Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 174
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

SBJ Unpacks: How University Sports Management Programs Adapt

When the Univ. of Oregon announced that students would not return to campus after Spring Break, most thought they would be back within a few weeks. But it has not turned out that way. On the most recent episode of “SBJ Unpacks -- Weathering COVID-19,” our Bill King speaks with UO Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Whitney Wagoner to look back at the road the Class of 2020 has traveled at sports management programs across the country, and ahead to what awaits them.

On how the pandemic has prepared students to join the workforce:
Wagoner: One of our guest speakers said this really is the future of work. This is the future of global work in the 21st century. This person encouraged our students to look at this time as an opportunity to get good at working this way. Here is an opportunity to hone your skills at remote work … (because) the better you can get at communicating and working and being efficient and productive on these remote platforms, the better employee and more attractive as a job candidate you will be.

On ways graduates should position themselves in a dire job market to differentiate themselves when the economy turns:
Wagoner: Disruption is a time for new thinking, and what our students can do during this time is work on some ideas and write some briefs and write some pitch documents on new thinking. When companies are going to be coming back, when companies are going to be considering the road forward, it will require new thinking and outside the box ideas. We’re just really encouraging our students to be that voice and to come to any conversations they have with industry with ideas, positioning themselves as part of the solution.

On broadening horizons to non-sports-related jobs in order to develop skills that will be useful within the sports industry when it revives:
Wagoner: This is about maximizing the number of potential doors you can walk through, and that does mean broadening. The conversations we’re having are still about focus. Let’s say it’s business in science and analytics, or it’s loyalty and retention, or it’s digital marketing. The skill focus stays the same, but to broaden the potential applications is important and pragmatic in these times. I definitely have been counseling students that if you’re a data analytics person and what you really want to do is work for a sports team and dig into the profile information you have in your various fan databases, maybe consumer packaged goods, health care, transportation or other tech is a place where you can get a job in business and hone your chops on various pieces of software.