Personal Profile: Justin Cleveland

Name: Justin Cleveland
Nickname: JC
Job title(s): Association Manager
Full-time in fantasy? Yes
Age: 28
Education: master’s in Communication Arts and Sciences from Penn State
Family status: Single
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Football (Draft-style)
Favorite sport to watch: Football (Pro first, college second, XFL a distant third)
Favorite team (any sport): Green Bay Packers
All-time favorite athlete: Jim Brown
Years playing fantasy: 11

I got my start in the fantasy industry when: I attended the August, 2007 FSTA Conference in Las Vegas.

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes: Finishing dead last in the FSTA Fantasy Football Experts League.

Three questions

1. How did your role with the FSTA come about?
When I was finishing up grad school, I was looking for jobs and came across the FSTA when they were looking for their first association manager. Being a big fantasy sports fan, I decided to check it out and sent in my résumé. I talked with Jeff Thomas, George del Prado and the board about the position and then flew out to the FSTA Conference in Las Vegas in 2007 and met with everyone.

When I tell people that the FSTA conference is a great place to network and get deals done, I speak from experience. I went out to meet everyone and found the industry professionals engaging and open, willing to speak about the industry and their vision for it going forward.

2. Anyone who has attended an FSTA conference in the past couple of years has heard your bad jokes between sessions and seen you hustle around with the microphone for questions. Can you describe what else you do as FSTA manager?
You lead with bad jokes? I work for months on those jokes. I may have to reevaluate my strategy. My essential job is twofold: working to expand the FSTA membership-assisting in acquisition and retention-and helping to organize the conferences. As to the first, I work with membership concerns including how to find and qualify a programmer, how to obtain merchant services (a surprising challenge even with clear case law on the industry’s side differentiating it from gambling) and locating particular bits of research. That is just skimming the surface but gives you a general idea of what I do on a daily basis.

As far as the conferences go, I’m involved in every aspect of putting the show together, from site selection (though Brett Baker at Fantasy Coverage has been instrumental in the Chicago shows since he’s local) down to stuffing name badges (extra special thanks to Danielle MacLean for volunteering her nametag-stuffing prowess in Chicago). The conferences are, essentially, my baby and most of the work has been done by the time the show runs around, I just have to make sure they run smoothly. And that involves the aforementioned microphone hustling.

I work with all of the different committees as they require (writing and distributing press releases, talking to reporters about the industry, adding content to the website, helping organize the awards categories and voting, etc). I’m a Jack of all trades, so to speak, when it comes to the FSTA. I essentially have to keep abreast of everything that is happening in the industry and what might potentially be of interest to our members and keep them in the loop.

3. How has your role changed during your stint with the association? How has that been impacted by changes to the industry itself?
My job really hasn’t changed from day one-the mandate was to help the association grow and develop the conferences, along with taking care of the day-to-day operations of the association (helping with the research, PR, awards, etc). That’s what I do.

When people ask what I do for a living, I have to lead with “I work for a non-profit association doing research, conference planning, and PR.” If I lead with “I work for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association” I get blank stares or the dreaded “You play fantasy football for a living?”

The one aspect that has developed more in the past year is the amount of knowledge I need to have on legal rulings and potential legislative impacts. Of course Glenn Colton has been a fantastic resource to help set me on the right path, but I have spent a good amount of time reading legal briefs from related cases and studying up on case law to be able to hold an informed opinion.

The summary is: The job is the same, if the minutia has changed how I go about it.


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