Sports Business MBA

“You’re getting an MBA to work in…Video Games?”

My mother has been a patient and understanding woman when it comes to me, her oldest of three sons. When it took me nearly seven years to finish my undergraduate degree, she gave me nothing but unconditional love and support. Two years later, when I told her I was going to law school, she was my biggest cheerleader. When I moved across the country to work for the United States Senate, she gave me a big hug and told me to go make a difference. But when I told her last spring that I was leaving the practice of law to pursue my MBA in Sports Business at the University of Oregon and that I wanted to work in eSports, or professional video game competitions, I think even she will admit that her resolve started to waiver.

Was this some sort of early 30’s crisis? Maybe some form of pathological avoidance? Or is it simply the next step in a vast conspiracy to deprive her of grandchildren? The answer, as it turns out, was much simpler. I have had two life-long passions: sports and video games. And with the meteoric rise in popularity and viability of eSports, for the first time I had finally found an industry that could blend those passions and give me a career I could not only excel at, but also be truly enthusiastic about. But did I really need an MBA from Oregon to work in this?

In a word, yes. Today, eSports boasts a community of over 250 million viewers and hosts tournaments that now regularly offer prize pools in the high-seven or even eight figures. Championship matches draw viewership numbers that exceed the Stanley Cup Final. Mainstream brands such as T-Mobile, Coke, Arby’s, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Bull and others are major sponsors of multiple events and broadcasts. Even traditional professional sports teams have taken notice, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic having already invested in eSports teams, and others such as the Dallas Cowboys actively interested in entering the space.

eSports is going mainstream, and those teams, developers, and sponsors are going to begin expecting expertise in not only gaming, but also in business.  Knowing the difference between an AP Carry and a Jungler is well and good, but knowing the difference between endemic and non-endemic brands and how to create value for both in an emerging market is how you’re really going to impress and get noticed in the gaming world these days. As I’ve learned, studying Sports Marketing under a Vice President of Club Services for Major League Soccer is much more likely to get you noticed by Riot or Blizzard than a Diamond or Master level player ranking.

When I told Warsaw Program Manager Craig Leon during my MBA interview that I wanted to work in eSports, he smiled and told me, “You know, if you had come here even two years ago, I probably would have told you we weren’t the place for you; but now? Let’s do it.” I didn’t know it at the time, but those words would profoundly change my life, almost universally for the better.

My mom still doesn’t quite understand what I’m trying to do in my career; despite having three gamer sons, she never got past Frogger. But she knows that her boy is happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic about this path he’s on at the Oregon MBA than she’s heard him in a long time. And, at the end of the day, that is all a mother can ask for…well, that and maybe grandchildren.

Written by Justin Surber

Justin is a 2018 MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center focused on eSports. His background is primarily in law and politics, where he worked as an attorney and interned in the United States Senate prior to giving in to his love of sports and video games. Before coming to Oregon, Justin graduated from Linfield College with a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and received his Juris Doctorate with Honors from Willamette University College of Law. Outside of school, Justin enjoys tennis, reading, trying a new craft brewery, and all the joys and pitfalls of being a dog parent.

Warsaw MBA Students and Oregon SPM Students Connect Over Shared History

Warsaw Sports Marketing first year MBA students, together with the incoming Sports Product Management (SPM) students from the U of O’s Portland campus had the privilege of visiting some powerful pieces of Eugene history in September 2016.

When an email came through to my inbox inviting Warsaw students to join a private tour of “Nike/Eugene” heritage, I was immediately intrigued and RSVP’d. On the morning of the tour, we all met outside Bowerman’s Lab where we were greeted by Steve Bence from Nike.  Bowerman’s Lab is a hidden gem in Eugene; it was a space Bill Bowerman created to work on the design and construction of some of the very first Nike shoes. The rooms in Bowerman’s Lab were quite small, so before we all split into smaller groups for the tour, we congregated outside to hear the story behind the lab. Bence shared details about the history of the lab. The location was all part of Bowerman’s plan, and his location choice helped lead him to some of his greatest innovations. We then heard from Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, the Director of the UO SPM program, who recounted her experiences as a runner on the University of Oregon track team during Bowerman’s launch of Nike. She was one of the women who got to trial shoes while they were in development and played a key role in the evolution of their design. It was exciting to hear her account of Bowerman’s design inspiration and then to take a step back in time and see it all come to life as we toured the lab.

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After our tour of Bowerman’s Lab, we drove across town to visit Pre’s Rock. Up windy roads and tucked into a neighborhood we found a memorial for the late Steve Prefontaine. I had first heard about Pre when I was a runner on my high school’s track and cross country teams. My coach, Rey Garza, was one of many who were inspired by and believed in Pre’s legacy – so much that he’d named his son Steve, after him. Often at practice Coach Rey would tell us the stories he’d heard of Pre’s running career, so visiting Pre’s Rock for the first time was an exciting and sobering moment for me. Many runners and Pre fans travel thousands of miles to come dedicate their running memorabilia in Pre’s name. We saw t-shirts, sweat bands, race bibs, finisher medals, beads and cheer poms all decorating the memorial. Bence, who was good friends with Pre and ran with him during his college years, shared with us some of his favorite personal memories.  It has been decades since Pre’s passing, so it is truly remarkable to see the impact he still has on the entire running community.

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Our third stop on the tour was on the University of Oregon campus – Hayward Field. Hayward Field holds a special place in the hearts of runners across the globe, whether they’ve actually visited the track or not.  There is no other track in the United States that is as well-known and rich in history as Hayward Field. Some of the best athletes in the world have competed on the field, and some of the fastest runners in the world have toed the line on the track. It’s home to many of the most prestigious international meets, including the annual Prefontaine Classic. It’s the kind of place that gives you goosebumps. I’ve already ran past the field a few times since I moved to Eugene – just for the extra inspiration.

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Our next stop for the day was at the state-of-the-art John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes. We all filed into the auditorium and found our seats in bright yellow theater-style chairs. We heard a speech from Whitney Wagoner, Director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, and she shared some of the goals and the history of the Warsaw program.  Schmidt-Devlin spoke next about the Sports Product Management program and welcomed the second class of SPM students. They each talked about the significance of the two programs in the sports community, and future plans for more collaboration between both programs. Last, but not least, David Higdon, NASCAR’s VP of Integrated Marketing Communications and the Chair of the Warsaw Center Advisory Board, got us pumped for the tailgate and the game we attended that afternoon.

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Inspired and energized by the morning’s activities and speakers, we all flocked over to the Ducks football game for some food and networking at the joint Warsaw-SPM tailgate.

These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are what differentiates the University of Oregon’s sports programs and what ultimately sold me on choosing to pursue my MBA here. I know this day will be one of the highlights of my University of Oregon MBA career.

Written by Amber Santos

Santos is a Class of 2018 Oregon MBA student with a passion for marketing, running and the outdoors. Before moving to Eugene for the MBA program, Santos grew up in California and earned her undergraduate B.S. in Business Administration; marketing, with a minor in fashion merchandising from California State University, Long Beach. She spent her time between degrees working in the advertising world in Los Angeles. As an Oregon MBA within the Warsaw Sports Marketing cohort, Santos plans to further develop her skillset and pursue a career in sports apparel marketing upon graduation.

One Small Patch of Fabric – A Lot of Weight

 

Sponsorship is a huge part of the sports business world and a significant portion of most professional franchises’ revenues. Outside the United States, it is commonplace to have the team’s sponsors’ branding on all team apparel, especially game jerseys. For many years, however, US sports have resisted this trend (and resulting revenue) by banning on-jersey sponsorships. This month the NBA approved a three-year pilot program to begin in the 2017-18 season allowing on-jersey advertisements. Long a subject of debate in and around the league, the program was approved 28-2 by the NBA team owners. The 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch patch will appear on the left shoulder of the player’s jersey opposite the Nike swoosh. The 2017-18 season will also bring the beginning of Nike’s exclusive apparel deal with the NBA, an eight-year deal with an estimated value of over $1B. The NBA logo will remain on the back of the jersey where it was moved two years ago.

Seattle Sounders Jersey featuring sponsorship of Microsoft’s XBOX product

In 2006, Major League Soccer became the first American professional league to allow its teams to sell ad space on-jersey. Shortly thereafter, the WNBA followed suit, also allowing the on-jersey ads. Signs that the four major sports leagues might allow on-jersey ads have been apparent for years: the NFL allowed practice jerseys to be sponsored in 2009 and the NBA put the Kia brand patch, the official automotive partner of the NBA, on the 2016 All-Star Game jerseys. Nonetheless, it remained unclear whether the owners would approve the on-jersey ads for regular season games.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Sponsorship is not only a revenue source for teams, but also allows brands to build a deep connection with “their” team. Brands sponsoring a team seek to build an association with the fans between its brand and the team. “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting ways,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver cites the changing media landscape and the fact that “people are watching far less commercials” as the reason why companies need additional opportunities to connect with their consumers. Commissioner Silver projects the pilot program will generate over $100 million for the League. To make the deal more attractive to the League owners in smaller markets, half of the revenue generated from this ad space for each team will be put in the revenue-sharing pool and half will be kept by the team.
However, the reaction has not all been positive as many people are resistant to the break from tradition and the further “commercializing” of American sports. As a compromise, the NBA will not allow merchandise with the new corporate logos to be sold except in official team stores at the team’s discretion. This was also the reason for the relatively small, and some hope inconspicuous, patch.
While most would say I am a traditionalist, as an MBA focusing in sports marketing with a particular interest in sponsorship, I believe the League should have the ability to exercise this option if they so choose. The NBA is a business after all.

Written by Robert Cella

As I transition into sports business industry, I am a current MBA candidate at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I am energized and passionate as I make this career change into sponsorships and corporate partnerships. With experience in small business operations, financial advising and international business, I am well-positioned to succeed in this area upon graduation in 2017.

Media Access at the Moda Center: An Insider’s View of NBA Game Day

When I first landed in the United States (Boston in particular), the first thing I did was book a ticket for a Celtics game. I chose to see a Knicks – Celtics game due to their historic rivalry. The TD Garden had a perfect atmosphere and, although neither team was at its best, it was an unforgettable experience. Today, two years later, I’ve been given the opportunity to see the NBA from the inside. As part of the NBA press media representing a Spanish radio station, I am lucky to see the NBA from another point of view; one much closer than I ever expected.

How did this amazing opportunity come about? I have connections with media outlets back home in Spain, and I thought that they might need someone that they know and trust who could cover NBA games in the Pacific Northwest. I sent a few emails and in a few weeks was at the Moda Center with my first NBA press credential happier than ever.

Lesson: Create your own job and your own chances through networking. The right connections are key in the sports business industry.

I usually arrive at the Moda Center an hour and a half before the games. The media entrance is the same one as the entrance to the floor so we have to pass through security. They check my backpack, and I have to go through the metal detector to verify that I am not carrying anything dangerous. After that, I can pick up my accreditation and am all set to start working. Since I am not a full time journalist, but an MBA student who lives in Eugene, I have to ask for credentials for each game. I email the radio station a few days before, letting them know that I will attend the game and they let me pick up my credentials upon arrival.

Once I have collected my press credentials, I enter the media room where I enjoy the delicious dinner that the Blazers’ staff politely offers to all the accredited journalists for the game. This is my chance to talk to fellow journalists and do some networking which always helps. An hour before the game, I have the option to interview the coaches of both teams and go on the floor to take photos. As a member of the press, I have access to the VIP area, the bench, and the court. After the game, media members also have access to the locker room.

My working station is in Section 207 of the Moda Center, just behind the VIP area. I can see the game perfectly and have a table for my laptop and a TV where I can watch other NBA games or check the game statistics. We definitely have everything we need there. At the end of each quarter, a representative of the Blazers gives us a sheet with game stats and fun facts that help us tweet or write to fans with data to support our comments. I admit that most of us spend the game tweeting. At the end of the game, the Blazers PR department emails or posts on the media website a press release with the game report that we can use to write our articles.

Once the game ends, I can attend the Blazers coach press conference or interview the rival coach in the hallway of the entrance to the locker room. After the coach answers our questions we are granted access to the locker rooms to interview the players.

                           The Media Room at the Moda Center

How many times have we seen in the media that a player had a triple-double in the game? Or beat the record of 3 pointers in a quarter? If you were a coach, would you give a player that has 18 points and 9 rebounds a chance to play a few more minutes to get his double-double even if you were winning by 20 points? In this game, the statistics have a tremendous influence on the game. Let me share with you an interesting anecdote: Why do you think Draymond Green, aka “Mr. Triple-double,” played just one minute in the 4th quarter of the Warriors – Blazers game? They were winning by 15 points and as one of the players with the most overall season minutes, Green needed the rest. But at that point in the game, Green had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Could you guess what happened after that minute? Good old Draymond got the assist needed for his umpteenth triple-double of the season and went straight to the bench.

That’s another advantage of watching NBA from behind the cameras: Continued access to statistics and fun facts provided by the excellent public relations department of the Blazers. This makes a journalist’s life much easier–not only to objectively discuss the game (If you see the “Splash Brothers scoring 60 points with more than 50% FG” no doubt that you can objectively say they have destroyed the Blazers) but it also helps to understand some coaching decisions that a viewer, focused on the game and its continuous highlights, simply cannot see.

The line-up of the players that I have had the good fortune to watch and report on at the Moda Center are:

PG – Steph Curry

PG – Russell Westbrook

SF – Kevin Durant

SF – Draymond Green

C – DeAndre Jordan

6th Man: Klay Thompson

 

And my favorite moments are:

1. Taking part in the Steph Curry post-game interview

2. Meeting Paul Pierce

3. The food at the Rose Garden / Moda Center– simply delicious!

 

Written by jcampos@uoregon.edu

Jose Campos is an experienced Sports Marketer born in Spain and 2017 Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA. After a few years working in the UK, Jose came to the US to work at the East Coast before arriving at the UO. After graduating he is looking to work as Sports Agent.

Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Engaging Asia Recap

As second year Oregon MBA students, we experience the trip of a lifetime for two weeks in September to Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. This trip was filled with trips to visit companies, amazing food and company, and plenty of time to explore. Students from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center took some time to highlight their favorite memories and experiences from this incredible trip.

What was your favorite experience in Shanghai, Beijing, or Singapore and why?

Ismael Nunez-Oliva:

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.19.05 PMThe Sports Matters conference was quite the highlight of my trip. We had the opportunity to attend the most important sports conference in Asia at the Marina Bay Sands. During the conference, we met professionals of the industry from different locations, such as China, Thailand and Australia.

James Stewart:

My favorite experience had to be the Great Wall of China. I never really thought too much about it before actually being there and walking along the wall. How something of that size was built on top of these mountains and is still there today is mind-blowing.

Will Eidam:

received_10206952594325133Being able to visit the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena in Shanghai with Charles Humphrey Smith was a great behind-the-scenes experience that one could only get through Warsaw’s connections. Not only were we given a private tour of the heavily-guarded complex, but we also learned a lot about the political structure of sports in China, specifically Shanghai, that you don’t hear too much about unless you’re talking to someone who has experienced it first-hand.

David Ehrlich:

My favorite experience was the Formula 1 practice in Singapore. I have a huge passion for the sport of Formula 1 racing and to see the cars up close was beyond amazing. The speed, the technology that goes into the cars and the love that fans have for specific manufacturers and drivers. The American market hasn’t embraced Formula 1 much like a country like Singapore. The sport has helped put Singapore on the global sports landscape and provides the opportunity to bid on additional events like junior world championships and the upcoming Rugby 7’s.

received_10206987356154157Vanessa Pollitt:

I most enjoyed the visit to the Olympic Village in Beijing. I remember watching the Olympics back in 2008 and it was incredible getting to see the facilities that made that type of event possible. I personally enjoyed the tour of the Water Cube. As, a former swimmer seeing the pool where Michael Phelps won a historic eight gold medals was definitely a highlight of the trip.

 

What was the best meal you had on the trip?

Ismael Nunez Oliva:

Chinese hospitality can be overwhelming. As part of the Chinese culture, you need to provide as much food as you can when you are hosting. Some days, we were invited to taste local Chinese dishes that were an explosion of flavors and weird components, such as duck heads.

Will Eidam:

MrShisDumplingsAs great as the large family meals were– and they were amazing and stomach-filling — my best meal was when I went off the beaten path and explored the Hutongs of Beijing. (Alleys formed by lines of historical, traditional courtyard residences.) There, I discovered Mr. Shi’s Dumplings, a Euro-friendly modest restaurant where I was treated to various combinations of steamed and fried dumplings. (The pork, cheese and coriander combo was the best.) Sampling duck head or other non-traditional food items during family meals were great, but it’s hard to beat a well-served plate of hot dumplings.

Benji Bryant:

Breakfast at the hotel in Shanghai was my favorite meal of the trip. It was the most epic breakfast buffet that you will ever see. I seriously spent 2 hours every morning trying to make it to every buffet station. Also, the meals with duck were amazing. It is like a better version of turkey.

What was your favorite company or site visit of the trip and why?

Ismael Nunez-Oliva:Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.30.57 PM

I enjoyed our visit to Sport Singapore the most. We had the chance to work and engage with different professionals on a two hour workshop about specific obstacles of the local sports industry. In addition, the opportunity to visit the National Stadium in Singapore was overwhelming and we ended up our visit with a small game of Netball against SportSG. We had a close game but at the end we lost.

Whitney Scott:

IMG_7647 (1)I really enjoyed going to the NFL activation in Beijing. The NFL is still working through how to market in China, and seeing a true activation was a great learning experience (and super fun to take part in). I thought they did a great job of using technology to promote and make their activities more fun and engaging, but also very easy on the “consumer”. I enjoyed hearing about the challenges that China is facing with the NFL, but more so how they are going about tackling those issues.

Christine Lutz:

My favorite company visit was to a hat factory in Shanghai. We received a tour of the entire facility and were walked through the process of making a hat, from idea generation to fabric selection to manufacturing. It was incredible to see the inner workings of a factory and I was amazed at how many famous brands were made under the same factory roof. We then got to explore their showroom and learn a Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.35.11 PMlittle bit more about their sales process.

Vanessa Pollitt:

My favorite company visit of the trip was the Sentosa Golf Course in Singapore. I really enjoyed the presentation as well as the tour of the grounds. I also felt it was a fun experience to share between all of the centers.

What city did you most enjoy and why?

James Stewart:

Each city was great for its own reasons. If you were dropped in the middle of downtown Shanghai, it seemed like any other large city in America, except much bigger. The lights and buildings at night were amazing along the river. You could find other people who spoke English and stores and restaurants that you recognized. Beijing was great because it was the first time I really felt like I was in China. The Great Wall was an experience I’ll never forget and a few of us got to check out the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Singapore was very interesting. It didn’t seem like there was a stereotypical Singaporean culture or person, just a mix of all different types of cultures, and on one tour they were explaining to us that the country was growing by using imported sand to increase the size of the island. Pretty wild if you ask me. Being somebody who had never been to Asia before it was very eye-opening. There’s so much to this world that would never cross your mind until you go out there and experience it for yourself.

Jacob Rosen:

I had the best time in Singapore. It’s such a mix of so many cultures and despite the almost unbearable humidity, I wish we had some more time to wander around. Singapore’s history and culture is just so fascinating, including the fact they’ve built up 20% more land by being the world’s largest importer of sand. Since we Engaging Asia Great Wall of Chinahave such a good relation with SportSingapore, we had inside information from our peers and past trips of where to go all around the city-state. I’d love to go back.

Christine Lutz:

My favorite stop of the trip was Beijing. I enjoyed all of the rich history and culture of this city and definitely felt it was the most educational. Visiting the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven were just a few of the amazing places I explored while in Beijing. The food was very authentically Chinese and there were street vendors set up every night selling all sorts of exotic creations such as tarantula, shark, and silk worm.

What advice do you have for future students going on this trip?

Will Eidam:

To make the experience more rewarding, I would advise all students to do research on China’s political and social culture. Having even the most basic understanding will allow you to go more in depth during conversations with speakers who have graciously taken time out of their busy day to speak with students from across the Pacific. Also, you’re only in each city for a couple of days, so having an understanding of where you want to go and what you want to see during your downtime can make a huge difference between having a so-so experience and having an unforgettable one.

Engaging Asia SingaporeJacob Rosen:

Explore the cities during your free time. The long days of networking can be exhausting but you might only go to Asia once in your life. Take time to just wander out and explore the city. Wake up early in the morning or defer your naps until your return to Eugene. Cherish the time you’ve got overseas and make the most of it.

 

Benji Bryant:

Go! No matter what. This is a once in a lifetime trip that you definitely do not want to miss out on.

Written by Christine Lutz

Christine was born and raised in North Carolina and is a current second year MBA Student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

NYC Top Ten from Sports Marketing MBA Visit

10. Glideslope

Agency visits were at a minimum during this trip, but Glideslope is a regular stop for our Sports Marketing MBA group. The agency’s founding partner, David Fuller and senior associate Jamie Rocha shared some great information about how companies can leverage global sports to create a long-lasting and positive effect on people around the world. In a competitive landscape where a lot of sports marketing agencies are trying to do everything, it was refreshing to see the specialized space that Glideslope has carved out for itself. The visit was capped by a panel that included Oregon alum Matt Geshke from Lareus Sport for Good Foundation and Paul Teeple, the Sport for Development Director at Partners for the Americas. Sports has a powerful influence and it’s clear that some companies are doing a fantastic job at using it to help develop other nations.

9. Major League Soccer

UO Alumnus Ian Campbell was our primary host at the MLS league office. His job is associated with supporting individual team’s business operations around the league. In addition to Ian, we were privileged to talk with Greg Lalas, the editor-in-chief for MLS Digital and CMO and good friend to our program, Howard Handler. I really enjoyed Howard’s presentation on the re-branding effort the league recently undertook. The background and reasoning behind the effort was interesting to hear straight from the CMO. This is the type of experience one can expect as part of this program!

8. National Basketball Association

Hearing stories and seeing pictures of previous visits with David Stern at the NBA raised our hopes for the possibility to spend some time with Commissioner Silver, but schedules did not align this year… However, the visit was far from a downer. We were treated to lunch and the company of a four person panel with a representative from Global Partnerships, Merchandising, Digital Marketing and Digital Media. From a business perspective, the NBA does a lot of things really well and I’m glad we were able to hear about a lot of their efforts first hand. I hope the commissioner knows he is welcome to visit us in Eugene anytime!

7. Alumni Networking Event

Food and drink provided by the program + visiting with alumni who are killing it in NYC and other northeast cities = Awesome! (that’s what this program is all about)

6. Bloomberg Sports

We know that data and analytics have become buzzwords in sports. However, I don’t think any of us really understood how much data is being collected and the amazing tools available to synthesize and recall that data to answer a question. Bill Squadron played host at Bloomberg Sports and humored the fantasy nerds and stat heads in our group. To show the power of some of the tools they have developed, he pulled up pitch information about a well known pitcher, restricted parameters to curveball location on 3-2 counts. What we saw were a few dots scattered around a box to simulate a strike zone, which indicated that this pitcher doesn’t trust his curveball as much deep into the count. What truly impressed us though was Bill proceeded to click on one of the dots and the game video popped up of that exact pitch! After picking up our jaws from off the table I think we all knew what tools we would want to use the next time we fill out our fantasy roster.

5. 9/11 Memorial

A number of members of the group had never been to New York before this trip and a larger number of those who had, this was their first opportunity to see the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center site on 9/11. You can’t help but be awestruck as you first approach the sunken waterfall. Viewing the names that surround the memorial of those who died clearly communicates that this is hallowed ground. A lot of us shared where we were that fateful morning, how old we were and whether we knew anyone directly affected by the event. But the truth is, we were all affected. It was moving to be able to pay respects to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren who died too soon.

4. ESPN

Who wouldn’t be excited to visit the worldwide leader is sports television! Other than seeing and hearing from a few program alumni (Kelly Johnson, David Hobbie and Gil Beverly), I felt like the highlight of this visit was listening to Barry Blyn from ESPN’s consumer insights group. He spoke about the ESPN brand and how they strive to communicate that to viewers. “Sports with authority and personality.”

3. Madison Square Garden

The mecca of all NBA arenas. From top to bottom the arena is amazing and since it’s remodel in 2013 the premium seating options offer a lot of variety and are regularly sold out. Wait, but how good are the Knicks this year? Apparently that doesn’t matter because in a market like New York people  are willing to pay during a down year to hold on to their spot for a good year. Premium seating inventory expanded in two areas I wouldn’t expect. The first is the sky bridge seats. Almost unnoticeable from the court/ice, fans are able to watch the game from a catwalk-like platform that extends along both sidelines, so you are literally right over the action! The second is the suite bunkers located under the court/ice. That’s right, you can’t even see the live action from these suites! These bunker suites are custom built and are meant to provide a space where people can talk or conduct business in a quiet and private setting. They’re all sold, so I guess the “if you build it, they will come” mantra works at the Garden. Big thanks to Andy Renmeester for arranging the tour!

2. Galatioto Sports Partners

There are few individuals in the sports finance world that are so well connected that they know everyone personally and regularly play an integral role in team dispositions and acquisitions. Sal Galatioto is one of those individuals. To be honest, I don’t think there is a member of our group who really understood who Sal is and what he has accomplished. But that wasn’t the case when we left! He and his firm have consulted with and helped finance dozens of sports franchise transactions. Any sale of a team within the past 20 years, Sal was either involved or new specific details of the deal. However, it wasn’t his resume that impressed us the most and made our visit to his office so special. He is a great storyteller and the passion infused in his telling of the story communicated that this guy loves what he does and he has built relationships in the business by being true to who he is and taking risks. Stories like his are an inspiration to a bunch of MBA students who are anxious to make their own mark in the industry. Thanks for sitting back and telling us how it is, Sal! We’ll always remember your thoughts about MLS…

1. Spending time with the cohort and not having canceled flights

We spent eight unforgettable days in New York City visiting companies and meeting executives in the industry we love. Flights were on-time (enough) to get us where we needed to go and growing closer as a cohort outside of Eugene created memories that will last a lifetime. Here’s to our last experiential trip on this two-year roller coaster!

Written by Seth Bohne

Seth is a second year MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He is planning to go into strategic planning and business development for a sports property or brand.

Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

From Toronto with Love

James and PuddlesBack to school? It has been three and half years since I’ve been in a classroom, but the learning never stopped. I don’t think it ever will stop. I hope it never does.

My name is James and I’m a first year MBA student at the University of Oregon in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I’m originally from Toronto and graduated from a small school an hour west of the big Canadian city.

Throughout high school I never really knew what I wanted to do, so I went to a university that a majority of my friends were going to and chose to study business because, “why not”? It seemed like everything fell under the umbrella of ‘business’, so I’d be covered in whatever profession I ended up pursuing. As I went through university I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do afterwards. All I knew was that I was having fun playing sports and meeting new friends, and doing enough studying on the side to get my degree. I graduated with an Honors BBA and a specialization in Marketing in April of 2011.

I was lucky enough to have had a connection from a previous summer job, so I started my first full-time role at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) the following month. The money was nice, I hadn’t done enough planning to have any other offers, but I still wasn’t too sure about what I wanted to do. Looking back, I learned more in the first few months at RBC than I did throughout university. I learned about business operations, efficiencies and managing projects. I learned about how to act in an office, who to speak to, how to speak to them, how to get work done. Most importantly, however, I learned that this job wasn’t what I wanted to do. It became harder and harder to keep myself motivated to go into work, so I had to start looking for a new job.

For the first time in my life, I started thinking about where I actually wanted to go career-wise. What industry could I go into that would keep me driven to succeed? Where could I be happy working? The answer was right in front of me the whole time – sports.

I spend all of my free time playing or watching sports, so why not spend my hours in a job doing something along those same lines? I spent countless hours surfing job postings, websites, and setting up meetings. I learned that it’s not very easy to land a job, especially one in your field of interest. I lucked out by meeting the right people who were able to get me an interview for a position at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. I wasn’t the most qualified person for the E-mail Marketing role, but I was the most passionate. This was the company who ran the teams I followed since I was a kid. They had shaped my life, and the hiring managers could see I would put that energy into my work.

The only problem was that the role was a three-month contract, working four days a week, for a much smaller salary than at the bank. I didn’t even think twice. I worked hard through a year of three-month contracts. I wanted to be there and my work ethic showed just that. They had no choice but to hire me on full-time, but it wasn’t enough for me. I had learned that I wanted to be in the sports industry, specifically in marketing, and I had learned that nothing in the working world is easy to achieve. I had learned that I wanted to be better and I wanted to move up the corporate ladder.

This newfound personal awareness encouraged me to start looking at MBA programs. Oregon was my top choice because of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I would be given all the opportunity in the world to learn more about the industry, to increase my knowledge and experience, and to network with top executives in the sports business world. I’m about a month into classes and this time around, unlike my time during my undergrad, I know where I want to go and what I need to do to get there. The workload is tough, but from my time at Maple Leaf Sports I’ve learned that nothing worth working for comes easy. I’ve learned how to present myself in front of colleagues, how to get work done efficiently, and how to manage my time from my experiences at RBC. I’m learning from the courses, the cases, the group work, my fellow classmates, and the guest speakers. Most importantly, I’m learning more about myself, and that’s the most rewarding part.

It’s been a long journey to get here and I’m a long way from home, but these next two years are going to go faster than I can imagine. I’m just going to try to soak up the experience as much as I can, and make sure I learn something new everyday.

Written by jstewart@uoregon.edu

James is a first year MBA student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Before joining the program he worked as an Email Marketing Coordinator at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), and Toronto FC (MLS). He would like to continue a career within the sports industry after graduating; focusing in marketing, partnerships, or consulting. In his free time, James is usually playing, watching, or reading about sports and relaxing with his guitar and his friends.

Warsaw Center & Nike N7 team up for NAYA Field Day

Naya’s mission is to enhance the diverse strengths of our youth and families in partnership with the community through cultural identity and education. WARSAW worked with nearly one hundred high school students during the Nike N7 field day.

Throughout the day, students were able to participate in a number of American sports ranging from football and basketball to lacrosse and golf. There were also a few Native American games the students were able to play, such as: shinny and hot rocks. Anthony Newman, a Duck Alum and past NFL player was able to spend all day with the kids inspiring them to work harder and understand the importance of a team.

At the end of the day two students (one female and one male) were chosen for the spirit award. Attributes had to consist of, cheering on their teammates, never giving up and taking on a leadership role when needed. The students were not aware of this award and yet, a handful were strong contenders when it came time to choose.

When the day was completed and the students had gone home, teachers at NAYA made sure Nike N7 and the WARSAW Sports Business students knew the impact they just had. The teachers expressed how a handful of students who participated in the field day had never participated in physical activity before. They assured us we were not only inspirational to the students but eye opening as well. WARSAW along with Nike N7, was able to create a day were students wanted to come to school and work together with their classmates. All in all, it was an inspiring experience that the WARSAW Sports Marketing students will never be able to forget.

–Katie Bartholomew, ’13
Journalism Major

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Warsaw Center & David Stern

Warsaw Sports MBA’s vist the NBA, David Stern in NYC

In anticipation of our Wednesday meeting with executives at the NBA’s 5th Avenue headquarters, the majority of the Warsaw crew made the judicious decision to pass up a late Tuesday night in NYC for much-needed rest.  We arrived in the morning looking impressively bright-eyed and alert, and were greeted first by NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

Warsaw Center & David Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Discussion focused on the new CBA, competitive balance and the potential for a revenue-sharing business model in the coming years.  Although Stern postulated that revenue-sharing could once again bring up the possibility of small-market team contraction, NBA owners in the last week have reportedly initiated discussions to make it a reality (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/revenue-sharing-plan-taking-shape-143828186.html).  Stern also stated that the current 30-team alignment is working well and that the plan for the next decade is to “exploit the brand globally” by providing access to international audiences through the expansion of digital media.  After Stern and Silver left to attend to more pressing matters, we had the chance to meet with WNBA President Laurel Richie.  The Warsaw students took a keen interest in discussing the demographics of WNBA fans, and Ritchie explained that the league is focused on making the experience rewarding for all fans of basketball, not just for women and families.

 

WNBA President Laurel Richie and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Richie also mentioned that the two core points of differentiation for the WNBA are its accessibility and the purity of the game.  Next in the distinguished queue of executives was Chris Granger, the EVP of Team Marketing and Business Operations , or “TeamBo”.  Granger explained the NBA’s concept of “teamnet”, in which all 30 teams share ideas and best practices in order to create value for consumers in every market.  He, like Stern, iterated that management, not market size, was the primary determinant of team success.  Another interesting topic of conversation was dynamic food and beverage pricing, in which arenas equipped with digital menu boards are able to strategically modify concession prices at different times before or during the game.  In the cleanup spot was EVP of Production, Programming and Broadcasting, Danny Meiseles.  Meiseles discussed the NBA’s efforts to ensure production consistency across all its platforms and broadcasting partners, including TNT, ESPN and the Olympics.  Last up was EVP of Basketball Operations and former Duck, Stu Jackson.  Fearing fines or suspensions, we steered clear of the tougher questions, but managed to talk about the NBA’s increasing focus on data collection and analytics and how that will impact future business decisions.  For the Warsaw students, this was an unbelievable opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in sports.  Hopefully this great experience will lead to some of us being in their shoes someday soon.

 

– Tim Dobyns, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA ’12

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.