As professional sports leagues across America - the NBA, MLB, the NFL and the PGA - look to safely resume their seasons or begin team activities during this international pandemic, students in the Sport & Entertainment Business (SEB) program have turned their attention to them.
That’s in part because students from both campuses have gained invaluable experience at over a dozen major sporting events over the past five years, including several Super Bowls, an NBA All-Star Game, the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, and the Master’s Golf Tournament in April in Augusta, Georgia. “There’s certainly a void for sports fans during this pandemic with no live sports, and summer internships and the prospect of virtual internships continue to top our discussion charts,” said Executive Director of Career Engagement & Industry Relations Joey Lynne Bialkowski-Peterson, an associate professor in the Haab School of Business at Concordia University Ann Arbor. cuaa.edu/business
Undergraduates often put in 15-hour days working at these major sporting events, according to Bialkowski-Peterson, and the knowledge they come back to campus with is priceless.
Students have been spending class time via Zoom discussing, exploring and anticipating what Opening Day in Major League Baseball might look like this season, or the notion of “kick off” this September when the National Football League is scheduled to begin its 101st season of play. MLB’s initial plan of playing a reduced schedule of 80-100 games in Arizona and Florida at spring training ballparks and collegiate stadiums has evolved over the past few days to realigning the divisions and playing games at home ballparks beginning in June, albeit without fans.
“One of the challenges we face in the Sport and Entertainment Business major cuw.edu/sport-entertainment-business is explaining that being a sports fan is not the same as working in sports or leading a sports organization,” said Daniel Underberg, program chair and director of the department of sport & hospitality business program.
“This past weekend’s NFL Draft is evidence of this. Year after year, opinions are weighed in by fans on social media without considering knowledge of the different needs or variables that are discussed within organizations,” Underberg added. “Critical analysis, as well as clinical analysis – making a decision on fact, not emotion – is part of the growth process for many students.”
The three-day draft was televised by ABC and ESPN, and despite all 32 teams having to select the best collegiate talent remotely, it smashed viewership records.
SEB students were advised early on after classes went remote five weeks ago that internships, field experience and volunteer opportunities would be significantly impacted. “While many internships are on hold, we’ve consistently told our students to continue networking and expand their knowledge throughout the summer through podcasts, webinars and reading,” noted Underberg. He and his colleagues have stressed the importance of requesting informational interviews and being proactive, persistent and patient, since front office staff of the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers now have some time to talk with their seasons currently on hiatus.
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