10 Career Lessons from ‘Sports Night’

Last week, HBO announced that they had picked up a new series from Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The show will be about the behind the scenes goings-on at a late night news show. Sorkin loves a good workplace drama, whether it’s an internet startup (The Social Network) or the White House (The West Wing). But his first show, Sports Night, also provided plenty of examples of great workplace banter – and important lessons about work. The show is a behind-the-scenes sitcom about a sports talk show hosted by Dan (Josh Charles) and Casey (Peter Krause).

  • Pay attention to the little people

In the episode where Casey gets praised for his sense of style on The View, a young wardrobe assistant chides him for taking credit even though it’s the head of her department who is responsible for picking out what Casey wears. To rectify the situation, he adds a special segment to the end of that night’s episode where he and Dan thank everyone who works on their shows, from cameramen to script people to – of course – the wardrobe department.

  • Even if you’re sleeping with your coworker, you still have to do your job

Office romance was a major presence on the show, probably because the characters seemed never to leave the office. The relationship between Jeremy and Natalie was cute, but it also provided lots of story fodder. In one episode, Natalie and Jeremy’s relationship spat bled over into the workplace, driving all their coworkers crazy. The takeaway: even if you work in an office where relationships are tolerated, don’t get TMI.

  • Make your case without yelling or naming names

Because of there are only so many minutes in every episode, the writers and producers of Sports Night have to make some tough choices about which stories to cover. When two producers are butting heads about whose segment will make it into the show, they manage to disagree with each other without yelling or name-calling. Most of the time, they’re able to make decisions based on what’s best for the show.

  • It’s okay to be a geek

In the world of Sports Night, being a nerd is an asset. The producers are often called upon to spit out facts and figures at the last minute, so there’s a high premium on being super knowledgeable. Sports Night is a place where geeks thrive – and where they win at office poker.

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    • Rebecca

      Thank you for this article! I love this show, and always turn to it for workplace inspiration. There are some standout, strong female leaders on this show, and, like most of Aaron Sorkin’s work, is very well-written.