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Navigating the business of sports with The Game Plan

Los Angeles native and author Henry Bell co-founded B2G Sports, which helped high school football players obtain college scholarships. Photo by Jeff Lewis

Sports

The business of sports starts at the youth level.  Henry Bell’s book helps young student-athletes navigate their way to college and beyond.

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By Blake Carter

For student-athletes who have plans to play at the college level, it’s not as simple as being great at their sport and then the colleges will find them.  There is a lot of maneuvering that takes place to become qualified for college and to get on a scout’s radar.  Now with Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) financial deals and the transfer portal, the game has become more complex.  

Los Angeles native Henry Bell, who grew up in Mid City near Venice Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, has been helping athletes make the right decisions since he co-founded the sports marketing company B2G Sports in 2000.  Through B2G Sports football camps, many of the participants earned college scholarships and some made it all the way to the NFL.  

Bell gave student-athletes and their parents a roadmap to college sports, which is a business, and now he has put all of that knowledge into a book, The Game Plan.  The book goes into his path from being a football player at Montclair Prep in Van Nuys to landing a scholarship at Purdue University.  

“The book is about a combination of my journey as a student-athlete who went through the ups and downs academically and about my challenges on the field, and it also spins into my time running B2G for 15 years and some of the successful athletes who came through the program,” Bell said.  “And also of those who fell short of their expectations.  I like to call it a business book, because it’s the business of sports.  It gives you the idea of just what it really takes to thrive on the next level and beyond.”

Some of the topics that the book discusses are academic standards, choosing the right university, the true meaning of a college scholarship, building your brand, and social media etiquette.  The book also discusses some of the roadblocks that many student-athletes do not see coming, which set Bell back during his athletic career.

Early in Bell’s high school career, he did not take academics seriously enough in the ninth and 10th grades, and that came back to haunt him, which is why he stresses to the athletes that he trains that they have to do well in school.

“That’s the foundation of the book,” he said.  “Because we can talk about how good you’re going to be as an athlete at UCLA, but if you can’t qualify to get into UCLA, then what’s the point?  I make an emphasis on the importance of the 9th and 10 grade years because those are the most pinnacle years of your academics.  Those are the years that students typically take for granted.  A lot of those kids who are going from the eighth grade to the ninth grade are still immature.  Especially the athletes.  Those kids who had a good support system will be more on top of their (academic) game, but many parents aren’t big academic buffs.  They’re workers, so academics aren’t high on their priority list.

“A lot of people don’t realize the importance of those first couple of years.  I didn’t know that.  I thought that I had gotten back on track.  I was doing good academically in my 11th and 12th grade years, then I saw my core GPA, and it’s not lining up with my SAT scores.  So now I have to go to junior college because my core GPA brought me down.”

Bell was unable to accept college scholarship offers, so he ended up playing junior college football at Los Angeles Valley College,  

“I got serious about my academics,” he said.  “I was taking 20 units because I wanted to get out.”

Bell had an opportunity to leave Valley College for Idaho State University, but he did not realize that he needed to come up with $5,000 tuition.  

“I have my bags packed and ready to head to the airport, and the world just crushed me,” he said.  “Another disappointment.  First it was my academics and SATs, and now I can’t go because I don’t have the tuition.”

The issue that Bell was having was that he was wandering his way through high school and college without a roadmap.  He kept working hard, and that eventually earned him a scholarship at Purdue university.  

After college Bell noticed that high school basketball had camps for elite athletes, unlike football.

“For basketball we had the ABCD basketball camps,” he said.  “We had the McDonald’s All American game.  We had all of these invitation only type camps for basketball.  For football, it was just camps for the masses.  Where like 300 to 500 kids would show up, and maybe 10 might be D1 guys.  To me, the organizers were making money and benefitting more than the attendees.  Especially the elite kids.  So that’s where the birth of the B2G Elite camps came from.  I created the first ever high school football invitation only camp.”

Bell speaking with high school football players during a B2G camp at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Photo by Jason Lewis
 

Bell gave the athletes that he worked with and their parents the information that they needed to greatly improve the athletes’ chances of landing a college scholarship, and that vital information is now in his book.  

“This book really goes into great detail about how to standout as student/athletes,” he said.  “Some of the keys to success that I’ve seen in good athletes who became great is how they approached the game.”

Bell is also a public speaker who meets with high schools, youth organizations, and corporations.  

“My topics touch on leadership, goal setting, how to go about your offseason, brand building, and NIL,” he said.  

For more information about Bell and his book, visit www.henryjbell.com