In an industry where experience is an added benefit to what is learned in the classroom, students from the Center of Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University recently got the experience of a lifetime at the Sport Marketing Association (SMA) Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio. Four students from the CSL, Stephen Embrey, Jeremy Hirsch, Jason Martin, and Kevin Wagner had the opportunity to travel to Cleveland for the SMA Conference and represent VCU in its Graduate Case Study Competition. The team, who had worked together for weeks on the case study, was able to finish second in the competition, beating esteemed Sport Management programs such as Florida State and Canisius.
The Case Study Competition held during the SMA Conference involved the Charlotte Bobcats franchise of the NBA and asked each team to create a marketing management strategy to fix their performance on the court, in the stands, and in the Charlotte community. Taking the perspective of the Bobcats’ front office management, the CSL team created a fan initiative known as “FanF1rst,” which would help the Bobcats rectify their current situation. With “FanF1rst,” the initiative consisted of researching the fan, interacting with the fan, and catering to the fan. “Our plan with FanF1rst was to provide a comprehensive marketing plan involving extensive research and community involvement to reunite basketball and the citizens of Charlotte in a positive manner,” said Kevin Wagner. Each component of “FanF1rst”allowed the team to create an innovative marketing strategy to make the Charlotte Bobcats a more marketable product.
In addition to the Case Study Competition, the CSL students were able to experience the sights and sounds of Cleveland throughout the duration of the SMA Conference. Students were able to meet and interact with the best and the brightest from the academia and athletic worlds to learn about new ideas taking root in the Sport industry. The conference featured a wide array of influential presenters such as Mike McGee, the Managing Director of the ANNIKA Brand of Businesses, Len Komoroski, the President of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Paul Dolan, President of the Cleveland Indians. Each presenter was able to bring their own perspective of the Sport industry to the table and gave insight about the future of sport. CSL student Jeremy Hirsch remarked, “I was amazed at the collection of minds from around the sports industry present at the event, and was even able to do some networking to help myself for my intended career path.”
After finishing second in the Case Study Competition and meeting sport business leaders, the students will remember the SMA Conference in Cleveland as a great learning tool. Group advisor and Professor Brendan Dwyer said “the SMA case study trip was an excellent opportunity for the students to interact with industry leaders while at the same time competing against other reputable graduate programs.” Upon returning to Richmond, the CSL students will finish out the rest of the Fall semester with projects, papers, and events that will enhance their classroom experience.
By: Jason Martin, CSL Class of 2010