Behind the Scenes at the Sweet 16

The month of madness is almost complete.

After weeks of buzzer-beaters, heartbreaking defeats, and dominating performances, the NCAA College Basketball Tournament that began with 68 universities has been narrowed down to just four.  This past week, Villanova, Syracuse, North Carolina and Oklahoma all punched their tickets to the NCAA’s Final Four basketball tournament after battling their way through the Sweet 16. Breeanne Glaviano and Jamison Rowe from SMBA’17 had the opportunity to experience a sample of the madness first hand while volunteering at the Sweet 16’s Western Regional in Anaheim.

The Big West Conference won the rights to host the tournament at the Honda Center, home to the Anaheim Ducks, and with only 13 full-time employees, just over a hundred volunteers were needed to help pull of the event. Both Glaviano and Rowe were placed on the media operations team and had a variety of responsibilities from handling media credentials to interviewing players.

At the media credentials entrance, Rowe was in charge of distributing credentials to all members of the media and the volunteers working the tournament. While the majority of media members were from either California or local stations/publications of the teams playing in the regional, several national news sources such as ESPN, The Rich Eisen Show, USA Today, and the Associated Press were well represented at the tournament.

Glaviano served as a designated quote taker. At the end of every game, two to three players from each team were brought into the press conference room, which leaves a handful of players in the locker room. While most of the major members of the press were attending the press conference, Glaviano would interview the players that were still in locker room. She would then type up the quotes and distribute them to members of the press to ensure that they have quotes from all of the players they need.

Virtual RealityWhen the two were not busy with their volunteer duties, they spent their time observing the tournament behind the scenes to understand what encompasses such a large-scale event. After hearing from various guest speakers about the rise of emerging technology in sports, it was interesting to see the uses throughout the tournament. Virtual reality headsets were worn by the Sooners in their locker rooms. The virtual reality headsets were app based so the players would download a specific app, slip their phone into the headset, which would then initiate the virtual reality sequence.

The Honda Center underwent a transformation in order to host the NCAA March Madness. While the Honda Center is outfitted with their own sponsors, all sponsorship signage and banners had to be covered up and replaced with those of NCAA sponsors, most notably Powerade. Even though Coca-Cola owns Powerade, all Coca-Cola signs were covered and Powerade was the only beverage brand featured throughout the arena.

There were a variety of notable faces in attendance from Phil Knight, to Tim Cook to Kobe Bryant. Phil Knight has an obvious connection to Oregon’s program, but Oklahoma and Duke are also Nike sponsored college programs and therefore he had relations with multiple teams. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, was in attendance as a Duke MBA alum and member of Duke’s board of trustees.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is one of the largest sporting events annually in the United States and provides a unique opportunity to observe the sports industry on a variety of different levels and scales. The SMBA ‘17 students are very grateful to the Big West Conference for allowing them to experience this opportunity.

IMG_4279By Breeanne Glaviano and Jamison Rowe