We have all become used to life without fans in the seats (cardboard cutouts don’t count!) during live sports. The NHL and NBA led the charge with their bubble environments and the MLB and NFL are now moving along in their seasons. Hungry sports fans have been spoiled with the number of games. The sardined schedule of sports has been one of the few highlights for Genumark’s VP of Sports & Licensing, Murray Sobko, who lives and breathes professional sports from the first sip of coffee to when he hits the pillow at night. We had a social distanced chat with him to share in some of his storied career.
MURRAY, WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?
I try not to get my toes run over by our fast-paced Genumark Sports & Licensing team! I’m like a player/coach. I come dressed to play everyday with stick in hand but don’t always get ice-time. I do focus on our overall ‘game’ strategy and am blessed to work with such a great S&L team each day. I would say my main role is client and league networking.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NICKNAMES?
Sobs. On weekend evenings, friends call me “bartender” or “hey DJ!”
WHERE IS YOUR HOMETOWN?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH GENUMARK?
It just passed 9 years not too long ago.
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE THE PROMO INDUSTRY?
I was a partner in a firm that wholesaled sports licensed merchandise to Canadian retailers and pro teams.
COOLEST PROMOTION PRODUCT YOU HAVE SEEN AT GENUMARK?
Ooo that’s tough, name just one? Our Sports & Licensing Team works on so many great consumer-facing client promotions. It might be a mini jersey on a bottle of Bacardi or a handful of cool items our team produced that could be found in a case of beer. But, I am leaning towards a completely custom Toronto Blue Jays hoodie that we made with them. From top to bottom, fabric and all, it was all custom done. That was a lot of fun and turned out amazing!
DREAM JOB AS A KID?
Dream job – professional football player. That dream stayed alive through university football but quickly ended in pro-training camp which lasted for what seemed like a drink of Gatorade. My knees are happier for a career in promotional merchandise!
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF YOUR LIFE?
If You Don’t Shoot, You Don’t Score
IF YOU COULD LEARN ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Languages. A lot of them! I would love to travel the world and talk fluently with the locals.
DEAD OR ALIVE, DREAM DINNER GUEST?
Prince, but on the condition he actually talks! Otherwise, it’s just awkward. Talented artist, poor conversationalist. You’ve Got the Look is one of my all-time favourite songs.
WHAT CHORE DO YOU HATE DOING?
Yard work. Specifically, weeding. No thanks! Oh and you know what? Add painting to the list. A lot of both have been done since COVID started.
INTERESTS OUTSIDE GENUMARK?
All sports, my kids, cottage time on the lake.
FAVOURITE FOOD AND ADULT DRINK?
I eat everything. My favourite is finding a small restaurant with incredible food. It makes me want to chew slowwwww. That being said, a good bowl of pasta is to die for..
Fav drink? Easy….Tito’s, soda, and 2 limes!
THREE WORDS THAT DEFINE YOU?
Driven, social, good dad…..that’s 4 words I guess.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY FICTIONAL CHARACTER, WHO WOULD YOU BE?
Luke Skywalker. I would Jedi mind-trick all my friends to make me Tito’s soda 2 limes. HA!
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Balance. I didn’t have it early in my career. It’s much better now.
FAVOURITE SPORTS TEAM?
Home teams. I’m spoiled as I get to attend a lot of great sporting events through work but I always cheer home team or Team Canada. When that’s not possible….GO SEAHAWKS!
Heights… and running out of Tito’s.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Work hard. Commit to what you’re doing and be present in every aspect of your life. Geesh, I sound like my father!
I am a Star Wars junkie, so any of those. A New Hope is my childhood (I saw it in theatres!) but I really liked The Force Awakens.
WHAT IS THE BEST SPORTING EVENT?
Oh, so tough. It’s between two but I think the MLB All Star Event is just slightly better than the Superbowl. MLB just runs an amazing event and it is during summer. Love it.
HOW MUCH COFFEE DO YOU DRINK A DAY?
A lot. Americano’s baby!
WORDS OF ADVICE TO OTHERS?
Surround yourself with good people and good energy. Cut everything else loose.
YOUR BEST GOLF GAME?
I shot a 78 once! It was a Caddyshack-esque game. It was freezing cold out and a bunch of the guys even quit after 9 because they couldn’t feel their hands. But I could not miss! I was In. Tha. Zone.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS
A stadium tour guide at either Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Both also happen to be in fun cities.
MOST MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER WITH A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE?
I have SO MANY great memories of Grey Cups. I am currently on a string of 17 straight attendances dating back to 2003. There have been some player ‘social gatherings’ (pre-COVID) at late night bars that were A LOT of fun. Of course, what’s Grey Cup without sharing a story or two with Mike ‘PINBALL’ Clemmons. What a great ambassador for Canadian Football. I can’t wait for the CFL to come back next season!
PINEAPPLE ON PIZZA, YES OR NO
Absolutely not. No thank you. Give me a NYC pie and drop an egg on it.
THREE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR LIFE
Working with great people at a great company.
Birth of my kids.
Born and raised a small town boy (Fenelon Falls).
WORDS OF ADVICE TO OTHERS?
Find what you love to do and try to make a career out of it. With a great network of supportive people around you, work hard, play hard and try things outside your comfort zone – that’s where memories are built.