He Has the Job Sports Fans Would Love to Have

Post a Comment » Written on December 17th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

PROVIDENCE, RI (December 17, 2009) – A multitude of people would love to have Ken Bell’s job.

As sports director of ABC6-TV (WPVI-TV), he routinely covers events that most fans only dream of attending. He was present when the Boston Red Sox captured their World Series titles. He watched Tom Brady and the Patriots win three Super Bowls and reported on the Boston Celtics’ successful pursuit of an NBA Championship. Then there is the chance to interview some of the most famous athletes in the world.

Bell certainly is grateful for those opportunities, but there is another reason he feels privileged to have his position.

Bell“I’ve appreciated this job because it has been a wonderful platform to go into schools and civic groups to use whatever influence I have, not only to promote good sportsmanship, but to promote character,” says Bell, one of the founding members of Christ Covenant Church in Greenwich, Rhode Island, and the chair of its Deacon Board.

He recently received the Silver Circle Award, given to elite New England journalists by the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, for their contributions to the craft. He concluded his acceptance speech by quoting Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

The Tiger Woods soap opera has provided the latest illustration of what can happen when the priorities are reversed. Bell says, “People say this just shows that Tiger is human, but this is a character issue. This goes to the heart of a person – what does your name mean?

“Tiger was a media machine,” he adds. “That’s why this is so astounding. We were sold one image, and we learned that the image reflects very little of who the person is. I think that if something positive comes of this, it will put athletes on notice that character counts.”

He adds, “There are others who step up to the plate,” and he cites people like former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and former Colts Coach Tony Dungy, who “has put a whole new focus on the idea that it’s okay to be a Christian in football.” He notes that the strength coach for the Patriots is also the team chaplain.

Bell believes athletes are role models, explaining that people who put themselves in the public eye automatically assume that responsibility, including himself.

Bell grew up attending church a lot. His father was a Seventh Day Adventist and his mother a Methodist. “So I got a double dose,” he says, laughing, which he also does frequently. (A news segment highlighting his career reflects his vibrant sense of humor.)

” . . . I was a nervous wreck to stand up in front of people. I never raised my hand in school.”

Bell probably never would have entered journalism had it not been for a required high school class, he says. “Up until eighth grade, I was a nervous wreck to stand up in front of people. I never raised my hand in school.”

But the school district required that he take a speech class, and the day came when he had to give his first speech. “I thought, ‘Oh no, this is it. I’m going to die in front of all my friends. I remember it like it was yesterday.’ ”

He didn’t die, of course, but he did return to his seat with a new attitude about his life. “About a minute later, I thought, ‘you dummy.’ First of all, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I also began to think about what other ways am I letting fear interrupt my life. How is fear preventing me from living my life to its fullness?”

A physical ailment prevented him from playing sports, but he began working as a trainer for the high school teams and doing radio broadcasts of their games. His TV career kicked off during his senior year at Colorado University in 1973 when he landed a weekend reporting job at a Denver station. He has since worked at other stations, but has been at his current position for 25 years.

“Whenever I moved to new city, one of the first things I did was find a church,” Bell says. “They care about you, about more than just your job.”

“More people are trying to fill the emptiness in their lives with sports.”

Bell has served as a youth leader in multiple churches. He was attending a Bible study in Providence that eventually grew and affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Bell has participated in eight mission trips with the church, which he says helps him keep perspective on what is important. “When you go on a mission trip, you understand what God is doing in the world, and you get a better understanding on the needs of the world. I come home with a greater responsibility to use my God-given resources in my own life, in my own backyard, and the world.

“We’ve taken sports out of the realm of entertainment, and we’ve tried to make it something much deeper,” Bell says. Sports have even taken on a religious dimension.

“More people are trying to fill the emptiness in their lives with sports,” Bell says. “One of the problems we have in America is we’re living for the next high at the sporting events.”

He laughs, and adds, “This is coming from a guy who makes his living in sports.”

Still, he loves talking athletics. “It’s a great conversation starter,” Bell says. “Wherever I go and whoever I meet, sports is a common language. Everybody has an opinion.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog