Hitting a walk off home run, draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer or catching a 'Hail Mary' pass in front of thousands of adoring fans may not live anywhere but in your dreams.
The truth is, only ½ of 1% of US citizens will go on to be professional athletes and even have a chance at achieving that sense of glory.
But before you start feeling bad for the end of your professional sports pursuits, realize a Sports Management degree can allow mere mortals to get very close to the triumphs and accolades that only sports can provide.
Some Sports Management programs have come under fire in recent years for not truly preparing their students with the skills needed to survive in the competitive world of sports business.
A Different Type of Sports Management Program
One program is very different in their approach - and their results.
“Our Sport Management program is not based on the traditional model found at most schools,” says Michael Lysko, Director and Professor of Practice for the Sport Management Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU). “The biggest difference is that our faculty are all former executives from a wide range of sports industry segments. They all have advanced degrees and significant teaching experience. Most importantly however, is that they each have more than 20 years of sports business experience, which provides them with a level of insight and personal connections that they are able to share with the students.”
The one-year Masters of Science in Sports Management (MSSM) program at SMU takes a real world learning approach, with hands-on internship experiences, case studies and exposure to professors who haven’t been locked in a classroom for decades, instead they have been out in the field working and gaining real experience. Lysko himself fields phone calls on a weekly basis from sports industry executives around the country looking for good candidates for internships and full-time jobs.
An Emphasis on What Matters Most
The focus of the SMU Master’s degree is almost exclusively on sports business, which allows graduates to pursue senior level management positions in the multi-billion dollar sports industry.
“Our MSSM business courses are taught by full-time faculty at the Cox School of Business, one of the top business schools in the country,” adds Lysko. “Our curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, and strong relationships with sports organizations across the nation, ensure that our students are able to ‘hit the ground running’ upon graduation in whatever segment of the industry they pursue.”
Employers today are seeking more than just a high GPA and involvement in on-campus clubs, they require all of their hires to have the requisite skills and experience to make an immediate impact on their business, the MSSM program at SMU provides students with both.
“Providing valuable marketing and sales experience for our students is a priority,” says Lysko, former commissioner of the Canadian Football League and current Director of SMU Sports Management.
“Last spring, we convinced Intersport to host the 26th Annual ESPN State Farm College Slam Dunk at the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum at SMU during the NCAA Final Four weekend. Our sport management students were directly responsible for the marketing, promotion and ticket sales, selling more than $10,000 of tickets to the event.”
A Geographical Advantage
The location adds to the overall impact of the SMU Masters program.
Based in Dallas, a top-five sports market, SMU Sports Management students are afforded unparalleled access to championship level sports teams and organizations.
“Through guest speaker appearances, symposia, field trips, consulting projects, student mentoring and internships, students have access to major professional sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars,” declares Lysko. “The DFW Metroplex boasts multiple Division I colleges, several minor league franchises, two PGA Tour stops, and world-class facilities such as the American Airlines Center, AT&T Stadium and one of the country’s top NASCAR tracks in Texas Motor Speedway.
“Our region is also home to three conference headquarters: The Big 12 Conference, Conference USA and The Southland Conference, as well as the National Football Foundation, and the newly formed College Football Playoff headquarters.”
Professional sports teams and collegiate conferences aren’t the only sports businesses within reach of the Dallas area according to Lysko.
“Dallas is also headquarters to many blue-chip corporate sponsors and leading sports agencies such as, The Marketing Arm, Genesco Sports, Hawkeye Sports & Entertainment and Haymaker, which now serves as the North American sponsorship consulting arm for Lagardere Unlimited.
“Our students have been involved with events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star game and the NCAA Men’s Final Four, just a few of the events that DFW has hosted in recent years,”
Upon graduating from the one-year program, students are prepared for a variety of possible career paths including:
Management of professional, collegiate or amateur sport organizations
Representation of professional athletes
Sport public relations
Sport facility and event management
For more information on the SMU Masters of Science in Sports Management program, follow this link.
And remember, nobody made it big by sitting on the sidelines.
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