Student Corner: An international student experience

From London to London: My experience as an international student in Canada

Written by: Swarali Patil, MA Candidate, Western University

My journey as a graduate student is unlike my peers. I was born in India. I grew up near Mumbai (Bombay) before moving to New York. This was followed by a move to the United Kingdom for my undergraduate degree, and a year each in Malaysia and the Philippines. Presently I’m a second-year master’s student in Canada. Here are some of my tidbits as I navigate my journey in graduate school as an international student.

Choosing a School – Graduate school can be daunting, and with the incredible choices available, how can you choose the school that’s right for you? Research! I spent almost a year researching schools online, spoke to my lecturers at Coventry University, and contacted various schools before making my choice. It is a time consuming task but if you plan to spend two or more years taking on rigorous academic work, you should be well prepared to do it. The NASSM website is a great source of sport management programs available in North America. Identify the schools and programs that appeal to you, make a list of potential supervisors and read some of their work, contact the department for additional information about funding and other pertinent details before making your choice.

Choosing Classes – Your classes are meant to help you gain a deeper understanding of concepts you’ve previously learned, and introduce you to some new ones. Your classes can be a fantastic means to meet your fellow graduates, learn about interesting research happening in your department or faculty, participate in an exchange of ideas with your peers, and work on projects that can help you hone your presentation and writing skills. Classes are also a great medium to explore your interests that may lead to a potential thesis topic. Choose wisely but don’t overburden yourself.

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Professional Development – Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, whether it is volunteering, attending conferences, presenting at symposiums, or being a teaching or research assistant. I have volunteered at conferences on campus, presented at symposiums run by different faculties, participated in 2-minute and 5-minute presentation contests, and more. I have also been a teaching and research assistant, which has helped me add to my repertoire of skills and experiences for my CV.

Teaching and Learning – If your school has a Teaching and Learning Resource Centre, utilize their workshops to add to your knowledge base. Most programs will also provide a certificate of completion. Grab every opportunity you can to augment your CV. I’ve found several workshops to be incredibly helpful, particularly when I was a first-time TA. Several workshops provide video recordings of your presentations, which can be a great tool to showcase yourself to a potential employer.

Swarali at SCRINetwork – If you attend conferences or volunteer at social events on campus, take the time to meet faculty and students from different universities. This can lead to interesting contacts, friends in new cities, collaborations and other opportunities. Conferences are also a great way to discuss your research interests with experts in the field. Register early, utilize the student rate, and plan your schedule with ample time to socialize.

Appreciate and Have Fun – Take the time to appreciate where you are. Appreciate different perspectives, new experiences, new friends, new food, and new places. Graduate school provides unique opportunities, which can not only help you identify your future avenues but also provide a sense of accomplishment. Yes, time management is key, and work-life balance needs to be achieved but there is a feel-good factor in accomplishing what you have set out to do.

Graduate school is incredibly daunting and time consuming but it can also be very satisfying. As an international student, whether you plan to stay in your new city for a long while or move back home, you can enjoy the journey and the discovery. I have found my first year to be quite different from my expectations but I’m happier for it. I’m moving full steam ahead in year 2 but deciding if I want to sign up for 4 more!

Industry: Forging New Partnerships

NASSM and the Aspen Institute Announce Partnership

by Dr. Brianna Newland, Chair, NASSM Marketing & Communications Committee

The new NASSM strategic plan calls for NASSM to build alliances and partnerships with Aspen1jpegother organizations that share similar foci and goals. One of the first to have been completed is a partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. You may recall, that Tom Farrey, who heads that program, was the keynote speaker at our recent conference in Denver. As a journalist, Mr. Farrey’s contributions as an ESPN reporter have been thought-provoking and innovative. His book, Game On, numerous articles, and work at the Aspen Institute have explored sport and societal issues and have been used by universities and organizations alike to shape strategy around issues facing sport, especially youth sport. As such, Mr. Farrey founded the Aspen Institute’s Sport and Society program to assemble the industry’s top thought leaders to shape future policy around sport.

The mission of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program is to “convene leaders, foster dialogue, and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest, with a focus on the development of healthy children and communities.” An aim of the program is to provide a venue for thought leaders to explore strategies on a range of issues. One such issue is the state of youth sport. In 2013, the program launched Project Play, a multi-year and stage initiative to develop sport for all and inspire lifetime play for our community’s children. Several key leaders have participated in events and a series of roundtables led to the January 2015 publication entitled, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game 

On January 25, the Aspen Institute will kick off a new quarterly “Future of Sports Conversation Series.” The first in the series is the “Future of Football: Reimagining the Game’s Pipeline.” Speakers in this discussion include Chris Borland, former San Francisco 49er linebacker, and Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder of the CTE Center at Boston University, among others. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

NASSM and the Aspen Institute have agreed to find ways to work together and to promote each other’s work.  Both parties expect this relationship to be of substantial benefit not merely to NASSM, but also to the development of the sport industry. As Dr. Laurence Chalip, NASSM President recently noted, “Project Play has become the most significant policy initiative for sport development that the United States has seen in many years. It demonstrates the leadership that the Aspen Institute and its Sports & Society Program have taken in our field. The partnership we have formed will be good for NASSM, good for our members, and very good for sport.”

For debate: Is communication the key to student preparation?

The NASSM Blog would like to introduce the ‘debate blog.’ The following is a call for unity among sport industry and sport educators. We welcome your thoughts and comments! And, please, if you have an idea for a ‘debate post’, please contact us!

A Call for Unity: Sport Educators & the Sport Industry

By Carl Manteau, Senior Director of Group Sales, NBA Milwaukee Bucks

With response from Brian Mills, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

The most abundant positions with professional sports teams are in usually in sales. Sadly, the majority of sport management graduates hired into sales positions FAIL to make it through their first year.* They fail as the direct result of their own actions, however, several are almost predisposed to fail because their sport management programs didn’t adequately prepare them for a sales career.

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This is evident in the resumes that hiring managers like me receive, the interviews we conduct, and the actions of some of the sport management students we hire…and ultimately fire.

Recruiting sport management students can be challenging because many are not educated in the art of selling, nor are they provided many opportunities to experience selling or learn from people that sell sports for a living. This lack of a foundation leads students to apply for positions they aren’t suited or prepared for and teams to hire on perceived abilities instead of proven experience. In the end, these students fail to achieve their dream of a career in this incredible industry, the teams lose the time, money, and effort spent on recruiting and training, and the reputations of academic institutions are tarnished.

So how do we, educators and industry practitioners, come together to address this?

There are a multitude of ways but one of the best places to start is with better communication.

The more knowledgeable professors are on the ever-evolving roles and responsibilities in this industry, the better equipped they will be to prepare students for successful careers. First-hand knowledge is the best. To this point, there has been a pretty sizable effort in recent years of sales managers proactively seeking working-relationships with local educators…but we still have a long way to go. Our outreach will continue but we also encourage professors to contact us. It really can be as simple as picking up the phone or connecting on LinkedIn. Even sitting down for a cup of coffee can open up a new world of understanding and possibilities!

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A fantastic development has been teams and sport management professors/programs collaborating to host one-day sales events (the Mount Union Sport Sales Workshop is widely regarded as one of the best). Over the past few seasons, my team (the Bucks) has implemented a one-day Sales Academy, a Night Sales program, a more robust internship program, and a couple of the sales managers now serve on advisory councils with local universities. Programs like these expose students to the sales cultures of professional sports teams and the chance to network with industry executives. They also allow professors to observe the inner-workings of a professional front office. Finally, they provide teams with the opportunity to find the next generation of sales superstars and leadership development experience for aspiring sales managers.

Better communication doesn’t have to result in large projects or events. At the very least, honest discussions will greatly reduce some of the common misconceptions that continue to be shared with students (one of the most prevalent being, “Sales is a good way to get your foot in the door”).

Other simple collaborations can include sales projects being integrated into curriculums and inviting sales reps and managers to be guest speakers. It was a guest speaker in one of my classes that ultimately paved the way for my career. I’ve also been very humbled to have a few people say that one of my guest lectures had the same effect on them. These experiences would not have been possible without educators and practitioners having solid relationships.

My fellow sales managers and I have the utmost respect for educators and the awesome responsibility you have in shaping the futures of your students and the entire industry. Thank you for what you do and we look forward to working with you soon!

The opinions expressed in this article are my own and may not reflect those of any organizations mentioned. 

*I don’t have any industry data to support this statistic. The figure is taken directly from my 15+ years of experience in sales with two NBA teams, one NHL team, one WNBA team, one AHL team, one AFL team, and one NBA D-League (now the G-League) team. It’s also supported by some of my colleagues managing sales teams in the NFL, NHL, and NBA.

The following response was prepared by Brian Mills, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

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Let me start with 3 propositions.

Proposition 1: Sport Management (SM) programs – as with MBA programs – are not job-specific skills training mechanisms.

Proposition 2: SM programs have a responsibility to provide value to tuition-paying students, often related to expected future earnings potential.

Proposition 3: Industry has a responsibility to provide its workers with appropriate job-specific skills training to both support their employees’ career trajectory and increase their productivity in their current job.

None of these statements is specific to SM – indeed, higher education is dealing with this existential question as a whole – but applied fields are under particular scrutiny to meet these career-specific expectations. As academics, that can sometimes be a difficult proposition. We seek to ensure that our students are equipped with skills in critical and independent thinking, problem-solving acumen, the ability to find, synthesize, and communicate information, and to be intellectually flexible and work well with others. These skills allow them to learn other more specific training quickly and apply it in ways that contribute positively to the firm and society.

To exemplify where these skills are valuable, in consulting roles I have heard comments such as, “We know you have to be ethical in your profession, but we need your estimates to be higher,” and, “We’ll move forward with [that result we like], even though it’s probably spurious.” This is precisely what we want our students to avoid. In spite of the need for immediate action in a fast-paced business environment, a central part of our jobs as instructors is ensuring students know that making decisions with bad information can hurt your business. They should leave here as critical consumers of information.

By its nature, this foundational training is going to spend less time ensuring students know all the acronyms and jargon, proprietary sales operations processes, or be instant experts working specific sales software. Higher education will certainly not ingrain a “sell at all costs” culture in our students’ minds.

And so follows the indictment of our programs.

But is that the goal of higher education? If students leave our programs with the necessary skills to get an entry-level job, and no more, we have failed them miserably. Further, our student body ranges widely, and catering to this specific subset of our students would be an enormous disservice to the majority of them.

Academia certainly needs to think about the educational role it will play in society over the next 20 years. But criticism from industry often lacks an understanding of what faculty do on a daily basis, what universities expect them to do, or what challenges they face in getting students up to speed with many basic skills when they arrive on campus. There is also a need for accountability from industry with respect to training their own workforce, particularly as college graduates continue to be hired into short-term unpaid or extremely low paid positions that often skirt labor and minimum wage laws.

Further, industry sales professionals need to communicate to faculty not only that sales skills are needed, but what they are and why they will allow our students to meet future career development and advancement goals. Most faculty view education as a public good with a duty to prepare students to leave here with the skills to make positive societal contributions. Tie the profession to values it creates not just for your firm, but for others, too.

Without a quality sales pitch of the what and the why, faculty will likely continue to view sales as the art of convincing people to buy what they did not want in the first place: an activity rife with welfare loss and societal waste. We as faculty are of course quite familiar with the importance of revenue generation in the survival of a business. Many of us study how business structures and product characteristics drive revenue, and others study the psychology or economics of business in ways closely related to strategy and CRM through analysis of complex consumer data.

Most faculty in our programs are also social scientists, and therefore will be skeptical of the societal value of sales as traditionally viewed. I suspect this is not the version of sales you do, nor is it what you want our graduates to do. Rather, salespeople can indeed be a valuable resource in finding useful solutions to problems, and leading clients to these solutions using the tools available to them. Faculty have some work to do in communicating the value that some of our courses and programs provide to these goals. In particular, we need to be clear how these skills are more valuable in the face of technological innovation that changes what the most valuable specific skillsets are.

On the other hand, many departments are increasingly resource deprived. Industry professionals should understand the demands upon faculty that include research and other service, and be proactive in offering resources to create workshops and other opportunities on college campuses without treating them just as an easy way to find cheap labor. Industry would also be well served to increase investment in their own workforce, have some patience with very specific skill development, and find ways to take advantage of skills our students do gain while they are here. I suspect their ability to solve problems facing the sales team will surprise you as they grow comfortable with the basic tools of the trade.

Industry: Engaging with Leaders

Dr. Kihl discusses the reasons for hosting leaders from different Twin Cities sport organizations, which included learning about the challenges they encounter in this respective sport market, forecast opportunities, and explore potential research collaborations to address specific areas of concern.

The value of engaging in conversations with Twin Cities sport industry leaders

by Dr. Lisa Kihl, University of Minnesota

On November 8, the University of Minnesota’s Sport management program and the Athletics Department and the Minnesota Twins Baseball club co-hosted a panel discussion with Minneapolis & St Paul (Twin Cities) sport leaders. The panel was titled “Challenges and Future Landscape of the Twin Cities Sports Industry”. The panelists included Mark Coyle, University of Minnesota Director of Athletics, Bryan Donaldson, Senior Director of Community Relations for the Minnesota Twins, Dannon Hulskotter, Vice President of Marketing and Fan Engagement for the Minnesota Vikings, and Ryan Tanke, Chief Revenue Officer for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx.  The event was moderated by Dave Mona, a local sports media personality. Professor Brian Mills from the University of Florida gave a summary of key discussant’s themes and potential research opportunities.

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The main reason for hosting leaders from different Twin Cities sport organizations was to learn about the challenges they encounter in this respective sport market, forecast opportunities, and explore potential research collaborations to address specific areas of concern.

 

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Credit: Lisa Kihl, University of MN

A secondary aim was to enhance student awareness of the challenges facing the Twin Cities sport industry and participate in discussions that would better prepare them for the workforce.

 

 The impetus for bringing to together these sport leaders onto our campus was the result of two conversations. First, in the previous spring semester, Bryan Donaldson was serving as a guest speaker in my senior capstone sport management courses. He shared that in order to have a sustainable and successful career in the sport industry, leaders need to understand the challenges in this landscape and forecast opportunities for growth. Second, simultaneously in my doctoral seminar class, we were discussing how we could make our research relevant to the sport industry and fulfill the University’s mission of generating knowledge, by conducting high-quality research that benefited the Minnesota sport community. An aspect of relevancy is forecasting or engaging in prescience where we theorize or conduct research that helps predict the long turn nature of the sport industry. In particular, making conjectures of what the Twin Cities sport market would look like in 5 or 10 years. As a result of these classroom discussions, the need to engage in dialogue with Minnesota sport leaders to better understand what I would characterize as a unique and dynamic Twin Cities sport market was evident.

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Credit: Lisa Kihl, University of MN

Key Takeaways

Whilst the vibrant Twin Cities sport industry is exciting for fans and arguably good for area development, we learned from the panelists that it brings certain challenges for sport leaders. The panelist shared their different strategies to successfully navigate the perceived “saturated” Twin Cities sports market. First, in terms of globalization, some teams push beyond the Twin Cities area into global markets to increase market size and attract fans. Second, the panelists discussed how the local region has experienced new competitors (Major League Soccer and Women’s National Basketball Association) and the importance of understanding how this competition occurs, the available purchasing choices for fans, and what makes the Twin Cities unique in this respect.  Third, the use of analytics and how it is integrated into sales and increasing attendance was a key area for teams. Gaining access to data was identified as an opportunity for research synergies to assist teams on how to strategically use the fan and/or purchasing data they collect. Additionally, balancing the needs of Millennials, Generation Z, and long-term season ticket holders in gaining and maintaining fan loyalty was a challenge for organizations. Last, they discussed the importance of sport and what their organization does to be a good citizen of the local community. Determining the best way to integrate socially responsible initiatives into the community and evaluating their effectiveness was deemed important. Finally, each panelist agreed that given changing technology they were uncertain of what the sport market would like five years from now.

 

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Credit: University of MN Sport Management

Overall, it was an honor to partner with the University of Minnesota’s Department of athletics and the Minnesota Twins organizations. Engaging students and faculty in a conversation with Twin Cities sport leaders was the first step in creating an ongoing dialogue about how the academy can better serve the local sport industry. Individuals may watch the full panel discussion here.

 

Sport Issues: S4D

We look too close, then we overlook

By Laura Coughlin, Development Aid Intern, Sports Charity Mwanza

There is this overarching idea that the western world needs to go to Africa and help, but do we see what we want to see or do we see what is really in front of us? I fell into this mindset after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017, as I knew I wanted to avoid the corporate world a little longer and decided to travel to Tanzania to work for a sports charity. We worked to provide equipment and training to local teams and clubs. I quickly learned how Western influence is not this rainbow filled picture of volunteerism and help. We assume and judge and try to change what we see because it differs from the way we grew up, and then we overlook the issues we leave behind.

Kids in Tanzania play sport to keep off the streets. They play sport to avoid gang involvement. They play sport with the hope of becoming a professional and being able to provide for their family. They play sport with the hope of receiving an education, which they fail to receive at their local schools. In Eastern Africa, sport is a hope, a dream, and a means of survival.

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Kids in the United States play sport for fun and to be active. They play to get into college. They play to make money; to be rich and famous. Sport in the United States is a pastime, a business, and a way for school kids to make friends.

When westerners enter these rural parts of Africa, we look close and narrow in on the fact that this boy is playing football without any shoes on and a red flag goes off in our mind. We are used to having the latest pair of Nike cleats at our reach, therefore how can this kid properly play sport without similar shoes? Because of instinct, we search and donate shoes to that little boy and some of his friends. They enjoy and show them off and now everyone in the community wants the same nice shoes. Can you blame them? As volunteers, we do what we can but to give a whole community a pair of shoes is just too much. So we leave these few boys now possessing an unnecessary material item, and unknowingly have created a demand that we cannot fill. We look too close at the shoes, and then we overlook the larger picture.

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While the sports industry drives our economy in a positive way, maybe it is driving our values in a negative way. These kids in Tanzania had some of the most impressive football skills I have seen in a youth community, without shoes and without a properly lined field. We need to stop looking at these players as charity cases and begin to see them for what they are, talented youth with the potential to dominate a professional football league. There needs to be a push to get them exposure and the resources they need to have their skills seen, to give them the opportunities to change their lives through sport, the way athletes in the United States can. We cannot expect these opportunities to be identical. They must be relative to the location, such as a chance to escape violence in Tanzania versus the chance to go pro in the United States. These opportunities will vary, but they need to exist.

Don’t get me wrong, donating to a child in need is great and something to smile about. I just hope we can get to the point where we take another step into the investment of these poverty stricken kids. We need to help them take another step towards their future in their new shoes. I hope Western culture doesn’t lose the passion and dedication that is the true key to success in sport, and we do not just remain focused on the money or cool shoes. I hope to focus my future career in sport on community development and athletics that have a direct impact on individuals and their situations. Imagine how many kids from Eastern Africa could out play Ronaldo, but will never get the chance because we only give them shoes instead of a shot.

From the Classroom to the Super Bowl Experience: Placement with a Purpose

By Bennett Merriman
Co-Founder, Event Workforce Group

My name is Bennett Merriman and I am a Deakin University, Sport Management graduate (2008). As a Sport Management alumni, I am writing to share my experiences on what it has been like starting a business in the sports industry since a left my final lecture 9 years ago. Similar to many students graduating from a sports degree, I was always most interested in working with an elite team or becoming a player manager. Upon sitting through multiple job interviews and realising my industry experience was far short of what employers were looking for, myself and my business partner Shannan Gove, set up Event Workforce to help current students and graduates overcome that ‘experience deficit’ hurdle upon graduation. This issue of ‘job readiness’ among sports graduates is still prominent today.

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Event Workforce Group is ‘placement with a purpose.’ For over 6 years, our team at Event Workforce Group have provided casual event and sport industry opportunities to motivated sport management students around Australia. After attending the 2017 NASSM conference I am excited by the opportunity to replicate this model to students in the USA.

Since placing our fellow Sport Management students at EWG’s first event, the 2011 Melbourne Marathon, our student database has now grown to over 25,000 students working in a range of casual work experience opportunities weekly. We are proud that over 90 of these students have now followed our pathway into full time industry work.

As we have grown, the support we have been shown by academics within the field has been fantastic. We have been welcomed into lectures to speak and have been supported by lecturers preaching our message to student’s year around.

From the University perspective, Event Workforce Group is the perfect partner. Our approach means we can work closely with careers departments and faculties to offer work placements to students within the internship program and also outside of it. In Australia alone, we have contributed over 30,000 work experience hours to students, with 90% of these hours being paid. Our involvement does not stop there. On many occasions we have coordinated class groups to volunteer at events, complete post event assessment items and earn credit from the work they have completed.

As we continue to work closer with Sport Management faculties, we have realised a number of important factors.

  1. The current administrative time spent tracking student hours, paperwork and evidence of work experience is cumbersome and time consuming.
  2. Universities find it hard to seek out meaningful work placement opportunities for all students, particularly those with larger student cohorts or studying specific event management subjects.
  3. Theory based learning can only go so far in the current job climate, students who graduate with extensive work experience significantly better their employment prospects.

How can your students get involved?

Over the coming 6 months, Event Workforce Group are set to announce a range of exciting events in the USA including opportunities for students to work at the 2018 Super Bowl Experience in Minneapolis. We are currently reaching out to Sport Management programs nationwide who may have students interested in self-funding their travel to Minneapolis for these opportunities. All roles will be paid hourly and preference will be given to students who can complete a minimum three shifts. Positions will include customer service, activation/promotional staffing and game-day attendants within the stadium precinct. All require highly energetic, motivated individuals.

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While these opportunities are not 100% confirmed due to current negotiations, we are interested in building the network should the exciting opportunities come to fruition. Please email Bennett Merriman to begin the conversation.

Further information can be found at Event Workforce Group. We are very excited about building a relationship with Universities looking to broaden the work opportunities available to their students.

T&L: Negotiation

The Inclusion of Negotiation in Sports Management Courses

By George J. SiedelWilliamson Family Professor of Business Administration, University of Michigan

I teach negotiation at the Ross School of Business at the University of MichiganI have also taught negotiation in Ross programs for athletic directors, and have received UMRossrequests from sports management and other professors to use my materials in their courses. In response to these requests, I have developed a package that includes: (1) a Teaching Note, (2) two roles, and (3) slides for your use in class.  I am sharing these materials with NASSM members and other educators interested in negotiation here.

These materials are based on an exercise called “The House on Elm Street.” I used this exercise in the program for athletic directors, and it can be integrated into any sports management course or seminar.

The exercise involves a transaction that everyone can relate to—the sale of a house.  The twist in the exercise is that unknown to the seller, the buyer is a secret agent representing a large multinational company. Each student receives a short (two-page) role as either the buyer or seller and they negotiate for 30 minutes, followed by an instructor-led debriefing.

The exercise is designed to achieve several learning goals. For example, students will learn how to:

  1. understand the different types of negotiations;
  2. prepare for negotiations using a negotiation analysis that includes a reservation price, most likely outcome, stretch goal, and zone of the potential agreement;
  3. recognize and decide ethical issues;
  4. develop and use their negotiating power through the concept of BATNA; and
  5. create value in a manner that benefits both sides.

negotiationThe Teaching Note is divided into three sections.  Section I explains how to set up the negotiation exercise.  Section II provides a script for debriefing the exercise.  The script includes copies of slides that I use in class during my own debriefing of the exercise. Section III, the final section, discusses a document titled “Self-Assessment and Feedback for the Other Side” that students can use to evaluate their negotiation skills and develop a plan for skill improvement. This plan could be used as an assignment. The negotiation, debriefing, and assessments combine to provide a powerful learning experience. As one student commented:

What a great learning experience! [I had] the chance to test and evaluate myself outside the work environment. I find myself in business negotiations and discussions on a daily basis. Yet the ability to get feedback and actually debrief a negotiation is really powerful! I considered myself rather self-actualized, but some interesting things came to light in the class discussions. I know that if I make a concerted effort to work on [my areas for improvement] it will certainly serve me well in my career—both now and in the future.

Universities and publishers typically charge $3.00 or $4.00 per student for use of roles like the ones in the package I have provided. To encourage you to develop your students’ negotiation skills, I am permitting the use of these materials free of charge. I hope that instructors find them useful.  Please email me your feedback and suggestions for improvement. Thank you.

T&L: Casework

The McCormack Case Collection: Bringing Industry-Relevant Issues into the Classroom

By Will Norton, UMass Amherst

As many of us involved in sport management are aware, any practical knowledge that students can gain in the classroom will only better prepare them for their future careers in sport. While this knowledge is frequently obtained from experiential learning projects, it can also be acquired from case studies that encourage critical thinking and address ‘real world’ issues that sport entities have faced.

Sport management educators have utilized case studies as course assignments for years, valuing how they push students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a practical scenario. Oftentimes though, the case studies we use are dated. The problem with dated case studies, of course, is that students will be best prepared to enter the sport industry by understanding the nature of the way things work today. And in today’s fast-paced world, today seems to become yesterday even quicker.

With this in mind, the McCormack Center for Sport Research & Education (MCSRE) created McCormackCenter.com, a digital education resource housing sport management case studies and other collaborative learning opportunities from across the industry. The vision is for this collection to be sourced from a collective of academics with valuable networks and experiences within the industry; thus, the endeavor will serve to diversify the in-class experience of students and pull back the curtain on issues otherwise inaccessible to the future leaders of the sport management industry. The website launched on July 1st and was constructed with careful consideration of the evolving digital landscape impacting educators and consequently, students. The online hub will focus initially on providing relevant, timely, and professionally developed case studies spanning a variety of disciplines and available for educators and students.

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The McCormack Case Collection will span academic topic areas that mirror the curriculums of many of the leading sport management programs, in an effort to further develop management case offerings specific to the world of sport business. Each case study in the collection will come with a teaching note for instructors and tap into real-time industry trends, promoting case content that is structured from a ‘real world’ issue or challenge and retrofitted for the classroom.

In addition to providing educators and students with relevant and timely content to learn from, the case study collection also serves as a means to blur the boundary between academia and industry by leveraging what is happening in practice to educate students. Commenting on the collection, Dr. Janet Fink, Professor and Chair of the McCormack Department of Sport Management, stated, “Mark McCormack (founder of IMG) would undoubtedly embrace this collection of case studies, each one designed to place future managers of the sports industry in real-world scenarios and challenge them to apply common sense, strategic business insights, and critical thinking to arrive at smart recommendations and solutions.”

Recognizing the value in incorporating the wide-ranging knowledge and expertise of sport management educators and practitioners across the world, case development is not limited to McCormack faculty. Any and all professors, lecturers, adjuncts, or practitioners who wish to contribute a professionally researched and edited case study and teaching note are invited to do so. Case authors to date include faculty from the University of San Francisco, UMass Amherst, Rutgers University, and Griffith University (Australia). The reach of each individual writer will be shared in the spirit of learning from critical case analysis.

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The initial case launch, consisting of nine case studies, is available for Fall 2017 curriculum adoption. The cases cover a range of topics, including sport marketing, sponsorship, governance, law, economics, finance, ethics, and diversity. Events and organizations included in the initial case studies include the Olympic Games, Super Bowl 50, and FIFA. Author payment per case ranges depending on the length, rigor and assigned price point of the case. Any questions regarding potential case study submissions can be emailed to the Director of MCSRE, Will Norton at wnorton@isenberg.umass.edu.

T&L: Game Scripting

Teaching Game Scripting In Class

By: Rick Smith, Assistant Professor of Sports Management Marietta College

From my days in college athletics, I remember spending hours writing, planning, and mapping out a game script for every home football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, and soccer game. More and more, we are seeing college athletics trend towards a focus on the fan experience at the game instead of concentrating on wins and losses. Game scripting is an art, and it is made easier by software programs like TSE ScriptPro from TSE Services, LLC.

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Rick Smith works with his students in Marietta College’s ScriptU program.

Working with TSE, Marietta College was able to create a unique partnership, ScriptU, which is designed to help college students learn game scripting in relevant classes, such as sports facilities and event management, sports sales and promotions, and sports marketing. Over the course of five class periods, my class met in a computer lab to learn how to write PA scripts for sponsors and how to “time” the game so that videos, music, and PA reads didn’t run past a timeout. The students were able to use their creativity to plan what they thought was a good “game flow” and balance between PA reads, videos, and on-court fan promotions/games in order to make the fan experience worthwhile.

In terms of the specific software that the sports management program at Marietta College uses, the following provides a brief background on TSE ScriptPro and some of its features:

  • It is used by hundreds of sports teams and organizations across the country, including professional sports teams and events, minor league baseball organizations, and college athletics departments.
  • The software allows multiple people to view a game script live – and make updates live on everyone’s script – through a secure internet portal. This becomes useful when a fan is chosen from the stands for an on-field/on-court contest and one person can type their name and update the script so the PA announcer in a different part of the arena can see the update in real-time on their screen.
  • Users can create multiple viewing boxes on a screen so that the “game producer” can see everything at once (e.g., what the PA announcer is saying, what audio file is next to play during the upcoming fan contest, etc.), all while allowing the PA announcer to automatically scroll to the next part of the script after they are done reading the announcement.
Smith Sabatino TSE resized
Assistant Professor Rick Smith and a student discuss the TSE ScriptPro software.

When teaching my course, I heard the usual questions like, “Why do we have to learn this?” from some students. I quickly responded with, “It’s the same reason graphic design majors learn design software, or accounting majors learn spreadsheet software: if you are going to work in sports game production, you will use this software somewhere along the way.”  One student in particular, a senior majoring in marketing with a sports management minor, returned from a job shadowing experience at a Division I school a few weeks after asking why she had to learn the scripting software in my class. Upon her return from job shadowing, she told the class, “The school used ScriptPro.” It was a moral victory of sorts for me as a first-year (and at that time, a first-semester) instructor at Marietta College.

Smith, Huhn, Zaragoza TSE resizedThe main goal of teaching the software in class is to have students understand the software program to make them more qualified for entry level positions in sports marketing and sports event production right out of school. But like any assignment, there are measurable college-based assessment goals, too, such as critical thinking, communication, and integrative learning. Because of TSE’s vast array of clients, I also hope that our students can use their network of contacts in the industry to help secure internships (required for the major) while they are in school and jobs right after graduating.

Smith Wallace TSE resizedLooking forward to future semesters, I plan to teach different aspects of the script program in different semesters, such as writing PA reads and creating the game script in a first-year course called Sports Management, and then teaching the students how to manage a live game using the program in subsequent courses such as Sports Marketing or Sports Facilities and Event Management. Eventually, I hope to create a partnership with our athletics department to have students produce the game using the script program, and maybe a little longer-term, work with minor league baseball teams in the area to allow our students serve as their staff for a game or two to showcase their work in front of potential employers.

Industry: Branding

Branding Matters

By Jason W. Lee & Elizabeth A. Gregg, University of North Florida

Earlier this semester, the Journal of Contemporary Athletics (JCA) announced an upcoming special issue addressing School Athletic Branding and Visual Identity.”  The purpose of the special issue to provide a forum for the dissemination of insightful articles addressing the nuances associated with educational institution branding. Academic institutions, in both the higher education and secondary schools, offer thought-provoking points of discussion regarding effective brand management. This special issue is intended to provide a forum for the academic examination of higher education and high school institution brands, including visual identity and other related marketing components associated with school-sponsored athletics. Beyond the scope of intercollegiate sport, branding considerations impacting higher education institutions are prevalent.

Every school has a unique story, as do sport management programs. Visual identity is the visible part of the story that sport management academic programs tell. Some programs have catchy names or make use of eye-catching acronyms. For example, Miami University is home to SLAM (Sport Leadership and Management). Other programs may include the names of noted individuals (i.e., founders, benefactors, notable partners) or other defining characterizes associated with the institution or program. Most programs, however, have a basic naming structure that is comprised of discipline-specific names that simply encompass the academic programs represented within (i.e., Sport Management, Sport and Fitness Management, Sport and Recreation Management).

Places are Distinct… and so are Brands
Programs should focus on guiding principles such as institutional, departmental, and program goals and missions. Program brands are to build off of strengths that exist within the structure of existing university brand strengths. Programs should be mindful of who they are, where they are, the audience they are trying to reach, and the communities that they serve. Building on institutional resources is key. Factors such as a unique geographic location, access to desirable internship sites, and opportunities for experiential learning embedded in coursework should be considered as branding opportunities.

Your Reputation Precedes You
Programs must be mindful that their reputations are a product of identity and image elements that have been developed and presented historically. Sport management programs can benefit or be viewed negatively through associations with the institution at large, a given university’s administration (and other influential decision-makers affiliated with the institution), program faculty, students and alumni, partners from the sport community, and institutional elements such as a university’s athletic program. Prospective students and other stakeholders may make associations with academic programs tangentially through experiences and perceptions of characteristics such as an athletic department’s visibility and reputation. Program faculty and those in charge of programmatic branding efforts should be cognizant of the following core program visual identity elements.

Name. Various programs carry names that were established at a time when institutional goals and programmatic focus were different than they are at present. In order to have brand strength, it is critical for the program name to be included in that of the department in which it resides. While this can be a difficult issue that involves practical and political involvement, change, and potentially financial cost – schools should nonetheless be thoughtful of program and department name attributes while considering important characteristics such as distinctiveness, fit, and description.

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UNF Sport Management Program’s Department Name (on the College Homepage)

For examples, at the University of North Florida, the department was renamed Leadership, School Counseling, and Sport Management in 2009. Program leaders believed it was critical for brand and degree awareness to include the name of all programs housed in the department.

Logo. Does your program have a logo? Some programs have logos that do not convey the proper quality of institutional visual identity guidelines. If the logo is not congruent with the visual identity of the larger institution, university administration could object to such fig2implementation, as it can result in a lack of brand uniformity and therefore visibility of the program.

Tagline. Taglines are statements that can send a compelling message, and generally are in use for an extended period of time. In the case of an academic program, including taglines could be useful in reaching desired publics. Programs that currently utilize taglines may want to assess quality and see if it still fits the desired goals and intended purposes.

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UNF’s Institutional Tagline

Note: The submission deadline for the special issue JCA is Friday, May 12th. Inquiries and submissions are to be sent to the special issue’s guest editor, Dr. Jason Lee.