I always try to stay involved with our local sports teams here in Minnesota. By keeping my pulse on the industry, I can provide better knowledge, guidance and mentorship for my sports management students. It’s also a great way to keep my eye out for potential opportunities. Last winter an idea came to mind when I was at TwinsFest, a fundraiser put together by the Twins Community Fund.
This idea was sparked by Dave Horsman, Senior Director of Ballpark Operations for Target Field and the Minnesota Twins. He filled me in on a number of exciting developments taking place in Major League Baseball such as the MLB Greening Program. This was a perfect chance to develop the first-ever pilot course in which MLB has worked with our university.
Sports Sustainability Education
What made this course unique was that students worked directly with MLB in promoting sustainability throughout their All-Star festivities. By demonstrating waste management efforts before, during and after the events, our 36 students were able to educate fans about the importance of the league’s Greening Program. We partnered with the University of Illinois who brought 22 students of their own to complete our Green Team.
The objectives of the course were simple: to educate students about the importance of sustainability in sports and to understand why MLB decided to take on environmental issues league-wide. Many of its ballparks are installing solar panels and fuel cells, sorting compostable materials from recyclables and updating filtration systems. Our students were fortunate enough to tour not one but two Silver LEED® Certified stadiums right here in Minnesota. They studied the storm water management systems and energy-efficient lighting, among other sustainable initiatives, that both Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium have implemented. Our campus at the University of Minnesota has also installed sustainable drinking water stations with water bottle faucets around campus as part of our sustainability program under the direction of Shane Stennes.
Students Make a Splash at the All-Star Festivities
While there was work to be done leading up to All-Star Week, the hands-on nature of this course was all about the festivities. Students represented MLB at the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Gillette Home Run Derby, T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, The Color Run MLB All-Star 5k, the Target All-Star Concert presented by Budweiser and the All-Star Game itself.
Integrating the sustainability theme of our course even further, students utilized the Green Line transit system to travel to event venues during the week, but what they did at each event is what the course was all about. Sporting their All-Star Green Team hats, t-shirts and gloves, students grabbed their color-coded waste bags provided by MLB and went to work between innings through the aisles, helping fans recycle and manage their recyclable and compostable waste. It was great to see them get recognized with a well-deserved, stadium-wide round of applause during the fifth inning of each in-stadium event.
Earlier in the week at the Target All-Star Concert presented by Budweiser, half of the students had similar recycling responsibilities to keep TCF Bank Stadium clean while the other half had some fun before working The Color Run MLB All-Star 5k the next day. Students enjoyed the interactions and experiences they shared with fans and appreciated what their local sports team and Major League Baseball was doing for the environment. This hands-on experience was very important to our students and will set them apart from others entering the sports management industry.
Tips for Students Interested in Sports Management Careers
- Get involved. Check out any opportunity available from your school or one of the major sports teams in your area. Volunteer for charity sporting events, enroll in sports-related courses and reach out to your local sports teams for opportunities you may not have known about. With sports, it’s important to be proactive.
- Apply for internships and entry level jobs. Whether you apply to be on a facilities team, part of a local paper or local television network, there are so many opportunities to look for in markets with multiple professional and/or collegiate sports teams. Other opportunities can include Special Olympics, Coach Alliance or game day events.
- Start building your resume early. There are few career paths more competitive than the sports industry. Build a foundation for pursuing a sports management or marketing career and start early in your college career. Graduating students with little to no experience often have trouble in the job market when competing against students who have been involved from day one.
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