A common practice among sport management programs, having practitioners as adjunct instructors are opportunities to provide particular expertise or more offerings than the current pool of professors and lecturers can provide on their own. This interview with Nikki Stewart from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Athletics provides insight into that experience as a practitioner-instructor.
What is your current role, both as a practitioner and as an adjunct?
Currently, I am the Assistant Athletics Director of Academic Services at ETSU, and Issues & Trends in Sport Management adjunct instructor for both the graduate and undergraduate ETSU Sport Management programs
What do you most enjoy about having both of those roles?
As an assistant AD of Academic Services, I enjoy having a direct line to kids, my previous role (as a professional academic counselor), I only saw my advisees twice a year, but in this role, I see kids all day long. I enjoy investing in those students on a daily basis. In my role as an adjunct, I enjoy being able to teach again. I taught sport management at my previous institution, and while I’m currently teaching only online, it has allowed me to get back to teaching. I love having conversations with students. I get to hear their perspective on what is going on in sport. Every four or five years, the ways students think about the issues changes. I enjoy listening and discussing those issues with each group of students.
How do you see being an adjunct intersecting with your role as a practitioner?
It allows me to give first-hand, real-time, fluid opinions on what’s going on, because I deal with it on a daily basis. The students respect that. It’s great also to speak to non-student-athletes as well. A lot of the issues in sport are happening in college athletics. Whether it is TV rights, getting people through the gate, the different ways inventory is created, the laws being created in California, to all the crises in sport. All of that affects me day to day. While they can read an article about what’s going on, I also can say, “this is what happened to my team yesterday, this is what I’m dealing with right now.” I think that brings a unique perspective to the students.
What efforts do you make to bring your knowledge in as a practitioner to the classroom, and vice versa?
Like I said before, bringing in that real-time knowledge helps inform a class such as issues & trends. There is that insider real-time understanding I have that can help students understand how these issues are affecting the sport industry, because I’m living in it. In terms of the classroom to my role as a practitioner, I have to say I get really excited about to talk about these issues. I am a big nerd, so the classroom is a fantastic way to engage with these issues. It’s an avenue I don’t get as a practitioner, to have the time and space to discuss these issues with an engaged audience. We can get very narrow-focused on the athletics side, but by being both a practitioner and an instructor, I can see both ends of the higher education and athletics perspective. And by doing that, I think it helps our ability to best serve our student-athletes.
What do you wish sport management programs knew better or more about in regard to the sport industry?
That programs would understand how fluid everything is, how much things change. Week by week, things can change substantially. How quickly you have to adapt. It’s hard to convey until you are in it. Any opportunities to have field experience, even in each class, some opportunity to experience how adaptable you have to be. Experiencing failure, and learning how to grow from it while in the field can really help students. Articles and books are great, they give a great foundation, but taking that knowledge and “getting your butt kicked” in the field is what will help in the long run.
The interview was conducted by Dr. Natalie L. Smith, Assistant Professor in the Sport & Recreation Management Program & Graduate Programs Coordinator at ETSU. You can find her on Twitter @NatalieLSmith. She is always looking for blog post ideas and writers for this blog.