By: Darren Heitner
Published on October 21, 2013
Last week, the University of Michigan hosted the 2nd Annual Michigan Sport Business Conference, which was held at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. The day-long event featured undergraduate and graduate students, aspiring sports business professionals, and seasoned veterans from all across the industry. The 32-member team, led by Co-Presidents Michael Freedman and David Herman, put on a great conference that hopefully will become one of the industryʼs ʻmust attendʼyearly events.
“When you spend a lot of time planning an event, you want to make sure you have everything covered at all times,” said Michael Freedman, Co-President of the Michigan Sport Business Conference. “The Michigan Network, as well as our Board of Advisors, helped us get the speakers, but it was up to each team member to make sure the production and execution were perfect. Sitting there while Adam Schefter was talking, I was able to take a deep breath of relief and feel an overwhelming sense of pride of what our team did.
Freedman added: “Iʼm very happy with how the event went. VP Marketing Joey Fox and his team did a great job to get the seats filled, while Jeremy Ross and his team executed the day of production seamlessly. When you have a group of all-stars committed to one cause, you donʼt have to worry about much.”
The three group panels — The Global Reach of Sport, Sport Presidency, and Brand Expansion Through Sport — along with the Keynote Speaker, ESPN President, John Skipper, all provided the students and sports business professionals with a 360 degree view of the current state of sport. The conference concluded with a surprise call-in from ESPNʼs NFL Insider, Adam Schefter, to answer a few questions from the attendees.
Below are 10 of the high-level takeaways from John Skipperʼs Keynote, which was moderated
by ESPN Announcer, Mike Tirico.
1. ESPNʼs mission statement is ʻTo Serve Sports Fansʼ; Skipper strongly believes in short,
crisp, and easy-to-remember mission statements.
2. According to Skipper, sports is the most important and valuable segment within the
entertainment and media world.
3. ESPNʼs brand statement is ʻSports with Authority and Personalityʼ.
4. Only 87 people who are women or people of color work in the national media. 60 work at
5. Over 90% of national sportswriters are white males.
6. ESPN wants to do 60,000 hours of content in 2014, with 1,000 of those hours being
7. Women comprise 30% of ESPNʼs audience.
8. ESPN is no longer concerned with producing television. Rather, it is all about producing
content that plays on a video screen
9. ESPN strives to find sports fans…anytime, anywhere.
10. One of the ugliest aspects of sports is fans who have no perspective
Below are 15 of the best takeaways, both advice-related and industry-related, from the
1. The move toward digital ticketing is perhaps inevitable. A number of teams are
experimenting with different features.
2. Teams must provide connectivity and enable consumers to be part of something much
bigger than just attending the games.
3. Having WI-FI at sporting events/football games is going to be like electricity; soon,
everyone will have it.
4. Sports is the biggest relationship industry in America.
5. Generating content for viewers is still the name of the game; the medium through which
viewers consume (television, tablet, phone, etc.) does not matter.
6. Learning how to write — regardless of where you might work in the sports world — is
arguably one of the best skill-sets to master.
7. Relationships are not built through text messaging; they are built through personal
contact. In other words, face-to-face interaction is the best form of connecting with other
sports business professionals.
8. Look for the National Hockey League to conduct regular season games in Europe in the
near future, with the Detroit Red Wings being a part of that; at the same time, the NFL
continues to increase the number of games being played overseas.
9. The days of spots and dots are over. Brands want meaningful connections and activation.
10. Sports give companies an excuse/permission to enter peoplesʼ lives.
11. Much talk about how teams can enhance fansʼ gameday experience from the time they
leave their home until the time they return; teams then need to look at lifestyle marketing.
12. Three keys to success: business acumen, innovation, and pure hard work.
13. A handful of speakers reiterated that the best way to break into the sports industry is
14. Job/internship advice — Excel at whatever it is you do. Have a proven track record of
success to get hired.
15. Emotional capital cannot be replicated with in-home viewers.