Eli Nachmany: Sports, Politics and Being “Good Enough”

Name: Eli Nachmany

Hometown: Closter, New Jersey

Major: Sports Management Major with a concentration on Sports Law

Year: 2018

Favorite Film: "As a sports management major, I would say that my favorite film in that regard is Moneyball, which is what really got me into sports."

Favorite Show: "House of Cards, without question. As someone who is very interested in the intersection between sports and politics—but at the same time understands just how much politics proliferate in our society—I just love anything that pulls the curtain back on what goes on in Washington."

Favorite Quote: "I would pull this one from this movie that I watched called Glengarry Glen Ross. It's a 1989 film and NYU graduate Alec Baldwin is in the movie for one scene. In the scene, he goes on this eight-minute, profanity-laced speech and the line that he continually goes back to is: "If you want to work here, close." That's something that I realized in my life. When times are tough and things are hard, when you're on the fourth chapter of this book you're trying to write and you hit a wall or it's late and you don't want to do the homework you have due the next day, you have to close. For me, that is working hard, getting the job done, finishing assignments and really putting in the work so that one day I can reap the benefits of it. "If you want to work here, close" is something that I think about every day." 

Fun Fact: "I guess a fun fact about me would be that I flew a plane once. It was amazing. I was up there and you look down and everything just looks so much smaller. We flew over football fields that when you're on the ground, seem like a massive complex, but when you're in the air, it's like nothing. I promised myself that one day I would go back and get a solo pilot's license. It’s one of those unfinished goals, one of those things that I have to close if I want to do it."

HC NYU: So you mentioned that you are very interested in sports. What sports do you play?

EN: I play rugby for NYU and I played high school football. As I talked about in my book, I was recruited by a number of schools to play football. It came down to coming here for academics or going to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for sports. I decided to come here, and really my favorite activity is that I get to play rugby. It was an interesting transition for me from playing football to rugby, but I'm having a blast. 

HC NYU: What sparked your interest in sports?

EN: I was a big football fan since probably 5th or 6th grade. I wanted to emulate some of my favorite players, one of those being Drew Bledsoe who played quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. I would stay up all night watching different footages and films and trying to see how did Drew Bledsoe grip a football—what was his exact throwing motion. When I was playing sports in high school, I realized all the different ways that this [sports] can be such a good change for society—how different things start at the NFL or the MLB and different community initiatives that they've took. At the NFL, they're taking a stand against domestic violence. They have an anti-bullying project right now at Sports and Society here at NYU. For me, I'm very involved with the NYU Roosevelt Institute and I wrote their inaugural blog post for this year in which I argue that sports teams and professional sports franchises can act as anchor organizations and communities. There is an amazing amount of community service that sports teams do—Steve Tisch recently donated 1.2 million dollars to NYC's youth and he's one of the owners of the [New York] Giants. Sports can really make an impact on society and change the culture of America.

HC NYU: How about politics? What was the start of your interest in politics?

EN: My senior year of high school, we had this thing called "Senior Service” which is during the May of your senior year; you can go do either a community service project or an internship. I chose to intern for a couple of state legislators from my own district—State Senator Gerald Cardinale and State Assemblyman Bob [Robert] Auth. Often I developed a nice relationship and I really got to see how the legislative process works. I got to see bills come up in committee, I got to sit in the caucus rooms and see how politics work on a state level. But really, I got to see the sweeping effect of how politics is really ubiquitous in society. When you start to understand how politics really intersect in all different places—from economy to education to sports—you start to understand that if you are more politically aware, you can be better for it in your own academic field of interest. So from there, I went and I became a team leader on U.S. Congressman Scott Garrett's campaign for re-election this fall, which he won. I was so happy to be on that team and really feel the sense of pride and victory in that I helped. I interned officially for him in his office during the winter through January. From there, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with Governor Chris Christie in his Office of Community and Constituent Relations. As I look toward the future, I’m working on the Closter Improvement Commission, which is a political committee dedicated to bringing residents closer together. To feel like I am a part of it—making an impact on the local level of something—it's an opportunity that I truly covet. 

HC NYU: I'm just curious—a criticism of the U.S. is that many people are not interested in politics and therefore do not vote. Why do you think that is and what are some suggestions you would give to help people become more aware?

EN: I believe politicians need to showcase how politics can be relevant to each individual. If you have a certain interest, there is some way that politics can pertain to you. Like I said, would you ever think that a sports management major could find a true secondary love in politics? You wouldn't, but when you look into how Pete Rozelle's Congress for the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 or American Needle vs. the NFL Lawsuit, you look at all these different ways of passing legislation, getting a decision into court—all of this can affect you so much. I'm taking a public speaking course this semester and we're taught that when you deliver a speech—if you really want to get your audience to listen—you have to make it relevant to them. I think that you can extrapolate that idea out onto a more global scale with politics. We as politicians should be concerned with how relevant our different political views and interests are to the mass populous. I think that every American should vote. I really, really do because I think that every American should have a say in his or her legislative process. When you start to see a larger voter turnout, that's when you start to see things getting passed that the majority of the American populous actually wants to get passed.

HC NYU: What are some of your other activities and interests besides politics and sports?

EN: I love writing and this was reflected since I was little. When I was sixteen, I was a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Now, I'm the Managing Editor of the NYU Economics Review. So that’s [writing] something that I feel strongly, passionately about. I like reading as well. Those kind of go hand and hand—that's why I'm so satisfied that I've found a financially stable career path in law that is so based on writing and reading. Aside from that, I love public speaking; I spoke at my high school graduation and that was an amazing feeling. I guess the last thing in interests and activities would just be a passion for community service. I was recently named the Coordinator of Service Projects for NYU Project OutReach and that was a program that I was a participant in since 2014. Having the opportunity to partner with some great charity initiatives that are on the rise in NYC and introduce certain service-minded individuals—like I once was—to what it means to serve in New York City is just something that I feel strongly and passionately about. I'm really excited for the program to get going.

HC NYU: What are some of your favorite books?

EN: I'm in the middle of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell which is about social epidemics and how certain products can "tip". Gladwell talks about how you need certain different things to fall into place for an object, an item, even a social epidemic to occur. It's something that's very interesting for me and as it relates to my academic field of Sports Management and it's a required book for a consumer behavior class that I'm taking. Another book that I recently read was one that my statistics teacher in high school recommended to me, The Black Swan by the Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It's a very dense, statistical, almost an argument of sorts about how events that have occurred throughout history and how events that changed the face of society today are events that we couldn't have really predicted. It’s a very interesting book to read; I was just getting into statistics and then this book sort of just rocked my world. 

HC NYU: On the topic of books, congratulations on publishing Good Enough! Tell me a little about your book and what inspired you to write it?

EN: Let's flash back to July; I want to say that it's July 1st—and that is so storybook that I'm starting on the first day—but I'm sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee. I was chosen as 1 of 150 individuals to speak at the Future Business Leaders of America Leadership Conference for the year 2014. The speech that I delivered at the conference was similar to the speech that I gave at my graduation, which was about redefining being "good enough" and that being good enough is not a product of what an admissions counselor says, but rather, what you say. Being a fit on a college campus is not whether an admissions counselor accepts you, but whether you feel like you belong. So I'm sitting there in my room, I had just given my speech to the panel of judges and I thought to myself, there is a story here. There's a story here that I can't convey in a four or five minute speech. So I started to write and I just kept writing and for me, honestly, I feel like this book wrote itself. I feel like this book wrote itself, it titled itself and now it's almost marketing itself because this is a story that resonates with people and so many people have gone through this. To date, there's no real story from the eyes of a high school senior about the college admissions process, about getting rejected from college. So I felt it relevant to write about that and now, I'm happy to see the book gaining traction. If I can change one person's outlook on the college process and make them see that they are good enough, regardless of what an admissions counselor—in a very paper-oriented, essay-driven evaluation of an individual—says, that would be fantastic.

HC NYU: If you could give NYU students one piece of advice, what would it be?

EN: Get involved. I'll tell you this—every list or email or newsletter, I subscribe to it and I read it and I read through everything. Be aware of everything going on around campus. Go to meetings, get out of your dorm because—as I alluded earlier in those "Black Swan" events—those things that you wouldn't even think could have happened, happens. I'm very interested in pursuing a Marshall or Rhodes scholarship and going and studying in the U.K. and pursuing a graduate degree there. In November, NYU had a Crafting the Personal Statement for Law School Workshop. Now, I'm just in my first year here at school and I have a good amount of time before I even have to think about writing a personal statement for my law school application, but I went anyway and who did I meet there? None other than Dr. Jenni Quilter, who is the Director of the NYU Office of National Scholarships. You'd never think that you’d go to a law school personal statement workshop and meet someone who does something that pertains to another interest of yours. I'm now in constant contact with Dr. Quilter; that relationship would not have become if I hadn't at least gone to that event. So, just getting out of my dorm, going to all these different things and being aware of everything happening on campus, my advice for NYU students: do everything you can—within reason—do everything you can. 

HC NYU: So—switching topics here—what is your ideal romantic date in NYC?

EN: So, I want to get dressed up and I want to get excited about looking my best, getting ready and having a girl who wants to do that as well. Maybe go to a really fancy restaurant for dinner and get dessert at someplace classy as well. I want to re-experience that giddy excitement of trying to impress a girl by putting on my best button-down shirt, standing in front of a mirror with three or four ties and trying to put them against my shirt, being like which one looks the best? So that is definitely something that appeals to me, something classy where the two of us can be seen together looking really nice, not just for the people who are out in town, but for each other and wanting to impress one another. I think that—in any relationship—that is very important.

HC NYU: What are some attractive qualities you look for when dating someone?

EN: Passion. When I say that, I mean I want a girl who really cares about something. Whether it's a cause about which she feels strongly, whether it's a craft at which nobody can beat her, that she really feels strongly and passionate about. Something that she does or something going on in her life that she can talk about, that she can do and that she can get lost in. I think that the most attractive thing for a girl is watching a girl really get caught up in and lost in something that she's doing, something that she cares and feels strongly about, whatever that is. I think it's just an amazing quality and an amazing thing to watch. I also love a girl who is really clever; I love word play. I guess I'm old-fashioned in that I don't mind love letters. In fact, I enjoy them. I took a creative writing class this January and I wrote so much poetry. So, definitely a girl whom I could share that poetry with or a girl who would—to take it a step further—write poetry about us. So it all boils down to that willingness to be passionate and lose yourself a little bit.