The Lessons Behind The Business Of Sports
Teachers are always looking for new and creative ways to allow their students to connect to the course work they’re studying. For Granville Business Department teacher Terry Wheeler, finding subjects that help underline core lessons his students are learning in math and English language arts classes comes in the form of the popular Sports Management program.
The half-year elective has been offered in the fall for the past five school years, and Mr. Wheeler believes it’s helped students better understand the complexities of the sports industry. More importantly, he believes it’s providing an opportunity to students in Granville High School to explore a subject they’re passionate about.
“If you want to keep your curriculum interesting, you have to find the things that interest your students,” said Mr. Wheeler. “The professional sports industry keeps growing every year between endorsement deals, active programming, and daily fantasy sports. It makes their fans feel like they’re part of the team experience. There are so many business lessons in there to explore.”
While the class takes an inside approach to looking at the business side of sports, it does tie in important lessons being taught in the high school’s core math and ELA classrooms. The class is also teaching students business lingo and is helping them understand the role clear and concise communication plays when it comes to operating within the structure of a business or company.
“All business and marketing transactions require math and language,” Mr. Wheeler said. “We use math to build budgets, estimate marketing expenses, determine available staffing levels, estimate concession product levels, and determine the profitability of events in the future. No matter how good you are with numbers, though, if you can’t speak in a manner that is confident and persuasive, you will not be a successful business entity.”
Throughout the semester, students participate in simulations that task them with starting their venture from the ground floor and working their way up. The simulation also provides real time feedback to students if there’s an area of the stadium or business that is lacking or hurting relationships with customers. For example, ticket pricing, staffing, and concessions are three key components that could drive fans away from attending a game or concert at the student-created venue if the price point or staffing levels aren’t matching the needs of the customer.
Students are encouraged to explore non-event avenues for supporting their businesses. Sponsorship deals and promotions are key components of the project and help students understand how to market themselves. Students also evaluate the performance of the team and the players, but Mr. Wheeler feels having a deeper understanding of the business behind the roster helps his class appreciate the performance on the field even more.
“I believe that my students get a sense of what administration entails when you are responsible for every detail of your business from top to bottom. How these details all fit together and how everything matters carries over into every aspect of their lives.”
One thing Mr. Wheeler emphasizes when it comes to building lesson plans for the class ahead of each school year is taking a step back and looking at industry factors that may have changed from one year to another. He adds making sure the class is able to evolve as the industry evolves only helps his students better understand the landscape they’re studying.
“Everything is possible with a sports management background. Everything these students learn in this class can be applied to their own lives, future employment, small businesses, investments, brand development, and marketing an event. These are all valuable, dynamic 21st-century skills, and that is all just good business.”