Doug Glanville: Reflections and Aspirations for Season Two of ‘Class is in Session’
Doug Glanville is the host and co-producer of “Class is in Session,” a monthly show on Marquee Sports Network exploring the intersection between sports and society. Debuting in January of 2021, “Class is in Session” earned a Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Award last December in the category of Outstanding Achievement for a Sports Interview/Discussion. Season two premieres Thursday, January 27 at 7 p.m. CT. Below, Doug Glanville reflects on season one and looks ahead to the upcoming season of “Class is in Session.”
One year ago, an idea came to life. Class is in Session with Doug Glanville became a show that teaches. A show that educates and enlightens by giving us room to understand and re-think our perspectives on social issues and topics in sports. I am so proud of the show and what it has become. And, I am fortunate to see the culmination of my passions for baseball, journalism, and advocacy come to life on screen. For a few years now, I have been teaching a course that frames the intersection of sports and society. It is centered around sport being part of the solution to our social challenges. A way to forge understanding on complex subjects.
Even before the show was considered, I wrote and spoke about my life experiences and the universal lessons in them. These reflections and deliberations led to my presentation at the MLB Rookie Development Camp, not to mention a lot of discussions with everyone from MLB Commissioner Manfred to a variety of university officials to gauge where the content could best fit in our world of sports and society today.
After meetings, phone calls, emails, and travel throughout the country, my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania said, “This is a course,” and almost on the spot, gave me a slot at the Annenberg School of Communication. Over time, it morphed into a political science class, a communications class, an American Studies class, and African-American studies class. When I took the class to Yale, the course was cross-listed in three different departments. This only reinforced my belief that sports fit everywhere, in every discipline, and it is a great conversation starter!
The students in my classes became so important to the material I shared, not only from their honest feedback, but also because of what they added in the lectures and discussions. Without a doubt, when I thought about creating Class is in Session, the show, I thought about what my years of teaching taught me about the importance of understanding your audience. Students can often be some of our best teachers, and their voices are important.
Even with all of that experience, it took a shared vision from my teammates at Marquee Sports Network to make Class is in Session with Doug Glanville what it is today. They said yes, after I got a lot of nos along the way. They saw the potential and supported the show from the beginning. It was the start of a great collaboration.
For those of you who know me, I am a big Daryl Hall and John Oates fan, and John Oates and I developed a friendship over the years. When John went deep into his solo projects, independent of the lifelong success he enjoyed as part of a duo, he was not sure what he would find. Hall was seen as the lead singer, so John was unsure about the currency he had to bring people in a solo album. But, to his excitement, people jumped at the chance to work with him, and now after many solo productions, he has grasped the extent of the connections he slowly made in his industry.
I could relate to that pleasant realization with Class is in Session because when it came time to recruit guests for the show, everyone was not only willing but excited to be part of it. Our first show about barriers for minority coaches featured Herm Edwards and Dusty Baker. Herm was someone I saw all of the time at ESPN during the football season. He was always magnetic and passionate. Dusty Baker, my old manager in Chicago, once told me, “If I can help you be successful, I will do whatever you need.” I called on the two of them, and they embraced the premiere of Class is in Session with eagerness and purpose.
When it is so easy to get caught measuring your successes based on what is quantifiable, I felt the meaning and value of relationships through the support I received, and continue to receive, for this show. I always believed in what the show could bring to the conversation about sports, but I also know that this does not always translate to a successful product. Yet, when you can create a show that has such an authentic connection to its participants, I know that can take it to a place where magic can be found. And we found it. Season one has shown me the impact of shared vision and welcoming support.
So when I think about the many guests this season, I see friends, colleagues, people I have admired from afar, experts, and leaders. It was a joy to just talk with each of them. The cutting room floor has so much great stuff; it made it so hard to figure out what to even keep! Baker and Edwards went over an hour for what was 12 minutes of published content! And I was laughing a lot. So many great and meaningful exchanges.
As we look to season two of the show, I want to continue to improve in a role that is still new, but capitalizes on my skills from my years in media. I have worn a lot of hats, but neither host nor executive producer was ever one of them. But this feels right, since I enjoy simply talking to people about these topics. I am confident that teaching a course in front of students and providing a conduit for their thoughts, questions, and perspectives helped in developing my hosting skills.
The show topics challenge us. Whenever a conversation touches on social concerns, it can be tough, but if the spirit of the show is to inform, learn, listen, and be receptive to what can be revealed, it makes the exchange an opportunity for understanding and inspiration. I tell every guest, this is a place where you teach us something. We are not attacking anyone or trapping anyone with their words; we all just want better understanding. It is for everyone.
The excitement about the upcoming season continues with the many people who have expressed interest in appearing on the show to engage in a variety of topics. This season, we will make it happen! This season, the guests will take us around the world as we continue to explore the issues and concerns at the intersection of sports and society.
Of course, I would be remiss not to share the thrill of having won an Emmy for this show. The validation from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was such a cherry on top. It speaks to everyone who has worked on Class is in Session with Doug Glanville, through thick and thin. Any show is only as good as the team and the care that team puts into building it. I am so thankful for having teammates that are always willing to go the extra mile.
And, I am especially thankful for the viewers who have followed the show and our sponsor, UI Health, who dove right in to support this endeavor.
I hope you will continue to tune in, and this season, I look forward to more ways to engage with you in and out of our Class is in Session classroom. It is, after all, a class, and there should be homework!
See you in class!
Season two of “Class is in Session” premieres Thursday, January 27 at 7 p.m. CT. Past episodes can be watched on the Marquee Sports Network app and at WatchMarquee.com.