Eight student members of Niagara University’s Sport Management Association traveled to Tampa, Fla., from March 24-29 to gain insight into the sport management industry. They were accompanied by Dr. Cheryl Rode, assistant professor of sport and recreation management.

On March 25, the group toured Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of South Florida Bulls football team. Known for the iconic pirate ship that lies on its north end, the stadium has played host in the past to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship and two Super Bowls (XXXV and XLIII), and is also scheduled to host Super Bowl LV in February 2021.

From March 26-27, the students participated in the fifth annual Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference, held on the campus of the University of South Florida. With a theme of “Storytelling with Data,” the conference allowed the students to see how analytics have developed and the intersection between sports and analytics from a business perspective.

“The conference was very informational and was well worth it,” said freshman Skyler Jessup. “I learned about different parts and organizations of the sport industry, and I think that my experience at the conference will contribute to my future.”

Justina Conti, president of the Sport Management Association, was impressed with how the conference was laid out compared to similar conferences the group has been a part of in past years.

“I believe that the conference was well-organized and had a different approach to it compared to other conferences we have attended in the past as a club, let alone our conference (the Niagara University Sport, Recreation and Tourism Summit) we put on every year,” she said.

This year’s set of speakers came from a variety of national and international organizations, including the International Speedway Corporation, PGA Tour, Tampa Bay Lightning, Turner Sports, and the Miami Dolphins. Cory Bernstine, senior manager of marketing strategy and research with Minor League Baseball (MiLB), was the speaker who resonated with Jessup the most.

“He spoke about the minor leagues and the different parts of the minors, which made me very interested in working in minor league baseball,” Jessup said. “In addition, he was very personable and approachable, and his segments of the panel were very entertaining.”

Conti hopes the students were able to get a deeper understanding of the value analytics can have.

“I hope that they were able to learn more on the specific topic of analytics and grew to appreciate and acknowledge the different ways analytics can play within the sport world and how it affects our jobs no matter where our specialty lands us,” she said.

Wrapping the trip on a fun note, the students spent following day at Busch Gardens Tampa before embarking back home to New York.

To be selected for the trip, the students had to submit an application and resume before undergoing an interview process.

Niagara University’s Sport Management Association was formed in September 2014 and currently has more than 30 members. The club endeavors to help all students with a passion for sport management engage in a variety of events, including networking opportunities, so that they can thrive upon graduation.

Greg Jubert is a 2019 Niagara University graduate who graduated with a double major in sport management and communication studies.

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