Going Global in the Sports Industry with Alicia Marinelli, CEO, Living Sport

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the WorkInSports podcast. 

There are two major assumptions that Americans tend to make about sports.  

  1. The big four – baseball, football, basketball, and hockey - are the only sports that matter. 
  2. Sports happen within our borders, except the rare occasion of the Summer and Winter Olympics. 

I get it, American exceptionalism and all, but can we all, at least on this show, agree these are falsehoods? 

I love and appreciate the big four sports as much as anyone, but I refuse to submit to the premise that they ARE the sports industry. That’s it, just those four.  

If sports represent activities involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment, and the industry comprises any one of thousands of roles surrounding these activities – our industry is much larger than say U.S. based basketball coach.  

In sports, there are no boundaries. It’s a meritocracy. Whoever performs the best, while executing within the established rules – plays. Same in the vein of work, whoever performs the best, executes plans, supports initiatives – thrives.  

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again today, working is sports is a competitive choice. As a sports job candidate, you must actively think to yourself, “How can I make myself the best of the competition? What else can I do?” 

One suggestion – go global.  

Imagine for a second you have relevant international experience. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer, trying to hire the best, most talented, staff. Would someone who worked in Barcelona for a bike race, or Milan for a marathon stand out to you? 

It’s not the big four sports, and it’s not within the US border – so does it matter? Of course it does, in fact it’s impressive. 

But how? How would you achieve this kind of game changing experience?  

Living Sport. 

7-10 international study abroad trips where it isn’t all just tours and sightseeing, it’s work. The kind of work that will find its way onto your resume, broaden your horizons and alter your perspective for life.     

Who better to explain this amazing program that CEO and Founder Alicia Marinelli, this week's high energy, let’s get after it, guest. 

Questions for Alicia Marinelli, CEO, Living Sport

1: Before we get into the entrepreneurial side of your personality and dig deep into Living Sport, let’s go back to your beginning a bit – when and why did you decide working in sports was your path?

2: In sports we often talk about the need to relocate and move to where the best opportunities are. In your career you jumped from smaller, more rural Pennsylvania to NYC to work for the Madison Square Garden company. How important is it as a job seeker to have a mindset where you are willing to relocate, and what do you remember most about this massive shift for you personally?

3: At Madison Square Garden company, you worked in event presentation with the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty – an amazing, and I’d imagine pretty cool, opportunity. These iconic sports brands really have the best practices down, they work like well-oiled machines – what did you learn from this experience that still serves you well in your role today?

4: Count me as a massive fan of Minor League Baseball when it comes to gaining real world work experience. You spent three years as the Manager of Sponsorship Services with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Triple A affiliate of the Phillies – why is Minor League Baseball such a unique and valuable place to work?

5: We all know the importance of internship programs, they represent what should be an incredible way to gain industry relevant experience. But not all internships are the same, you’ve built and designed internship programs – in your view, what should a good internship opportunity look like?  

6: What about on the bad side -- what have you seen out of internship programs that are flawed and out of touch, and how can a student identify this before it’s too late?

7: Ok, let’s get into Living Sport --- October 2016 you decide to launch Living Sport – why? Why was this the logical step for you in your career journey?

8: I’m sure many in our audience are familiar with what Living Sport does, but for those who aren’t, explain it, tell us more about the mission and purpose of Living Sport.

9: Are the students travelling, touring and getting exposed to international sports, or are they on the job getting work experience? (give an example)

10: Who are the ideal candidates for your programs? Do the programs lean into certain sports specific disciplines like marketing, sales or operations? 

11: I never studied abroad in high school or college because the programs were cost prohibitive – how are you able to make these international learning opportunities affordable so that they can be as inclusive as possible?

12: I’ve interviewed many sports connected people over my career, and I’ve always believed there is a massive disconnect between what higher education provides vs. what employers need and want. Why haven't more schools and education programs caught on to the idea of real-world experience being what matters most and focusing in that direction?

13: LivingSport clearly provides this real-world learning opportunity, tell me about your success stories – have students that have engaged in your program found real-world success?

14: Networking isn’t just vertical, it’s not just with directors and managers, it’s horizontal with peers as well. In your program you are bringing together focused students from across the nation -- How important is it for these young people to carry their relationships beyond your 7-10 day events?

15: We’ll finish up with this – as you’ve gone through almost 5 years of Living Sport events, you’ve seen and met many of today’s sports management students, and you’ve seen many become successful.  What would you identify as the key skill or trait that directly correlates to industry success? Is there a pattern? 

By Brian Clapp | May 05, 2021
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