SBJ/March 24-30, 2014/Opinion

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  • Backing Sutton’s take on marketing programs

    The following letters are a sample of the response to Bill Sutton’s most recent column, “Generalizations are offensive to marketing programs, students” (SportsBusiness Journal, March 10-16).

    Just a quick note to say, “Well done” with your recent editorial in the SBJ/SBD in response to Mark Cuban’s comments. I couldn’t agree more with you and your thoughts and hope I can become part of the solution with you. I earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in sports management from the University of Memphis. Dr. Irwin and staff shared many of the same values you discussed and passed them on to us. Selling is what we do, every day. Whether it’s selling season tickets, corporate sponsorships, private donations, recruits to our campus, or new coaches and staff, we must be able to articulate our vision and goals in order to gain that necessary interaction, which will hopefully lead to a strong affinity toward our team/programs. Again, thanks for your leadership and guidance for all of us in the sports industry. I wish you the best of luck and hope to cross paths soon.

    Ryan Ivey
    Commerce, Texas
    Ivey is athletic director at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

    ■ ■ ■

    I saw your article in the SBD and I thought it was the perfect tone based on Mr. Cuban’s blanket statement. As I know is the case with so many of your graduates, my graduate school experience taught me much as I made my way into the industry. Keep up the good fight, and please let me know if I can ever do anything to help you or your students.
    Mike McAllister
    Chicago
    McAllister is senior account manager at Scarborough.

    ■ ■ ■

    Loved the piece in SBJ this morning. Spot on. When the time is right, I would love to set up some time to make a visit to Tampa to see the program in motion.
    Mike Behan
    New York City
    Behan is vice president of sales at Legends.

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    One word — awesome. Well done. Your article on sales training/understanding as essential was spot on. I had an image of you standing in front of class as I was reading it.
    David Steffano
    Kansas City
    Steffano is partner/director of sponsorship and event marketing at Evenergy Events & Sponsorships.

    ■ ■ ■

    I don’t think I have ever written to someone before regarding a column in SBJ. I agree 100 percent with what you said. You have made a real difference in the industry.
    Jim Host
    Lexington, Ky.
    Host is chairman of Volar Video.

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    Your response to Mark Cuban earlier this week was a powerful case in restraint polished by wisdom. One day, would enjoy mixing it up with your students.
    Matt Levine
    Los Altos, Calif.
    Levine is CEO and managing director of SourceUSA.

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  • Sports’ big seat at the mentorship table

    Charles Barkley has changed his tune when it comes to being a role model. (Shilling for Weight Watchers will do that). It seems now that Charles’ point was always that he is a role model, he just wasn’t the only role model a young person should have. And that makes sense. Who looks up to only one person? What company benchmarks itself against only one other company? We need a variety of quality people and institutions with which to align ourselves. The challenge for many starting out is making contact with those worthy of such attention. They are out there. Rather, it is more about access.

    You should take a moment to congratulate yourself because even if you haven’t thought about being a mentor, you probably have held that position as a family member, friend, boss, colleague and/or teammate on a regular basis. Or maybe you actually held the title of “mentor.” I had the honor of being a mentor for four years in the Fulfillment Fund in Los Angeles, an organization that identifies teens with a shortage of resources but not initiative. The fund pairs the student with someone who can provide the type of guidance essential to mine the challenges in our modern society. And it is not one-sided: The mentor gets as much value in enlightened perspective and fun times as the mentee.

    Our industry and its members have a natural connection to being mentors. It is an industry very much built on personal and professional relationships. We regularly find ourselves in positions to serve as senior advisers to newer employees at leagues, teams, companies, organizations and nonprofits, via our respective alumni associations to current and former students, and through our participation in the increasing number of valuable professional organizations out there, e.g. Sports Lawyers Association, International Association of Venue Managers, and the National Sports Marketing Network.

    Our professional networking groups are especially ripe for folks to interact as they are a wonderful mix of the experienced and the newly informed. The mentor relationship can be formal — with regularly scheduled points of interaction — or more informal, where giving 20 minutes of career advice one time can provide a lifetime of value. The key is to offer regular opportunities to interact. And while some might bemoan the growth of certain technologies and social media, used correctly, they can facilitate communication between the parties involved in mentoring.

    Mentoring has always been important, so why bring it up now? Most of us recognize how fast life has become, how busy we all are, and that taking time out to consider the plight of others can get lost in the whirlwind of that activity. In a tight economy, it is natural to focus on “getting mine” instead of helping others “get theirs.” But this is precisely when an outsider’s perspective, advice and well-timed words of encouragement can make the difference in a person’s life.

    And why sports? We are an industry built on teamwork, on seniors helping freshmen, of alumni rooting for the next generation of players. And we are part of a professional environment that demands greater knowledge and skills than in the past. Many times those essential tools are best delivered not by books but rather those who have gained them through experience.

    So as we think about what we will do more of, better of — or in the case of vices, less of, in 2014 — please keep in mind something that you are naturally capable of doing. Find time to mentor. It will make you a better person and give us a better industry.

    Sarbjit “Sab” Singh (singhs@farmingdale.edu) is an assistant professor at Farmingdale State College in New York.

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  • Cartoon: Gotta be the shoes

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