By Darby Clark
It’s hard to imagine what Vince Doria’s life would look like without sports.
Doria, the former senior vice president and director of news at ESPN, is a member of the Sports and Society Initiative’s advisory board. But before he started his extraordinary career, he was a student at Ohio State.
And he admitted what first drew him to become a Buckeye had a lot to do with the university’s athletics.
“What I knew about Ohio State was probably as much about the football teams and basketball teams than anything else, to be honest,” Doria said.
Having still not declared a major even into his junior year, Doria decided to take some journalism courses that spring to try them out, and soon landed a role as the summer sports editor of The Lantern, as well as an internship with the Columbus Citizen Journal. Doria said he had no idea what he was doing, but took the opportunities as they came.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it helps to be in the right place at the right time.”
That passion for sports continued throughout his life. After graduating, Doria became the sports editor at a small newspaper in Ashtabula, Ohio, before working for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Globe and finally, at ESPN.
“When I look back over those 40 years, I can’t imagine that anybody in sports journalism got more and better opportunities than I did,” Doria said.
Now retired and with 29 Emmy Awards to show for his years in the industry, Doria is giving back to his alma mater and to the world of sports he’s always dearly loved. Among his gifts are a $25,000 grant, meted out over the course of five years, to the Sports and Society Initiative, and various engagements as a board member.
Doria said the drastic changes the journalism and media industries have undergone has spurred him to want to have a part in encouraging and aiding the preservation of the traditional journalistic standards, such as thorough reporting and accuracy, that he said are under attack today.
“Problem is, it’s easy to have opinions—everybody has one, obviously—and now, everybody not only has an opinion, they have a platform to put that opinion on,” Doria said. “For some of the consumer public, it’s tough to discern between fact and opinion. That’s something that I think journalistic entities like SSI can help promote and be a watchdog in that area
Since Ohio State helped set the course of his future, Doria said he’s glad to contribute to hopefully helping other students also find their path and passion.
“If I don’t take a few courses in the spring and get a few opportunities with The Lantern and the Citizen Journal and Ashtabula and so forth—all of which goes back to being at Ohio State, frankly—then maybe I have a very different life,” Doria said.
And of course, it all comes down to sports, the communal nature and equalizing potential of which Doria says has always been attractive to him.
“Sports is really a meritocracy, maybe more than anything else,” Doria said. “It doesn’t matter about your race, your gender, where you come from, whether you’re wealthy or poor or whatever. If you can play and perform, you can reach the greatest heights.”