearheaded this effort to keep the youth active and as a form of passive networking. After recognizing that our communities youth hadn’t engaged in organized sports. This organization branched out with fundraising endeavors through softball and bowling tournaments raising tens of thousands of dollars for the victims of Pakistan’s Earthquake as well as raising money for cancer research. Ammad is also is one of the inaugural members of Ballin 4 Charity: an annual Basketball Tournament that brings together the leaders in startup technology, investing, and sports. Using his career experience as a marketing director, Ammad routinely consults for charitable events to further increase their membership base, attendance, and overall player experience.

Ammad’s volunteer work has been appreciated both publicly and privately and has been featured in Newsday and News12. Ammad has been recognized by Nassau County County Executive Edward Mangano and Deputy County Executive Rob Walker for his work in Nassau County for promoting sports to the South Asian youth.

Ammad is always hosting events with various sports teams. He has organized events for the youth to Nets game at the Barclays Center. Barclays Center granted a special waiver to allow Halal Food for the first time in the stadiums history for this event. Ammad has also organized numerous outings to Madison Square Garden where youth were able to go early and watch the Knicks practice and even go on the court to “high five” the players as they ran onto the court. Recently, Ammad helped organize an event talking about bias incidents against the Muslim community in Long Island bringing county police and local politicians to discuss these incidents. Ammad further aims to build bridges with the overall community to create a better understanding each other.

In his free time you can find Ammad coaching CYO Basketball, running from one child’s baseball practice to another one’s basketball practice or playing in one of the various South Asian Sports leagues in Long Island.

Follow Ammad Sheikh on twitter @AmmadPSheikh
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Vinay Mullick

Vinay Mullick will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st.

Vinay Mullick just completed his first year as the Midwest Regional Executive Director for UpMetrics. UpMetrics is a socially driven technology company that provides a data analytics platform used nationally by schools and community organizations.

Prior to his current role, Vinay, a Teach For America alumnus, worked on Chicago’s Southside for 12 years as a teacher, coach, activities director, and athletic director. From 2007 to 2016, Vinay worked as the Director of Athletics and Activities for the Perspectives Charter Schools Network. Vinay served as the founding athletic director, and built the Perspectives Charter Schools Athletic Department from its infancy. By 2016, Vinay had grown the department by five times, and at that time the department supported approximately 700 student-athletes and 85 coaches, and fielded 55 teams. During his time at Perspectives, Vinay oversaw the meteoric rise of NBA star, Anthony Davis, from a local prep player to the #1 ranked high school basketball player nationally, to the prized recruit of University of Kentucky 2011 recruiting class.

As an athletic director, Vinay sat on numerous state advisory committees, served as an elected Legislative Commission member to the Illinois High School State Association, and served on the executive board of the Illinois Athletic Directors Association. In 2013, Vinay was named Division 1 Athletic Director of the Year by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association. He is a regular presenter at local and national conferences on topics related to urban athletics and data-driven decision making.

Vinay has a BS in Industrial Engineering from Northern Illinois University, a Masters in Secondary Education from Dominican University, and Masters in School Counseling from Concordia University. A native of Chicago’s western suburbs, Vinay resides in La Grange, IL with his wife Mia, and their three children.

You can follow Vinay on twitter @VinayMullick
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Rashid Ghazi

Rashid Ghazi will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st.

Rashid Ghazi is a business leader and entrepreneur with over 27 years of experience working in sponsorship marketing, media, advertising, content production and event creation. After spending the first 12 years of his career between the Leo Burnett Company, Intersport Television and Halo Sports & Entertainment, Rashid helped create Paragon Marketing Group where he has been a Partner for the past 15 years. Paragon which has offices in Skokie and Chicago, has grown into one of the leading independent sponsorship engagement agencies in the country with over 100 employees and clients including: Gatorade, ESPN, Yokohama, PNC Bank, Johnson & Johnson, UC Health, PPG Paints, Bayer Healthcare and DICK’S Sporting Goods. On behalf of its clients Paragon has placed over half-billion dollars into the sponsorship marketplace negotiating agreements and developing marketing platforms with a variety of NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB teams along with governing bodies such as the PGA TOUR, NCAA, USSA and USOC. In addition they have negotiated endorsement agreements with a number of athletes and celebrities including: Beyonce, Faith Hill, Drake, Cal Ripken Jr., Muhammad Ali, Joe Buck, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders and Lindsey Vonn.

On the content side, Rashid has created over 2,500 hours of sports television programming including live events, documentaries and episodic series for companies such as ESPN, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN. In 2002 Rashid identified a new content opportunity in sports entertainment – nationally televised live high school sports programming. He first produced a high school basketball game featuring LeBron James for broadcast on ESPN2 which delivered a record rating for the network. The success of that telecast launched the live nationally televised high school event genre for ESPN. The network has since televised over 500 games delivered by Paragon featuring future NBA and NFL first round draft picks such as: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Tim Tebow, Julio Jones, AJ Green and Jameis Winston.

In addition to his work with Paragon, Rashid founded his own production company, North Shore Films in 2009. North Shore’s first production was the award winning sports documentary FORDSON: Faith, Fasting, Football. The film was distributed by AMC Theaters nationwide and has since been televised in over 30 countries. In addition, FORDSON has garnered multiple industry and film festival awards including Best U.S. Documentary at the Traverse City Film Festival hosted by Michael Moore. The Film was also screened at the U.S. State Department and was honored by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rashid grew up in Skokie, Illinois and attended high school at North Shore Country Day in Winnetka. He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Redlands in Southern California where he double majored in Business and Sociology and served as Student Body President. He received his MBA in June of 1999 from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the North Shore Country Day School and IQRA Educational Foundation.

Rashid resides in Glenview with his wife, Ruhma, their daughter, and three sons.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Deepen Parikh

Deepen Parikh will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York Event.

Deepen is a Partner at Courtside Ventures, which is an early-stage VC fund, backed by Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and WPP. They focus on investing in technology companies across the sports, media and gaming verticals. Prior, he was a Partner at Interplay Ventures, a NY based incubator and early-stage investor. He co-founded NYVC Sports with the mission of bridging the gap between sports leagues, teams, investors, entrepreneurs, and media companies.

Prior to joining Interplay, Deepen spent time working with a family office on the potential acquisition of a professional sports franchise. Deepen started his career as an Associate at UBS and earned his BA in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Read the latest news on Deepen Parikh and Courtside Ventures:
FanAI Closes a Venture Round led by Courtside Ventures
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Manny Annekal

Manny Annekal will be a panelist at SAinSports’ upcoming New York event.

Manny Anekal is currently running several companies within the eSports ecosystem: The Next Level (The Business of eSports Media), Versus Sports (Consulting), VS Sports (eSports team) and Loot Ventures (eSports Investment Fund).

Manny has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of Gaming, Marketing and Brands. His first role was with the startup Massive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Xbox in 2006, followed by Executive roles at Electronic Arts, Zynga, Kiip and most recently with Major League Gaming.

He will also take you on in Clash Royale.

Twitter: @mannyanekal
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Pooja Van Dyke

Pooja Van Dyke will be a panelist at SAinSports event in Chicago on September 21st.

Pooja Van Dyke, Associate Director at ESPN CreativeWorks has been working at ESPN for 12 years. She started as a Production Assistant in Bristol, CT- ESPN Headquarters. 3 days into working there, Pooja was cutting NBA and College Football highlights to run in SportsCenter and ESPNEWS. She developed a knack for creative highlights and won creative awards and accolades from her production team and beyond in the early years. It was then, she knew that she wanted to stay within the creative realm of storytelling. She grew up in the ESPN system and worked as a Production Assistant eventually an Associate Producer and worked behind the scenes with many critically acclaimed shows such as: SportsCenter, College GameDay, College Football Live, NFL Live, NFL Countdown, Outside The Lines, World Cup, etc. She worked alongside some of the most famous sport journalists such as the beloved Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Patrick, John Anderson, Kirk Herbstreit, Kenny Mayne, Chris Berman and beyond. As Pooja wrapped up her days in Live TV, she had an Emmy Nomination, an iron confidence and the backing of some of the biggest sports household names in the world.

Pooja had her eyes set on the big city. She shifted from Production to working in Brand Marketing and moved from ESPN HQ in Bristol to New York City. Pooja worked on several campaigns during her time with ESPN brand including This is SportsCenter, College GameDay Football, College Football on ESPN, MLB on ESPN, and World Cup. Here she picked up her second Emmy nomination working on This is SportsCenter ads featuring aerobics enthusiast Richard Simmons, ESPN MLB analyst Karl Ravech, MLB star Jose Reyes and NFL star Adrian Peterson. She traveled often to sporting events and traveling studio shows learning the ins and outs of brand representation and the importance of protecting the brand as it becomes relevant to advertisers.

With this insight and a hunger to learn more, Pooja joined a team called Co-Marketing. Within this small, but powerful team, ESPN partnered with advertisers to develop cobranded creative that helped sell advertiser objectives through an ESPN lens. Pooja and this 10 person team saw the importance of the work they were doing and quickly shifted goals to develop a stronger and bigger team. Pooja was a founding member of the team CreativeWorks at ESPN. Under this umbrella group, Pooja’s former brand team was merged with her new team to develop a stronger more efficient group- CreativeWorks. CreativeWorks was one of the first network internal creative agencies developed. Partnering with ESPN CreativeWorks allows advertisers to a full service idea center that delivers compelling creative solutions, inspiring our fans to connect with brands. Pooja has lead collaborations with multimillion dollar spenders and top-level marketers such as Apple, Beats by Dre, GM, Ford, Nissan, Home Depot, Gatorade and McDonalds. Pooja is instrumental in strategizing, creating and executing work presenting ad revenue for ESPN.

Pooja’s office is bathed in a deep shade of scarlet and gray to represent her Ohio State roots. Don’t let her College fandom fool you, Pooja is a Chicago girl who grew up rapping The SuperBowl Shuffle, watching Ryne Sandberg play and saw Michael Jordan play for $8 bucks. It’s no wonder that she ended up working in sports – she has been surrounded by some of the all-time greats.

Beyond sports, Pooja prides herself as being a mother to an awesome two year old and as a black belt in creative thinking. She lives and breathes music, recently turned in her Brooklyn membership card when she traveled back home to Chicago and may or may not have been the reason that The Cubs broke their curse and won The World Series upon her return.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Payal Patel

Payal Patel will be moderating the panel at SAinSports’ first Chicago Event.

Payal is an international award-winning communications professional with nearly a decade of experience. With a knack for writing and storytelling, Payal originally set out for a career in sports broadcasting upon graduating from Marquette University. Following a stint with Milwaukee’s ABC-TV affiliate, she returned to her hometown of Chicago to transition to a career in public relations.

Currently at Navy Pier, Payal manages internal and external communications and serves as the primary spokesperson for the top destination in the Midwest, which welcomes more than nine million guests each year. She played a pivotal role in developing and executing the PR strategy for Navy Pier’s centennial celebration, which includes a robust lineup of special events and programming and pier-wide redevelopment efforts to enhance the iconic landmark as it enters its next century.

As the Director of Public Relations for the NFL Players Association – Chicago Chapter, Payal oversaw all press inquiries, media outreach, event promotions, social media platforms and public relations campaigns on behalf of the organization, its charitable arm and the players involved. She was instrumental in creating and implementing the media strategy for the Chapter’s involvement in the NFL Draft in Chicago, the concussions lawsuit against the NFL, among other key events and initiatives led by the organization and its members.

Payal also managed corporate communications for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, coordinating press coverage around the Club’s corporate partnership agreements, business development announcements, marketing campaigns, community relations efforts and the Chicago Fire Foundation. She led the public relations campaigns for the 2014 FIFA World Cup viewing parties in Chicago and the Fire’s new primary and third kit launches.

Prior to that, Payal served as the Director of Public Relations for the Chicago Soul FC, a professional indoor soccer team. She oversaw all communications for the Soul organization, including media strategy, campaign development, crisis management, press announcements, game recaps and highlights, post-game interviews with players and coaches, special promotions, among other responsibilities for the then-startup organization.

In December 2016, Payal was recognized at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. for being named to the PR News Rising Stars 30 Under 30 list, which honors budding PR leaders worldwide. She is also a recipient of the MarCom Platinum Award, the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Golden Trumpet Award, and the Public Relations Society of America Chicago Skyline Award of Excellence for her collaborative work on the PR efforts around Navy Pier’s new Centennial Wheel.

​Presently, Payal sits on the local boards for Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Women In Sports and Events (WISE), and is a member of the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) and Chicago Leadership Alliance (CLA), an exclusive network of distinguished leaders in Chicago. As part of her philanthropic involvement, she volunteers regularly at Feed My Starving Children and Habitat For Humanity, while serving as an ambassador for Room to Read.

Payal resides in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago with her goldendoodle, Leo – named after her favorite soccer player, Lionel Messi.

You can follow her on twitter @PayalPatelPR
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Ram Padmanabhan

Ram Padmanabhan will be a panelist at SAinSports’ first Chicago Event.

Ram Padmanabhan joined the Chicago Bulls at the beginning of the 2013-14 season as the Vice President of Financial and General Counsel. He is responsible for the team’s compliance with legal, regulatory and NBA requirements and oversees the team’s financial and human resources functions.

Ram previously served as Vice President, Chief Counsel-Corporate and Company Secretary for Aon plc, where he was responsible for overseeing corporate transactional matters, and also advised Aon management and the Board of Directors on various corporate governance matters. Before joining Aon, Ram was a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he represented the Chicago Bulls and the United Center as well as professional sports teams and corporate sponsors of professional sports teams on a variety of promotional, media, sponsorship and general corporate matters.

Prior to joining Katten, Ram practiced with the Chicago offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Pattishall, McAuliffe and served as a law clerk to Judge William J. Bauer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McGill University in 1990, and his Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law in 1993.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotligh: Sahadev Sharma

Sahadev Sharma will be a panelist at SAinSports first Chicago Event.

Sahadev Sharma is a Chicago native and lead Cubs writer for The Athletic – a subscription based “premium destination of insider scoop, player analysis, & expert opinion for fans that get it.”

Previously Sahadev was a national baseball writer for Baseball Prospectus. He also brings experience from ESPN Chicago. Sahadev grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago, graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is also a diehard Illinois basketball fan. He now resides in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and two kids.

You can follow Sahadev on twitter @SahadevSharma and check all his articles for The Athletic here.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Josh Varughese, New York Yankees

This week, SAinSports is shining the spotlight on a recent college grad who just started his career in the world of professional sports. Josh Varughese, graduated from Rutgers University last year with a B.S in Sports Management and is now an Account Executive for Inside Sales at the New York Yankees.

What made you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
From a young age I invested heavily in sports, drawing passion from the game of basketball, hoping to make a life out of it. In lieu of a professional sports career, sports helped me develop fundamental characteristics that are applicable not only in business, but also in life. Particularly, it introduced me to the value of camaraderie, work ethic, and the significance of being a goal-oriented individual. I was immediately attracted to the business side of the sports & entertainment world after taking a deeper look at what it offers.

Being South Asian, did you come across any barriers in choosing an undergraduate degree in sports management? For instance, at home with your parents?
Of course! As most South Asians parents would like of their children, my parents wanted me to go into finance, engineering, medicine, etc. It was difficult for my family to understand my vision in the sports business industry. I went against their will and decided to pursue my passion for sports. I took pride in learning as much about the industry at Rutgers University to put myself in the best situation in hopes of pivoting towards a role with any team.

What’s its like being right out of college working for a major baseball team?
Getting a call from the New York Yankees my junior year at Rutgers was one of the best moments of my life. I never thought the opportunity would present itself so early in my career.

What is the best part of your job?
Having the ability to work and learn from some of the top people in the business and network with influencers in the NYC area. I also get to be a part of the game, which allows me to see sports & athletes behind the scenes with a different lens.

What advice do you have for young aspiring students wanting to go in the same direction you did?
Be aware and learn as much as you can about what’s going on in the sports and business world. Learn about the corporate structure of different sports organizations to see what kind of positions are available that cater to your strengths and interests. Find out who has a job you’d like and reach out to them to set up a phone call or meeting.

Good luck Josh! We look forward to following your budding career.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports


The Future of Sports Event Recap

This past Thursday, March 16th 2017 SAinSports hosted our first event, The Future of Sports, and it was huge success! We enjoyed an insightful panel discussion from four members: Priya Desai, a digital correspondent for Sports Illustrated and one of America’s first Indian-American sports broadcasters, Hrishi Karthikeyan, the Senior Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs at the NBA, Ishveen Anand, co-founder and CEO of OpenSponsorship and Akash Jain, the Vice President of International and Commercial Development at the NFL. The panel was moderated by a very humorous, Rohan Nadkarni, staff writer for Sports Illustrated.

The discussion covered a variety of topics from what it’s like to be South Asian in the sports industry, diversity in sports, hurdles women are facing, career advice for student attendees, politics, digital consumption trends, working in South Asia and how the NBA and NFL are adapting to international markets. Attendees also had a chance to ask the panelists questions, network and mingle.

To see all the photos from the event, click here.

SAinSports will be hosting and participating in a few more events this year and we will be keeping you posted right here.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Global Sports Mentoring Program

What I witnessed on Sunday was truly inspirational. I had the honor of attending the Global Sports Mentoring Program, Class of 2016’s presentations. The goal of the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) “which is run by the U.S. Department of State and espnW and is administered by the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, is to empower women worldwide through sports. Each of the so-called emerging leaders, who have built some experience in the sports industry, is paired with an executive at a top U.S. organization. While they’re in the U.S., the participants and their mentors will shape action plans to take back to their home countries.” Every emerging leader goes through an intense four-week mentorship program.

Prior to the start of the program, each year, each emerging leader had identified a key need or challenge facing girls and women in their home country. The class of 2016 presented their action plan over the course of two days. I attended day one. From the first eight presentations, I can say with confidence, the most amazing thing to see was how unique each and every plan was. Not one plan had the same vision as another, each emerging leader talked about different initiatives to achieve their goals and each plan will make an ever lasting impact.

I began to talk to various individuals of the program including mentees, mentors, program developers and other GSMP advocates and the amount of energy and vibe I felt was incredible. Each and every person in the room wants to be able to change the world, one action at a time. Some of the emerging leaders have established organizations and others are starting fresh but, each leader walks away with more information and resources than ever before to grow or jump start their program. Not to mention the countless number of life long memories they make along the way.

Some of the emerging leaders from day one of the presentations…

“I can be a voice for women who don’t have one.” – Paola Kuri (Mexico)

“Sport gave me endless opportunities.” – Silvija Mitevska (Macedonia)

“Women’s voices are not heard in Pakistan.” – Rabia Qadir (Pakistan)

We all know that women and girls who participate in sports gain life skills that will allow them to transcend in leadership roles. Everyone deserves a chance and everyone has the right to participate in sport but not everyone has the opportunity. With their network broadened and having more resources available to them, through the GSMP these women will succeed and more will have that opportunity.

Learn more about the program here:
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Neha Contractor

Manager, Federal Reserve Board, Co-Founder of South Asians in Sports

7 Successful South Asians Working in Sports

We are back to highlight another set of successful South Asians making a name for themselves in the sports industry. This list boasts South Asian men and women thriving in sports leadership, creative production, advertising and journalism.

Check out these 7 South Asian professionals who work in sports.

Asha Thacker (@ashaiscool): Sports Partnerships at Facebook.
Asha is currently leading sports partner development for Facebook in India. Previous to Facebook, she led the partnership function for IMG Reliance Ltd, (a joint venture company formed by IMG and Reliance Industries Limited). Before working in sports, Asha had an extensive global career in consumer goods, fashion, and non-profits. Asha is certainly cool!

Atul Khosla (@atulkhosla) Chief Operating Officer for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.
Atul holds an undergraduate degree in an Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and worked in Healthcare for at General Electric for several years before completing his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. After graduate school, Atul secured his first role in the sports industry serving as Vice President of Business Development and Operations at Alli Sports (A Division of NBC Sports). Since 2011, Atul has served as the COO of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. In 2013, Atul was named Crains Chicago 40 Under 40.

Alykhan Ravjiani (@AlykhanKR): Reporter – Toronto Blue Jays, Canada.
Alykhan’s path in sports started in 2009 as a High School basketball coach and referee for the Mississauga Monarchs Basketball team. After getting his certificate in Sports Journalism at Centennial College, Alykhan became a sports writer/reporter for the Toronto Observer, Pan American Games and Tennis Canada. He also worked in media relations for the Toronto Raptors and the NHL before acquiring his current position as a Toronto Blue Jays MLB reporter. In addition to his work as a reporter, Alykhan launched the Sports From The 6 platform, a place where young professional journalists have the opportunity to hone their craft and create a portfolio.

Neeta Sreekanth (@NeetaSreekanth): NFL Social Media at ESPN.
Neeta started her career in sports as Ball Kid for the Dallas Mavericks and later interned at the LA Sparks and CBS Television. After completing her undergrad in management, Neeta honed in on a niche in sports. She focused on Digital and Social Media for sports and worked for the Dallas Cowboys before her current position at ESPN.

Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni): Writer for Sports Illustrated.
Rohan graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. While completing his undergrad, Rohan wrote for The New York Times as a Sports Blogger, The Miami Herald, Deadspin and Sports Illustrated before becoming a full time writer for in 2015.

Pooja Van Dyke (@Brooklynpbjs) Associate Director of CreativeWorks ESPN.
Pooja boasts more than 11 years of experience working in Sports; from studio and remote production, brand marketing to integrated marketing. She holds an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from Ohio State University. Fun fact, Pooja is an Emmy Nominated Associate Producer for ESPN!

Harshal Sisodia (@SuperHarsh) Global Digital Brand Director for Nike
Harshal is an award-winning digital producer and director with a distinguished career in advertising and marketing. He is a creative leader focused on discovering innovative and interactive experiences for the world’s leading sports and entertainment brands such as Burger King, Sprite and Nike. As the Global Digital Brand Director at Nike, Harshal has received more than 5 awards for his work Jordan The Last Shot campaign.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

Member Spotlight: Sheil Kapadia

SAinSports got in touch with ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia to get his views on the NFL, Colin Kaepernick and South Asians working in sports. Check out the interview below.

Current Location: Seattle, WA

Occupation and/or Organization: ESPN Seahawks Beat Reporter

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?
Sports were always just my primary interest growing up. Whether it was watching the Philadelphia teams, reading the newspaper, listening to sports-talk radio or playing with friends in my neighborhood, they were just a big part of my life. When I was finishing up high school and deciding what I wanted to do in college, I figured I might as well try to get paid for something I enjoy doing anyway. And that’s how I landed on a career in sports.

What is the best part of working in this industry?
It’s fun and unpredictable. That might sound lame, but it’s the truth. No two days are going to be the same. When you’re covering a game – whether it’s high school, college or professional – you have no idea what’s going to happen beforehand. You analyze matchups, interview players and coaches and make predictions. Then the game starts, and oftentimes it goes in a different direction. I love covering practices in May when the teams are planting the seeds for who they want to become in November and December. The games are always a blast. And there’s a huge difference among the players. Some are fighting for a job on the practice squad; others are highly-paid superstars. That makes for a fascinating dynamic.

I enjoy going to work and doing my job. By the second or third day of vacation, I’m usually ready to get back at it.

Advice for people trying to break into the sports industry?
Make sure you’re able to bring something different to the table. Every faction of the industry is getting more competitive each year. When you are trying to figure out your path, try to come up with new ideas. If it’s in journalism, when you start covering a team, look at what your competitors are doing and try to make sure you’re adding something different with your coverage. Find a way to produce quality content and set yourself apart. The same goes when applying for internships. Employers want to know how you can help them. What’s your area of expertise? Or are you able to do a bunch of things well?They’re not looking for someone they’ll have to babysit everyday. They want someone who can be an asset to what they’re trying to accomplish.

What has the reaction been with the Seattle Seahawks players as Colin Kaepernick continues to take a knee during the national anthem?
Kaepernick has a ton of support in the Seahawks’ locker room. Guys like wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Jeremy Lane and defensive end Michael Bennett have all applauded him for his efforts. Lane sat for the national anthem during the preseason, but once the regular season started, the Seahawks decided to link arms as a demonstration of unity. The Seahawks want to follow Kaepernick in terms of bringing attention to topics like social and racial injustice and shootings by police. But they also want to make sure they are following through and using their platform to help find solutions. Baldwin has set up a “Building Briges” task force and routinely meets with policy-makers and members of law enforcement.

You use to cover the Philadelphia Eagles before the Seahawks and having been to multiple NFL stadiums, how loud can it really get at CenturyLink Field?
Honestly, that’s tough to say since I sit in the press box. The Eagles’ fan base was in a much different place when I covered the team than where the Seahawks’ fan base is now. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and there’s a constant feeling there that something is about to go wrong. The Seahawks are in the golden era of their franchise, so fans have a much rosier outlook.

Some say the NBA is the most progressive sports leagues in the country, what are your thoughts on the NFL in this regard?
I have not covered the NBA (although I am a fan), so I can only go by what the players have told me. Guys like Richard Sherman have mentioned how the NBA encourages players to show their personalities. That’s obviously not the case in the NFL with the league clamping down on taunting and celebration penalties. In terms of analytics and social media, I’m not sure there’s much about the NFL that would be described as progressive. But I haven’t done a ton of research on this topic to have a detailed, well-informed opinion.
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports

6 Noteworthy South Asians in Sports

As a diaspora, South Asians working and playing in the sports industry are few and far between. SAinSports aims to change that by being a network and resource for professionals and recent college graduates looking to enter the sports industry. Let’s take a look at some very successful South Asian men and women breaking barriers and creating pathways in the fields of sports journalism, coaching and healthcare.

Here are 6 Noteworthy South Asians making a name for themselves in sports:

Arman Singh Walia (@ArmanWalia): Assistant Managing Editor at Bleacher Report.
Arman is a Gettysburgh College graduate and after spending time in accounting, marketing and sales he focused on Social Media. After being a Social Media Producer/Editor for the Huffington Post and CBS, Arman landed the role of Assistant Managing Editor of Social Moments at the Bleacher Report.

Shehan Jeyarajah (@ShehanJeyarajah): SEC writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s SEC Country (college football writer).
Shehan’s path in journalism was straightforward. After graduating from Baylor with a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Shehan worked as columnist and editor and major publications including Sports Illustrated Kids, Bleacher Report and ESPN.

Christy Thomaskutty (@CoachSkutty): Emory University’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach.
Thomaskutty played college basketball at Tulane University where she graduated magna cum laude (Bachelor of Science in Management) from Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business. She later earned her master’s degree (Masters of Business Administration) from Illinois State. Before becoming head coach, Christy spent the previous six seasons as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level, five at Illinois State University and one at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Neeru Jayanthi (NeeruJayanthi): Emory sports medicine and tennis medicine physician.
Before joining Emory Healthcare, Neeru spent 11 years as the Medical Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center.

Deepi Sidhu (@DeepSlant): Houston Texan’s Reporter.
Deepi completed her undergraduate degree in B.S. Electrical Engineering from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis and her M.B.A. University of Houston 2002. She spent 14 years as on-air talent for South Asian radio station GenerAsian Radio before moving over to CBS Radio and Sports Radio 610 as a writer and on-air talent. She is now the Integrated Media Manager for the Houston Texans including writing, broadcasting, social media.

Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania): Writer for TheVertical on Yahoo, covers the NBA.
Shams completed his undegraduate degree in Communications from Loyola University of Chicago. He became a sports writer for Chicago Tribune Media Group covering the Chicago Bulls then switched to healthcare before returning back to sports journalism. Sham’s exclusive focus on the NBA earned him the position of NBA Writer for
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Neha Uberoi

Cofounder and CEO, South Asians in Sports