Friday, February 26, 2010

SDSU vs. USD Baseball Game

Last night a group of classmates from SMBA '11 went to the San Diego State versus the cross-town University of San Diego baseball game at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the SDSU campus. The Aztecs were able to beat the #19 USD baseball team 5-2 thanks to suberb pitching from Addison Reed and a home crowd of more than 600 people.

SMBA '11 had fun cheering on the home squad and even appeared on the JumboTron a few times. It helped that there were a number of promotions for the baseball team, including free double hamburgers from In N Out for a double play, free breadsticks for all fans, and free tickets with a student ID.

It was a much deserved break from studying for Statistics.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Volunteering in San Francisco

By Oumar Ganame (SMBA '11)

This week I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) for the Mexico vs. Bolivia soccer game at Candlestick Park. SUM is the preeminent Soccer Marketing firm in North America and works closely with the USSF, the Mexican National Team, and the MLS to organize numerous high-quality soccer games here on U.S. soil. SUM’s biggest draw, the Mexican National Team, regularly draws sell-out crowds all over the U.S. as it continues its preparation for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

My main involvement was with SUM’s Football Fiesta event outside the stadium. For four hours before game time, sponsors have tents and displays outside the stadium to draw in fans. These sponsors include Home Depot, AT&T, Coca Cola, NAPA Auto Parts, Budweiser, Makita, Adidas, Cacique, and Wrigley. Telemundo and the San Jose Earthquakes also set up stands for the event. While miserable weather claimed most of Tuesday’s set-up, game day turned out to be a much more pleasant affair. Thousands of fans flooded into the Fiesta for some incredible giveaways and even more impressive interactive events. Fans that strayed away from their tailgates had an incredible experience at the Fiesta thanks to the sponsors.

I was somewhat amazed to see the level of excitement (and sometimes chaos) of the event. Mexican National Team soccer games are unlike any sporting event in the United States. Fans are extremely passionate about their team and that enthusiasm carries from the tailgates, through the Fiesta, and into the stadium. Noisemakers and drums are commonplace and the level of excitement fills the entire arena.

Once the game kicked off the two teams looked to put on an amazing show. But with the Mexican National Team scoring early, they quickly proved to be the far superior team. By the 20th minute the team had already built up a 4-0 lead which it carried into the half. The early success only riled up the crowd even more and the team finished with a 5-0 win. SUM’s first event of the year was clearly a huge success and upcoming events at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles and at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte should be just as popular.

The San Diego Hall of Champions

The San Diego Hall of Champions is an American multi-sport museum in located in the Federal Building in Balboa Park. Here, they recognize outstanding athletic accomplishments and traditions involving more than 42 sports and honors athletes both on and off San Diego's playing surfaces. Most of the SMBA '11 class has already worked with the Hall of Champions on event this year (i.e. The Elite Eight Basketball Tournament and Salute to the Champions).

Today, we were able to hear from two of the important members of the Hall of Champions' team: President Alan Kidd and Marketing Director Angela LaChica.

Kidd discussed how he worked hard to earn his dream job, build a successful business, and then improve the San Diego Hall of Champions (while not collecting a salary during his first year as President). He urged the SMBA '11 class to help the Hall of Champions and even personally handed out his business card to all 34 of us.

LaChica's discussion was just as insightful. She spoke more about presenting ourselves well and keeping in mind that we represent our classmates, our school, and the Hall of Champions. She then discussed the hardships of being female in an industry dominated by males.

If the SMBA '11 class is looking for mentors, then Kidd and LaChica are a good place to start.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Speaker: Lisa Jenkins from IMG

Today, Lisa Jenkins (SMBA '05) traveled from Los Angeles to speak to us about her role at IMG: Director of Events for IMG Action Sports. Her main focus is on working with triathlons, despite having little personal interest in the sport.

Lisa was very different from a number of our typical guest speakers. She had us do a number of exercises to learn about ourselves and our goals, which including lining up in alphabetical order by middle name (oh, and the female part of the class could not talk). This all led to Lisa giving us advice on how to capitalize on our year in the SMBA and how to build our resumes to reach our dream job.

Lisa spoke about gaining knowledge, skills, credibility, personal development, and value in the next nine months. Then, she urged us to help our fellow classmates out, use the Alumni network, continuously update our resume, organize group dinners, and to read outside of class.

Needless to say, the SMBA '11 was motivated after Lisa's presentation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

64th Annual Salute to the Champions

Once again, volunteering for the High School Basketball Tournament on January 18th reaped rewards for some of the SMBA '11 class. The San Diego Hall of Champions invited some of the class to volunteer for the 64th Annual Salute to the Champions held at the Town and Country Resort Hotel. The event honors amateur and professional athletes in and from the San Diego area.

As volunteers, the SMBA '11 were in charge of collecting presenters and award receipents for the whole evening. The award receipents ranged from the young (the 2009 Little League World Series' champs from Chula Vista) to the inspiring (paraplegic Olympian Oscar Chavez) to the well-known (Greg Louganis, Philip Rivers, David Wells).

Overall, it was a fantastic evening put on by the Hall of Champions and San Diego Sports Commission. As always, our class was happy to help, especially since it resulted in photos with some of San Diego's best athletes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Case Competition

By Jessica Ceresino (SMBA '11)

Friday marked the end of the 5th annual Sports MBA Case Competition hosted by the San Diego State Sports Business Management MBA program and the San Diego Padres. The event, held at Petco park, featured teams representing the University of Columbia, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Georgetown University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Michigan, New York University and San Diego State University.

The four years prior featured cases focusing on current sports and social issues. This year the case focused on gaining revenue for the Padres, which was a unique opportunity because the teams were actually able to present to the Chief Operating Officer and President of the San Diego Padres, Tom Garfinkle. Additionally, Jeff Moorad, the owner of the Padres, sat in on one of the presentations, adding an element of surprise and pressure to the teams. The rest of the judging panel included Laura Broderick, Senior Vice President of Brand Development for the Padres, Katie Pothier, General Counsel for the Padres and Dr. Martina Musteen from the Department of Management at San Diego State University. All of the presentations were creative and well-received by the judges.

The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business team of Hale Simon, Pierce Reeves, James Ou and Rob Johnson placed first in the competition. Tom Garfinkle posed a unique question to most of the teams and he stated that Georgetown’s team “fielded the question well.” He asked them if they would trade Adrian Gonzalez, the All-Star and low-cost first baseman for the Padres. They stuck with a more neutral position and simply pointed out the risks and the rewards of both sides of the decision. Garfinkle also gave an honorable mention to University of Pennsylvania team member Kat O’Brien for her response to the same question.
The University of Columbia Business School team of A.D. Bhatia, William Kuhn and Adam Miller tied for second place with San Diego State University’s Sports MBA program team of Matt Hiler, Melanie Harris, Lindsey Finnegan, and Kaiser Tse.

After Tom Garfinkle and Jeff Moorad both addressed the MBA’s, Garfinkle read a letter he had written for the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig. He concluded by ensuring that many of the ideas the teams presented throughout the day were already being considered and even implemented. This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to gain real-life opportunity with major executives in the MLB, as well as a fantastic opportunity for the Padres to gain some creative strategies to better the organization.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SMBA '11 Volunteers at Case Competition

The SMBA '11 class took a break from studying to assist at the first day of the Case Competition. Photos are courtesy of Emily Nakayama (SMBA '11).

Case Competition Starts Today!

One of the highlights of the year started today: the 5th Annual San Diego State International Sports MBA Case Competition. This year's event is being held at PETCO Park and top MBA teams from around the world are competing to develop the best strategies for a sports business issue.

Read more about the annual Case Competition:

Case Competition

This year's case is about our host organizatoin, the San Diego Padres! The teams come from SDSU, Columbia, Georgetown, Hong Kong Science & Technology, Michigan, NYU, UCLA, USC and Wharton.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Outcasts United

Greg Moore (SMBA ’11)

We were fortunate enough to have author Warren St. John in class today to discuss his national-bestselling title, Outcasts United. The book examines the town of Clarkston, Georgia, which transformed from sleepy southern town outside Atlanta to a unique mixture of racial diversity once it was designated a refugee center in the 1990s. St. John reports the story of Clarkston through the eyes of Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who starts a youth soccer team to unify the town’s refugee children.

St. John told us of his experiences while spending 6 months in Clarkston with the many refugee families, Coach Luma, and with the team affectionately labeled the ‘Fugees’. His efforts resulted in this book, but also in a multi-piece article for The New York Times. As St. John said when explaining his choice in covering the Fugees to tell the story of Clarkston, “Sports causes people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. Sports are a truth serum. People reveal things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t.”

Outcasts United beautifully tells the story about how children from war zones in Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan come together through the teachings of their fiery female coach. St. John captures the Georgia town’s struggle to adapt and his time with the Fugees continues today. He still stays in touch with some of the families and, of course, Coach Luma, via Skype and phone calls.

Since I spent 5 years in book publishing and graduated with a Journalism degree, Warren St. John's story was especially compelling. It was an honor to hear first-hand from St. John, especially when he reinforced the idea of the power of sports and how it can transform even the smallest of towns.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scott Tinley's Course

Scott Tinley, two-time Ironman World Champion and Sports in Society professor for the SMBA, will teach his first class to our SMBA class on Wednesday. In the meantime, Greg Moore, SMBA '11, helped Tinley with this article for San Diego News Network:

How to Get a San Diego Job in Sports

Tinley's course for the SMBA is unique in that it is the only class that will run the length of the course.

Accounting's 40-Yard Dash

Our BA 650 Accounting class had an interesting twist today. After Professor DeBoskey assigned seven General Managers for our semester-long group projects, the team that would have just 4 members had yet to be determined. Naturally, a 40-yard dash in the parking lot was going to decide the 4-member squad.

Tana Prosper, Oumar Ganame, Demian Reyes, Katie Araujo, Rebecca Cathcart, and Tariq Virani did their best, but--in the end--Oumar barely beat Tariq. His prize? A financial statements book and the satisfaction of winning. (Photo is courtesy of Victoria Hoe, SMBA '11)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Soccer Nation Expo

By Bailey Alexrod (SMBA '11)

Last weekend, a few students from SMBA '11 had the opportunity to volunteer at the Soccer Nation Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The expo is a free event for soccer fans, containing training sessions from coaches and exhibits from vendors showing off their newest soccer products.

As volunteers, we watched over the Southwest Regional Futsal Tournament. For those who do not know what futsal is, it is a version of soccer played on a smaller, hard-court with only five players per side. The ball is also smaller and deflated slightly to reduce the bounce. The tournament was a two day event, with the winner advancing to the Futsal National Championships. There were all age divisions for girls and boys, and it was a very exciting version of soccer to watch. For people that complain that soccer is not exciting enough and doesn't have enough goals, futsal is a great alternative because it is fast-paced with a lot of goals scored.

Another part of the volunteering opportunity was watching over the VIP areas around the center pitch of the Expo. On this center pitch they had informative training sessions by coaches from some of the greatest clubs around the world. These clubs included Liverpool (England), FC Cologne(Germany), Boca Jr's (Argentina), and even a former U.S. National Team coach. They showed attendees different techniques and tactics to improve their skills.

The Expo was a great volunteering opportunity that gave students a chance to network with companies involved in soccer. We look forward to many more great opportunities presented to us through the Sports MBA program.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sports Business Journal

Since the sports world (especially on the business-side) is always changing, the Sports Business Journal was created to provide people with a one-stop shop of everything to do with sports. The SBJ updates users on sports-business events, the latest sponsor news, and items that might go unnoticed by the general public.

The SBJ is an important tool, so--naturally--we received our subscription today. This, like many other things, is included in the tuition costs.

Friday, February 12, 2010

RoadMap to Asia: The New Golf Frontier

By Luke Epp (SMBA ’11)

This Friday a couple SMBA students had the opportunity to attend the 1st Annual RoadMap to Asia Golf Conference. The conference, which was presented by Golfweek, Asia Golf Monthly, and the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association, focused on the emerging golf market in Asia. Golfweek and Asia Golf Monthly did a tremendous job of fielding a panel of some of the most experienced industry professionals. Among the speakers were: Mark Woodward, the CEO of the GCSAA, Bruce Charlton – President and CEO of Robert Trent Jones Design, Mike Sebastian – Publisher at Asian Golf Monthly, Paul Jones – Managing Partner – Arena KK, Masahiro Kimura – Managing Editor – Golf Digest Japan, and Dennis Allen – President and CEO of Pure Golf TV.

Golf in Asia represents a huge opportunity for many U.S golf companies. The reason for this is due to a few factors: shear population numbers (Asia represents half of the worlds population), globalization, and a growing middle class segment. To give a little perspective, the U.S. has a population of roughly 300 million people, approximately 16,000 golf courses and roughly 26 million golfers. Asia has a population of 3.3 billion and only about 4,000 golf courses. The two countries where the biggest growth is expected are China and India. China currently has 300 golf courses and approximately 300,000 golfers, but it is estimated that in 10 years China could have 10,000 golf courses and a golfing population of 20 million! India currently has 200 courses and approximately 550,000 golfers. India’s steady economic growth and its increasing young middle class make it an alluring market place for the golf industry.

Three recurring themes the panel touched upon when conducting business in the Asian market place were: 1) know the culture and the customs 2) be open-minded and embrace new ways of doing things, and 3) be patient.

The conference was a first-hand experience about how to successfully conduct business in Asia, provided a glimpse at where the future of the golf industry is going, and was an amazing opportunity for SMBA students to network with industry professionals.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SoCal Soccer Panel

By Mariska Roodenrijs (SMBA '11)

Today was the first panel in our classroom: a SoCal Soccer panel consisting of Amie Becker and Scott Dreher from the San Diego SeaLions, Marcus Hanson from LA Galaxy, and Alex Monnar from the San Diego Sockers.

The San Diego WFC SeaLions are a national-caliber women's team that plays in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Established in 1988, San Diego WFC enters its 22nd season in 2009 as one of the oldest female soccer clubs in the U.S. The roster consists of former WUSA professionals, veterans of the top college programs in the country, and local high school prospects. Amie Becker is the general manager of the SeaLions and Scott Dreher is the owner.

Marcus Hanson is an account executive for LA Galaxy. LA Galaxy is one of the biggest and most well-known soccer clubs in the U.S. The San Diego Sockers are one of the most successful indoor soccer teams in several leagues. After an absence since 2004, the Sockers were reintroduced to San Diego in 2009.

After an introduction from the panelists, various questions about the soccer market, opportunities, World Cup, and David Beckham were asked. All the panelists agreed that the soccer market in the U.S. is growing and the media exposure for the industry is growing with it. For example, Fox Soccer Channel will introduce a new channel completely devoted to soccer next month. The U.S. women's national soccer team is extremely successful and the WPSL has recently announced the new league sponsors: Eurosport and This means more media exposure and that is great news for the SeaLions. Alex told us about the newly upgraded stadium, the Del Mar Arena, where the SD Sockers have played since 2009. Indoor soccer is played on a much smaller field and usually has more goals and is, therefore, very exciting to watch.

According to Marcus, the Netherlands is going to win the World Cup, which was a great boost of my day! After a one hour panel, the panelists were bombed with more individual questions about favorite worldwide players, cultural differences, the World Cup, and job opportunities in soccer. Overall, it was a successful way to end the week in the Sports MBA classroom.

How to be a Leader: Taught By a Veteran Himself

By Jodi Hutchinson (SMBA '11)

I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious. - Vince Lombardi

This week wrapped up our second week of leadership class with special guest lecturer Steve Gera. Steve is an SMBA 2007 alumnus and is currently working as a Football Analyst/Assistant Coach for the San Diego Chargers. Before Steve enrolled in the SMBA program he was a Platoon Commander for the United States Marine Corps and served in Iraq. Steve’s leadership class is a great addition to our current class schedule of finance and statistics. Not only is this class going to help us all become more effective leaders, but it is also challenging us to take an honest look at who we are and who we aspire to become. In our first class session with Steve, he reminded us all why we are here. He stressed that not only are we here to learn the business of sports, but in order to be successful in life and in business, we must have the courage and desire to be a leader.

Class sessions are structured around learning the core principles of leadership, discussion of current leadership issues in sports, and discussion of outside readings. Leadership class is teaching us skills that will help us prepare to lead ourselves and each other to battle in the business of sports. The sports industry is considered to be more competitive than other areas of business because what we all learn quickly in this industry is that everyone wants to work in sports! Steve’s class is providing the SMBA '11 students with our own offensive playbook about how to prepare, plan, and execute our core mission: At the end of this year all 34 of us will come out of battle victorious with the job of our dreams!

Upper Deck from Past to Present

By Ryan King (SMBA '11)

This past Thursday, the SMBA class had the opportunity to hear from Jason Masherah, Director of Sports Brands for The Upper Deck Company. Jason began his talk with an overview of how he reached his current position with all the ups and downs that went along with his success, such as working for free. In doing so, he showed us a clip from the movie My Date with Drew. The movie is about a young man's quest to meet Drew Barrymore and how he goes about doing so. Jason equated the sports industry to the movie because it is all about networking and building upon relationships. Jason encouraged us all to check the movie out when we had some free time and to set up as many informational interviews with industry talent as possible.

After talking about getting to get to where we want to go in sports, Jason talked to us about his industry, which is trading cards and memorabilia. Baseball cards date back to 1897 when tobacco companies used cards to promote their product. Over time, many new trading card companies were created. Upper Deck was founded in 1988, with their first line of baseball premium trading cards that included the last so-called “icon” card: the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card released in 1989. By the early 1990’s (Golden era), the card business hit its peak with estimated sales of $1.2 billion and over 5 thousand card shops. By 1994, card companies started going out of business and today there are only three producers of trading cards and sales have fallen to $200 million.

Jason asked our class a simple question, “How many of you collected cards growing up”? More than half of the hands went up in the class. Then he asked us, “How many of you still collect cards?” Not one person raised their hand. What caused this decline and what can be done about it? We learned that the market became saturated with too many products, brands, and that the cost of a pack of cards went from 50 cents to over $5 dollars on certain brands. This drove away the key consumers: children 8-14 and their parents 35 years and older. The decline could also be related to the indirect entertainment competition that is greater now than ever. The youth today have more access to electronics than ever before. When most of our class was collecting cards, a piece of gum or a limited edition card is what we could look forward to in a pack of cards. But today, the industry has become so competitive that Upper Deck began inserting pieces of game-worn jerseys, hair from Kentucky Derby winning horses, and other gimmick related items to sell their product. Upper Deck realizes that to regain some of the trading card allure, it will have to start with the youth. They have already spent over $11 million on youth initiatives. Upper Deck seems to be headed in the right direction related to moving their brand forward.

We also learned that licensing is critical to the future of Upper Deck and the other two trading companies. If one company has control over all products produced they can monopolize that league and the revenue produced from their cards. Upper Deck signed their first exclusive licensing deal with the NHL in 2004 and currently has the rights to MLS and the WPS. Three major leagues (CLS, NHL/NHLPA, NFL/NFLPA) are currently being fought over between Upper Deck, Topps, and Panini. The viability of Upper Deck could be related to landing all three deals. We also learned that Upper Deck is in an interesting place with MLB as it relates to their licensing. MLB just signed an exclusive rights deal with Topps to portray MLB logos and uniforms, but Upper Deck has a deal with MLB’s Players Association and all 1,200 members. The question at hand is how can Upper Deck produce a baseball card without a team name on its jersey and hat? This is a question that Upper Deck is fighting in the court system currently, so Jason could not go into great detail on the topic. Our class really enjoyed the presentation by Jason Masherah judging by the number of questions asked and the dialogue that followed. On behalf of SMBA ’11, I would like to thank Jason for speaking to our class.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First D.R. Fundraising Venture

One of the unique experiences of the SMBA is that the International Business class takes place over a 10-day period in the Dominican Republic. More specifically, the program works with the San Diego Padres top-notch Dominican Republic school to empower the surrounding community through sports and the ideas generated from the SMBA class.

SMBA '11 will be traveling to the D.R. in late June, but there are a number of things we need to accomplish before then. The first being fundraising for the trip and raising money for the D.R. community.

Tonight, our first fundraising opportunity was held at Effin's. We raised a little more than $90 thanks to the support from the Effin's staff. However, we expect to raise more as the weeks progress, especially since we now have a website to aid our efforts (courtesy of Rebecca Cathcart, SMBA '11):

If you have any suggestions on Fundraising ideas or would like to help out, feel free to comment.

Dick Freeman

As an added bonus to our Accounting BA 650 course, Professor Dave Debowski is bringing in Dick Freeman to offer real-world accounting experience. Today was our first class with Dick Freeman, who after serving in the Navy worked his way to Chief Financial Officer and CEO of both the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. For both the Padres and Pirates, he was an integral part of the team receiving the financing for a new ballpark. Even after retiring from his position with the Padres in March, he's now serving as a consultant for the Minnesota Twins and their new ballpark, Target Field.

Even after our first Statistics exam, SMBA '11 was thrilled to have such a high-profile guest lecturer.

Once again, the SMBA has gone above-and-beyond to provide us with not only another fantastic opportunity, but a valuable source of information. SMBA '11 looks forward to more classes from Mr. Freeman.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sports@Lunch with Tony Gwynn and Rich Hill

By Aileen Berran (SMBA '11)

At the beginning of January some of the members of the SMBA '11 had the opportunity to help the San Diego Hall of Champions with their Elite Eight High School Basketball Showcase held at the University of San Diego. For those of you who may not be aware, the San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation's largest multi-sport museum located in beautiful Balboa Park. The San Diego Hall of Champions recognizes San Diego's outstanding athletic accomplishments and traditions, and athletes such as Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Bill Walton and many more are honored in the museum.

As a thank you for our help with the event, the Hall of Champions offered us a ticket to their Sports@Lunch with Tony Gwynn and Rich Hill, the San Diego State University and University of San Diego Baseball Head Coaches, respectively. A few members of SMBA '11 joined them as they discussed their respective team's outlook for the upcoming NCAA Baseball season. The event was emceed by Craig Elston, of 619 sports in San Diego, and was conducted as an open forum.

Now, being a baseball fan my entire life it was an honor to hear one of the greatest hitters of all time, Tony Gwynn, discuss his outlook on both the SDSU season and San Diego baseball in general. Tony noted that the quality of baseball in San Diego is great, but they need to find a way to try to keep this talent in the area when the players come of college age. Both men discussed their recruiting strategies and their opinions on the outlook of San Diego College Baseball in the national limelight. They agreed that until either team gets to the College World Series it would be very hard to be known as a dream college for those top prospects in high school.

However, USD is currently ranked #24 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason top-40 poll and SDSU reached the Regionals last year. Tony stated that having former SDSU player Stephen Strasburg, drafted #1 overall by the Washington Nationals in 2009, helped the SDSU program, but it was up to his guys on the current team to build upon that to strengthen their program. Rich Hill stated that his team's strength is their experience and being able to build a great schedule and having a strong RPI can only help them when it comes to College World Series Selection time.

You could tell that both men have great respect for one another, as they discussed the upcoming Black and Blue rivalry games, being held on February 25-28th at both Tony Gwynn Stadium (SDSU campus) and Cunningham Stadium (USD). The SMBA '11 class will definitely be in attendance on the February 25th game cheering on those Aztecs against their in-city rivals. At the end of the lunch, Tony Gwynn was more than happy to sign autographs and even take a picture with the SMBA '11 crew.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Who Dat?

Last night served as a microcosm of why many of us would like a career in sports. The New Orleans Saints defeated the favored Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to win their first Super Bowl. Saints fans started the party in Miami, but in New Orleans fans spilled on to Bourbon Street and hugged, kissed, and celebrated their team's accomplishment.

However, the fact that a football team could lift the collective spirits of so many in a city that only 4 years ago was ruined by Hurricane Katrina is exactly what is right about sports. With hope, a number of us in SMBA '11 will experience a national championship and the feeling of a city coming together as one for a team we're working for in the future.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Aztec for Life!

By Luke Epp (SMBA '11)

After a quick break for lunch, the SMBA class reconvened at the Aztec Athletic Center. The beautiful facility is home to the SDSU Hall of Fame, has a state-of-the-art weight room, houses the Aztec coaching staffs, and also has an academic center for student-athletes. Our SMBA class was privileged enough to be invited over by the SDSU Athletic Department. In the weeks prior they had tasked us with evaluating the experience of the mens' and women's basketball games.

Lucky for us, the Athletic Department has provided us with season tickets to the Aztec basketball games this year! Our class has come out in full force to show our support. The highlight for me was the BYU game. Although SDSU lost a close one to BYU (currently ranked #12), the capacity crowd was absolutely rocking. The Athletic Department ran a "Black Out" promotion in which each student received a black towel with the SDSU fight song printed on it. The class thought this was a tremendous idea and as you can see from the picture, it was executed very well. Joe Shemanski (SMBA '11) stepped up and presented the class' feedback directly to the Athletic Department panel. Great job, Joe!

After presenting our feedback, we heard directly from the Athletic Department. Don Oberhelman - Interim Athletic Director/COO, Sean Briner - Associate Athletic Director/Marketing & Sales, Bob Moosbrugger - Associate Athletic Director Development/Major Gifts, Nick Pettit - Associate Athletic Director, Steve Schnall - Associate Athletic Director, Jay Larson - Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance, Chris Carlson - Director of Marketing and Ticket Sales, and Diane Penny - General Manager of Aztec Sports Properties for Learfield Sports all gave a quick overview of their experience in college athletics and their main responsibilities. It was great for the class to get exposed to the inner workings of a Division-1 collegiate athletic department. Each presenter's passion and enthusiasm for their job was clearly evident. They definitely take great pride in Aztec athletics, their student-athletes, and the entire SDSU community. A BIG THANKS goes out to Aztec athletics. SMBA '11 is excited to get involved and help in any way possible!

Our day ended by getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities. Wow...if I was being recruited by SDSU, I know I would be signing! The tour started out at the weight room, where the football team was finishing up with a workout. It kind of reminded me of the days when I used to pump iron as a member of the Purdue University golf team (yes, the golf team actually did work out). We then strolled into the Tony Gwynn Stadium, which is widely considered one of the best college baseball facilities in the country. Check out the's pretty easy to see why. I think I even caught a glimpse of the man the field was named after.

After working up a sweat on the baseball diamond, the class decided to a quick dip in the new Aztec Aquaplex. I will surely be going over there later in the semester as the temperatures rise! The last stop on the tour was the Aztec Tennis Center where we got a chance to speak with men's head coach, Gene Carswell. He gave us some background on both the men's and women's tennis programs, their upcoming schedule, and how the Aztec Tennis Center has been a great tool to help recruiting. I even saw and heard the next Maria Sharapova practicing. Another big thanks goes out to Chris Carlson for being such a great tour guide. SMBA '11 really appreciates Chris and Sean Briner being the liaison between SDSU Athletics and our program.

Go Aztecs!

Football or Futbol?

By Jessica Ceresino (SMBA '11)

After a long week of Statistics and Accounting, we were delighted to have Mark and Yuki Zeigler stop by and speak to the SMBA class about an often-forgotten sport in America: soccer. Mark is a sports columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He covers a lot of soccer domestically and abroad, including the World Cup. Yuki works for Soccer United Marketing, focusing daily on the massive challenge of creating popularity for soccer in a country that seems to have no interest.

Soccer is the world's favorite sport, and the number one sport played by youth in America. However, after the youth level, something happens and its popularity plummets in the U.S. So, what happens?

Well, Mark and Yuki offered their experience and first-hand knowledge of the sport here in America to try to explain just where the disconnect happens. They showed us how soccer is different than other American sports in that it's divided into different sections. Those sections of fans only care about one level of soccer. That is, it's not the same as baseball, where the fans only have the MLB to watch. Soccer fans can watch the EPL, MLS, World Cup, youth games, college games, and the list goes on. So, generally, a soccer fan is only a fan of one of these leagues. Therefore, it's difficult to get the same backing the Chicago Cubs have in Chicago, behind the Chicago MLS team, the Fire. It's not that there aren't fans out there, they just aren't all watching the same games. This presents a difficult task to Yuki and her colleagues of combining these fans under the same umbrella and driving them to watch the same thing.

Mark and Yuki happened to hit a nostalgic note with me, as Mark mentioned his coverage of Olympic Gold Medalist, Rachel Buehler. I remember my first game playing against Rachel; we were 9 years old. I quickly learned that Rachel was going to be something special. She was a perfect combination of athleticism and finesse, which is a rare thing in the soccer world. We went on to play on the same team for the 9 years that followed that game. In fact, Rachel and I held a sign at the 1999 World Cup championship that read, "Surf girls u-15, future U.S. national team."

While that wasn't true for 17 of us, last year in Beijing, Rachel and the U.S. Women's National soccer team took home the gold medal after defeating Brazil. I can't explain the feeling of watching Rachel celebrate and carry the American flag around with some of the greatest names in the game. It's moments like that that Yuki and Mark are looking for to reignite the passion of youth players in America to follow soccer intensely, like baseball and football fans have their entire lives.

I'm not sure where the disconnect happens, but it does, and I speak from experience. Once a devoted soccer fan, watching Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm whenever I could, I now--regretfully--only tune in to World Cup games. Hopefully, Yuki and Soccer United Marketing can figure out a way to fix the current disconnect.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Farmers Insurance Open

As Torrey described below, the SMBA class volunteered for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this past weekend. While most volunteers had to pay $50 to volunteer, we were able to help out thanks to the Sports MBA connections.

As part of volunteering, we were the first-line of hospitality and we made potential customers aware of the Century Club seat upgrade experience. To make us look more professional the Farmers Insurance Open armed us with a nice golf fleece, parking passes, lapel pins, weekend passes to see the top golfers, and (most importantly) knowledge.

Ben Crane won the weekend's tournament, but more attention was paid to San Diego's own Phil Mickelson. Mickelson wasn't able to win the Farmers Insurance Open, but he did win a spot in this picture by Oumar Ganame (SMBA '11):