Cornerstone Students Attend Michigan Sport Business Conference
by Jordan Grooters (B.A. ’17)
Accompanied by Jason Clayton, dean of Career and Life Calling, and Anne Gaertner, director of employer relations and internships, 13 traditional undergraduate students attended the Michigan Sport Business Conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Oct. 19. Professor Thad Abel, who currently teaches Introduction to Sports Management, helped organize the trip, giving Cornerstone University students the opportunity to apply by writing an essay expressing their interest in the conference and how they wished to grow and learn from it.
At the conference, students had the opportunity to network with current sport business leaders and industry executives. The conference included two keynote sessions, four breakout panels and one general session. Attendees heard from keynote speakers such as DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association; Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets and owner of New York Excelsior; Estee Portnoy, senior vice president of marketing for Live Nation and former business manager for Michael Jordan; and many more. The topics covered at the conference included the intersection of sports, business and culture; analytics of fan engagement; the legalization of sports betting; and how to manage your career in sport business.
For undergraduate students, the study of sports management offers an opportunity to combine a love for athletics with business acumen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018), "Employment of entertainment and sports occupations is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations."
CU student Noah Sall (B.S. ’20), a double major in sports management and business marketing, shared, "Personally, the MSBC was a great opportunity for me to hear from people who are very influential in the sports business community. I was introduced to the importance of culture in sports and was encouraged to give 100% in all things—whether work, school or any other area of life."
CU student Seth Walters (B.S. ’19), a double major in sports management and business marketing, added, "It was awesome to attend the Michigan Sports Business Conference this year. It was cool to hear from a variety of speakers from all areas of sports business, including marketing, branding, ticket sales, fan engagement, social media and several other aspects of the industry." Walters is currently working as a PR intern with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Senior business student Lindsey Johnson (B.S. ’19) also attended the conference. She reflected, "The sports business industry is a very competitive market and this conference really emphasized how important work experience is in order to make it. Networking is so important and, at this event, there were many opportunities to network with employers and students; it is an experience I am grateful for, and it really helped shape the way I look at my future career."
Gaertner was encouraged to see the students learn and grow through this experience. "It's clear student perspectives were positively changed after having attended the conference," she said. "Instead of wanting to work in sports, they now understand it's about working in the business of sport. It's a minor distinction but a significant one.
"Additionally, the chance to build relationships with peers and professionals working in the industry they think they want to pursue is invaluable. Engaging in professional development opportunities such as the Michigan Sport Business Conference is a significant part of a student's collegiate experience and what Cornerstone's LIFEPATH process seeks to provide."