By Noah Gugliotta
Ari Bluestein played and watched baseball, basketball and football growing up. From a young age, he was interested in the intricacies of sports and later turned that passion into a business.
“I was looking up sports scores; that’s how I started reading. I was reading sports scores and sports stories,” Bluestein said.
Bluestein was a finance and entrepreneurial studies major at Rider University. He liked the idea of starting a business and was also interested in communications. He was one of the only business majors involved at The Rider News and 107.7 The Bronc radio station.
“When I was at Rider I started my own business called SportsFanbase.com which was a social media sports website. I kind of used that as my grad school project,” Bluestein continued, “I’m using my love for sports along with my knowledge of how to start a business, and it was a lot of fun.”
Bluestein connected with a sports company called Sports Journey all while working on The Sports Fan Base Network (SFBN). He appeared as a college basketball analyst on Sports Journey’s ESPN Radio in Maryland and Florida.
Bluestein eventually contacted Dan Baker, the Phillies public address announcer and coordinator of broadcast relations at Drexel University. Bluestein was connected to Drexel University’s program from a young age, and in 2009, Baker reached out to Bluestein to do play-by-play for Drexel University’s women’s basketball at the University of Richmond.
“I practiced play-by-play for a week—watched Drexel games. When it was time for the gig, I killed it. Everybody loved it,” Bluestein said. “I kind of used whatever on-air experience I had to get in the door, and then I got the play-by-play opportunity, and I’m still doing Drexel women’s basketball. My path into sportscasting was a little different than probably most people.”
In 2012, Bluestein and his high school friend Joshua Bellman moved from California when they rekindled their friendship. Bellman worked at a production company called Benderspink, a film production company that produced movies such as “The Hangover” and “Wedding Crashers.”
Bellman proposed ESPN for high school sports, which led Bluestein to think of broadcasting high school sports. This led to the idea of SFBN.
“We got in with the Philly public league with the school district, and we got in with [the] Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the Catholic league, which is great athletics,” said Bluestein.
Bellman became a producer for SFBN and discussed his role within the company.
“I’m more of the technical end of it. I’m more focused on the computers and cameras,” Bellman said.
In October of 2017 SFBN live-streamed a game, and Keith Maguire of Malvern Preparatory School made a one-handed touchdown catch that was streamed and featured on Sportscenter’s Top Ten as the number two play.
Malvern Prep eventually asked SFBN and Bluestein if they could stream all of their games. This opened up SFBN to streaming games for more schools.
SFBN steadily grew and then the pandemic came and the entire spring schedule was canceled. The company live-streamed high school graduations in the summer, and this led to six school districts wanting to use their services for games.
Bluestein responded adamantly to the demand for SFBN to live stream games for these schools, “We’re going for it.”
Once it was okay to play, The SFBN live-streamed for fans that couldn’t be in-person at sporting events.
Bellman said, “We were able to sit up in the stands by ourselves away from everybody, and we could provide the game for other people.” Overall, the pandemic has thrown obstacles at all businesses. The company adapted and has had a strong showing during this trying time.
Bluestein is not only busy with SFBN; he also teaches sports entrepreneurship at Rider. His passions for business, communications and sports have come together. The results are proven based on the impact on his students.
Bluestein’s lasting impact has transcended the sports world. Rider and the many high schools that utilize SFBN’s services have benefitted from Bluestein.
Bluestein said, “I’m fully connected with Rider. I teach the class, I do the games and I loved my time at Rider as a student. I stayed a fifth year to get my grad degree done, and it’s coming full circle.”