Alex Dawson: Student of the Week

Alex Dawson – an Emory University alum from Seattle – was recognized as Student of the Week for his contributions to this blog and a ‘hip pocket’ class he presented on the how media coverage of sports gambling has evolved over the years.

What have you learned so far in your Sports MBA experience that has helped prepare you for working as a manager in the sports industry?

I’ve developed a much fuller understanding of a number of aspects of the sports business industry. We’ve had so many incredible guest speakers from fields such as corporate sponsorships, the sports television industry and more. The opportunity to work in teams on a regular basis to tackle some of the most relevant issues in the sports business world today – such as the Ed O’Bannon case, breakthroughs in statistical analysis and how climate change could affect the sports world – has also been an incredible experieence.

What has been your favorite ___ and why?

Class: Sports Business and Law with Scott Rosner. I really enjoyed learning the history and major issues today in the sports world from a professor with so much breadth of knowledge and experience in the industry.

Faculty Member: Dr. Jim Lackritz, our statistics professor. He has a distinct enthusiasm for the subject that he always brings to class. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with him on an article about media rights in the NFL and the relative strength of the different network’s primetime schedules. He was incredibly helpful and generous with his time.

Guest Lecturer: Jill Stephenson (’06). Jill works as a Strategic Partner Manager at Google Fiber, a lightning-fast broadband internet and television service in several cities (with plans to expand) in the United States. Jill manages the relationships between sports networks and other channels and Google Fiber. Given my interest in the sports media interest, this was a fascinating subject to learn about.

Outside of Class Experience: The Dominican Republic trip. We experienced first hand everything from impressive MLB academies to informal trainers on rugged fields working with kids they hope will eventually sign with big league team. What really made the experience great was how engaged everyone in the cohort was during our visits and afterward during both formal and informal discussions. Those discussions and the time spent together going through such an incredible experience definitely made our class much closer.

Consulting Project: We’re just getting started on this project, but I’m extremely excited to work with Colina Park golf course and Pro Kids. Pro Kids, in partnership with First Tee, teaches underserved youth life lessons and character development through education and golf. I previously worked as a golf coach at a high school in Atlanta, and was excited to hear about the organization’s mission when our class met yesterday with CEO Keith Padgett. Our class will focus on how the course can attract more public play to help raise money for Pro Kids.

Who is your most admired organization/leader/brand in sports and why?

Lots of names come to mind, but one that stands out is ESPN executive George Bodenheimer. He started out as a mailroom driver in 1981 just 16 months after the network launched. He became president of the network in 1988 and oversaw an era of incredible growth and influence on the sports world. This included the acquisition of rights to major sports leagues, the launch of new networks and an impressive online presence. While the book Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World Of ESPN shows internal politics could get heated, Bodenheimer is lauded and respected by the vast majority of his employees and industry experts for his dedication to ESPN’s mission, business savvy and lack of ego.

What advice would you give a prospective student looking to apply to the SDSU SMBA?
Figure out what aspect of the sports business world you’re interested in, and then do what you can do demonstrate your passion and knowledge. Also, make an effort to reach out to industry leaders who are often eager to share their experience and help out.

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