Enter the Sports Business Laboratory - Your Sports Career Will Thank You

Masters in Sports business at NYU
A laboratory can take on many forms
Picture a laboratory and the first thing that comes to mind is a sealed off room with fluorescent lights, expensive equipment and lab coats - lots and lots of lab coats. But in its most general and abstract sense a laboratory can be thought of as a location based incubator, where everything you need to grow and learn is in one geographically convenient spot.

In the world of sports business there is no greater laboratory than New York City, the home of professional sports teams, league offices, agents, non-profits, governing bodies, marketing agencies and more.

Every business related to sports has a presence in the city that never sleeps, which is one of the great advantages of the New York University Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business.

“Being located in the heart of New York City is huge for us,” says Wayne McDonnell, Academic Chair and Clinical Associate Professor, NYU Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. “Our students can take an 8 am class, hop on the subway to go to their internship at the MLS league offices, for example, gain real world experience until 4pm and then hop back on the subway and take a class at 6.

NYU ticsh school of sports business
Wayne McDonnell
“That is an experience afforded our students that is unique to our school and surroundings.”

The perfect location isn’t just convenient for the graduate students attending NYU, it also makes it easier to attract some of the biggest names in sports business to find their way to campus and guest lecture.

“We created a speaker series, intimate gatherings for our students and some of the biggest names in sports in the area,” adds McDonnell. “Sandy Montag [sports media agent representing everyone from Bob Costas to Erin Andrews] came and spoke to 70 of our students, John Fillippelli [President of Programming and Production at YES Network], Val Ackerman [Commissioner of the Big East Conference] these giants of sports business come in and meet with a group of our students, fielding questions and telling their stories. It’s easy for them to come in, stay for a short period, then can get back to their main jobs.”

Students attending NYU in pursuit of their Master’s in Sports Business can gain proficiency in professional and collegiate sports operations, sports marketing and sales, global sports media and sports law. The common thread between all of these disciplines is a focus on the financials of the industry.

“I’m of the belief that finance, accounting and economics is the backbone of the business of sports,” says McDonnell. “Young men and women with an eye on a career in sports management tend to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance and the passion of being a fan. Initially they forget this is a multi-billion dollar industry, which means you have to understand balance sheets as much as you need to know how to calculate ERA.

“We tell our students when they first enroll, someday you’ll be a manager of a department with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves - community relations, public relations, marketing, broadcasting – and you are going to have to be able to read an income statement. You are going to have to understand how your operating costs affected your bottom line, and know what is expected of you from the front office.

“When you finish here you will handle these issues with proficiency.”

Convincing a group of students that number crunching and financial analysis is their ticket into the sports industry isn’t always an easy sell.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

“We recognize finance is the unsexy and unglamourous aspect of sports, but it’s the backbone of the industry. Most people don’t appreciate the financial aspects of sports, but our alumni report back to us that while they didn’t appreciate it while they were learning it in the classroom, they love the fact we taught it to them because they put those skills to use every day.”

McDonnell knows of what he speaks, having previously worked as a financial analyst and staff accountant at the Madison Square Garden company before entering academia. Now, his courses emphasize financial understanding, but he realizes it may take a bit to get his student son board.

“We kind of ease our students into the mindset of being more than just a sports fan. We don’t start freshman out with Sports Management Accounting, or else we could lose them quickly. We find it takes students about a year to get adjusted to being on the business side of sports as opposed to being a fan.

“Most start out wanting to be sports agents or GM’s, no one wants to be the CFO of the Dodgers. But as they get exposed to more parts of the industry, they see there are more avenues they can pursue in the sports career. By the time you graduate, you will have acquired a much deeper understanding of the complex financial transactions that are a part of marketing, facility management, and player development – it’s all connected.

“Bottom line, we’re teaching our students skills that are transferrable to any walk of life, maybe not the most glamorous, but undoubtedly the most important.”

For more information on the Masters in Sports Business degree from the New York University Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business click here.
By Brian Clapp | December 05, 2016
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