The University of Michigan’s Sporting Event Bid Competition: A student’s perspective
By: Kerri Bodin, MA Candidate, Western University
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to be involved in the University of Michigan’s inaugural Sporting Event Bid Competition (SEBC). The competition solicited submissions from University teams of four students – two graduate, and two
undergraduate – under the supervision of one faculty member. Once registered, the teams were to put together a sporting event bid for a large-scale, hypothetical sporting event, called the ‘Global Games’. The Global Games we were “bidding” for were to be held in the year 2028 and were similar in size and scope to an Olympic Games. Each team could choose their host city and sport programme, but were given parameters such as the number of countries competing, the duration of the event, and spectator attendance. The rest was up to us! We were to present a plan for sports and venues, accommodation, Games operations, and a budget, as well as additional details. Two months after the registration deadline, teams were required to submit a document with a maximum of 5000 words and 50 tables and figures for the judges to evaluate. Three teams were then chosen to present their bid in front of the judges’ panel. From there, one team would win the competition.
Shortly after registering for the competition, our team chose Toronto, Canada as our host city for the Global Games. Toronto 2028 was born, and so began a three-month whirlwind of preparing the initial bid document. Upon being notified in May that we were one of the final three teams, our summer was spent preparing for a 30-minute presentation and 30-minute question period to be held at the University of Michigan in early September. The competition called on student teams to come up with innovative and creative solutions to the current challenges surrounding sporting events of this size. Coincidentally, all three finalists had similar ideas in their bids, though varied in the areas on which they focused, and the level of detail. More specifically, each team had made use of existing venues in their chosen host city and attempted to minimize the overall burden of the Games by reducing the use of public funding.
Participating on the Western University SEBC team was challenging at times, but overall a very rewarding experience. We were able to use our resources effectively and tapped into the expertise of several faculty members from Western and other Ontario universities in putting together our submission. We were also fortunate to have access to the International Centre for Olympic Studies and were able to refer to past Games bids and supporting documents. Our bid highlighted an integrated (parasport and able-bodied sport) event and included a legacy committee embedded within our organizational structure. In the end, our team was successful in bringing home first place!
When I reflect on the experience, a few takeaways come to mind. From the start of this project, I felt a sort of internal struggle between my love of sport and my academic understanding of the impact events like the Olympics can have on society. Through my interactions with the judges, I was reminded that industry professionals are open to new ideas and alternative ways of delivering sport, including mega sport events. They were all incredibly receptive to our creativity, which led me to my second takeaway; you can learn from anyone and everyone. Working on a team with two undergraduate students, as well as being in an environment with judges that were willing to learn from us,
demonstrated to me that no matter how many years of work experience, what age, what background, or what perspective we may have, there is ALWAYS more to learn. Lastly, SEBC reminded me the importance of a team, and how an effective team supports one another for the good of the group. In graduate school, it can be easy to get stuck in your bubble and focus solely on your own thesis or dissertation project. Being a part of SEBC reminded me just how important it is to be able to work in a team and the value that different perspectives can bring to a project.
Overall, being involved in a competition such as this was a great learning and networking opportunity, and will be an experience I’ll remember and draw upon far into my career.