After 27 seasons, more than 2,100 games and a childhood dream realized, Marc Zumoff retired in June as the television voice of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, just months later, the beloved announcer is trying to help train the next Marc Zumoff for his big break.
Next summer, the broadcaster will take a team of young, aspiring sports journalists to Israel for the quadrennial Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style, multisport competition for Jewish athletes the world over.
The program, called Maccabi Media, will focus on providing multimedia coverage of the Maccabi USA team. Students can get opportunities to call games, record interviews and write stories, among other tasks.
The Maccabi Media team plans on hosting livestreams of games, as well as posting content to the Maccabi USA website and YouTube.
According to Zumoff, 14 spots are open to Jewish applicants from across the United States. The goal is to build four coverage teams of three journalists each, with two alternates in case someone drops out.
Rising high school seniors, college students and postgraduates up to the age of 25 can apply at maccabiusa.com/maccabimedia/. Zumoff and his team are looking for young people with at least some media experience.
The deadline to apply is Jan. 1, and successful applicants will be notified later that month.
“If you’re a young, aspiring sports media professional and you participate in this, you will go back to school the following fall a much different person, not just a sports broadcaster,” Zumoff said. “You’ll get to say, ‘I participated in an Olympic-style event.’ How many young people can say that?”
Zumoff believes the program’s mission is two-fold: to help young people and to actually cover a major Jewish sporting event. He wants applicants to have media experience because this content will be real.
Every livestream, article and interview, on the website and YouTube, will adhere to the standards of professional media outlets.
“I’ve always wanted Maccabi USA to have some sort of coverage,” he said. “It’s been woefully lacking in years past.”
For the retired broadcaster, chairing Maccabi Media is “a legacy project,” as he called it — but not just in terms of helping the next generation and providing coverage of an important event.
The announcer said that seeing Israel is as important as the games.
Before the competition even starts, participants will join the athletes on Maccabi USA’s Israel Connect Program, a weeklong tour of the Jewish state’s landmarks and cultural touchpoints. The state of Israel is facilitating the tour, Zumoff said.
As a Jew, Zumoff feels it’s essential to educate the next generation on “Israel and its true meaning,” he said.
According to the broadcaster, American Jews must understand that Israel is the home of the Jewish people. He believes that if older Jews don’t imbue younger Jews with this understanding, then it’s going to be an issue for Israel down the road.
“This is an existential thing,” he said. “If I can only support Israel during my life, the question is, who will do so after?”
Zumoff got involved with Maccabi USA a decade ago when he started chairing one of its golf outings. As he started attending more events, he became friendly with Dan Kurtz, Maccabi USA’s senior director of strategic initiatives.
And it was from Kurtz that Zumoff got the idea for Maccabi Media.
In 2019, Kurtz embedded a student reporter with the USA team at the European Maccabi Games, which occur between each Maccabiah competition. The reporter, Logan Schiciano, from the West Chester, New York, area, wrote blogs and recorded short videos about the U.S. teams.
“He did great,” Kurtz said.
So after that, and earlier in 2021, Kurtz started writing grant proposals for building a larger student media program. Then the idea of broadcasting, not just covering, Maccabiah games came up in a conversation with Zumoff at an event.
After that, the two got on a call and Kurtz explained the embedded reporter program and his grants. Moments later, a student media program was born. And Zumoff said he wanted to chair it.
“The synergy was great,” Kurtz said.
Between Kurtz’s grant proposals and Zumoff’s fundraising efforts, the duo raised the $500,000 to cover Maccabi Media.
Eventually, they hope to make the program permanent.
“After I’m gone, there will be an opportunity in perpetuity to experience Israel, and to get the experience of a lifetime, which is covering an international sporting event,” Zumoff said.
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