Written By Aaron Hook
This winter, Maccabi USA media mentor Matt Fine, 53, will be helping 10 students cover the Pan American Maccabi Games in Argentina.
He had the same role last summer, at the 21st Maccabiah in Israel.
Back then, Fine said the team formed a strong bond after only one month. “I don’t remember feeling as close to a group of people as I felt to them in such a short amount of time,” he said of the students.
Nevertheless, Fine is trying not to have the same expectations for Buenos Aires in December. “I’m doing my best not to compare,” he said. “We’re going to a totally different country, in a different hemisphere, during a different part of the year. We’re really trying to make this a separate, new, experience [but] we’re still gonna cover the heck out of the Games, have fun, and stay safe.”
Fine grew up just outside of Philadelphia. His father, Allen, played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization, pitching briefly for the club’s Level B affiliate. But Matt played soccer and ran track instead at Lower Merion High School before attending Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated with a degree in economics and hadn’t really considered a career in sports media or broadcasting until late in college.
Fine had struggled with dyslexia and writing in high school, but eventually turned writing into a passion. His first job out of college was at a newspaper in a small rural town in Wyoming. Later, at Columbia journalism school in New York, he switched his focus from print to broadcast. “This was 1993,” he explained. “We didn’t have the internet; You really only had two options.”
So, he got an internship working at NY1 in New York. “They put a camera in my hand, and that was the coolest thing ever,” he said. From there, he spent 12 years as an anchor and a reporter, covering both news and sports around the country. In 1999, he earned an Edward R. Murrow award for outstanding news reporting, for a feature about a 1969 high school basketball game held in Maine.
Fine eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area and currently works as an associate professor at Temple University, in the Klein College of Media & Communication, where he has been teaching for 18 years.
“I got really lucky,” Fine said with a smile. “I have the best students in the world. They work hard, they’re fun, they’re passionate. Every year, I get older and, every year, they’re still 21.”
He is almost always in teacher mode, too. During this interview, Fine stopped me after a few minutes and said I was asking too many questions at once. He advised me to slow down, ask one question at a time, and I would get better answers in return. He was right. It seems the rare occasion that he isn’t teaching is when he pivots into Dad mode.
Fine and his wife, Heather, have two sons: Adam, 22, and Evan, 20. Adam played four years of baseball at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and is now seeking his Master’s degree in Sports Psychology and Exercise Science at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Evan is a student at Temple’s Boyer School of Music and Dance.
“My younger son has no interest in sports,” Fine laughed. “He plays a great guitar. He’s in two different bands and he’s just, like, awesome. I love listening to him play.”
Fine clearly enjoys his children, and the same can be said for his Maccabi USA Media students. The Israel group truly became family to him. Maybe the group going to Argentina will become kinfolk as well.
Aaron Hook is a senior at Rowan University studying sports communication and media. He’s done play-by-play for Rowan athletics and professional organizations including the G-League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Delaware Blue Coats. He also contributes to the sports section of the school’s newspaper, The Whit. Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronhook_ and at www.maccabiusa.com.