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New course explores the business of sports
There are times when a casual conversation can spark an innovative idea. Such was the case early on in Dean Larry M. Benveniste’s tenure when he mentioned to Steve Walton, associate professor in the practice of decision and information analysis, the details of a meeting with Arthur Blank. Blank is the well-known owner & CEO of the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Force football teams, co-founder of The Home Depot, Inc, and an executive-in-residence at Goizueta. He and Dean Benveniste had discussed ways in which Goizueta, the Falcons, and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation could collaborate.
Without hesitation, Walton followed up on the challenge. But what approach would be best? Should it be an internship, a sports management class, a project class? Why not, as Walton decided, combine all three and create something unprecedented?
|Rich McKay, president and general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, shares insights with students in the new sports management class.
Aptly titled “Sports, Management, and the Atlanta Falcons,” the year-long class mixes intellectual content with access to influential leaders both within the Falcons’ organization and from outside, such as the EVP of the NFL, Jeff Pash; Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment; and Paul Fireman, founder of Reebok. In addition, the class offers experiential project work that includes teamwork, problem-solving competitions, and the implementation of solutions.
“This class allows students to view the business of sports from all angles,” notes Blank. “Through academic study, the insights of guest lecturers, and the opportunity to get involved in real-world issues, students of this program gain valuable knowledge and experience. At the same time, the Falcons benefit from the involvement of some of Emory’s brightest business students.”
From September through November the class takes an intellectual bent, addressing such topics as team ownership, revenue streams, labor relations, and facility management. Guest speakers, including Blank himself, offer an inside look into each of the topics.
Once armed with information, the students begin the project work, chosen by the Falcons to solve real-life issues. From November through February, six teams comprised of six students—three MBA and three BBA students—focus on creating a solution. In February the teams will merge and, through the end of the class, work on implementing the best solutions.
Along with evaluations by both Walton and the Falcons, the thirty-six students will take part in grading one another. “It’s one of the ribbons of the class,” says Walton. He believes the fellow-student grading aspect promotes cooperation. “It’s easy to lead people like you,” adds Walton. “The value is in understanding how to lead those not like you.”
Alumni Sports Business Group
The newly formed Goizueta Sports Business Alumni Association (GSBAA) is issuing an initial call for members. GSBAA is looking for anyone who works in sports or whose job relates to sports.
The GSBAA aims to
1) connect Goizueta alumni who work in sports
2) provide a forum for professional enrichment
3) promote collaboration among its members
4) give back to Goizueta through mentorship and speaking engagements
If you would like to join or have any questions, please contact David Schoenberg 03BBA at DavidRSchoenberg@gmail.com.