Editor’s Note: Each week we publish an interview with the SMBA ’14 Student of the Week. The winner of the Student of the Week (awarded by the previous winner) sits in the front row of class and proudly displays a flag of his or her choice on the famous Tez statue. Danny Roach is our next winner for his stellar contributions in group projects and in the classroom.
Brian Regan: After graduating from UCLA, you moved to the nation’s capital city, Washington D.C., apparently headed down the political road. What made you decide to change directions and enter the sports MBA program?
Danny Roach: I was in the same situation that I think a lot of my classmates were in last year too. I was feeling restless in my former job and couldn’t completely grip a future as an insurance lobbyist. Around that time I discovered this program online and it just clicked immediately. The more I read into it, the more interested I was.
I had also worked part-time during college and full-time after college in the athletic department at UCLA, so I had a taste for working in a sports environment and definitely enjoyed the experience.
BR: Being from San Diego and having lived in D.C. are there any noticeable differences in the sports culture of the two cities and/or potentially anything that you may have learned that you’d like to see implemented by your hometown Padres/Chargers?
DR: That’s a great question. There are pretty vast differences actually. Washington is a four-sport town with a fairly clear hierarchy: Redskins, Capitals, Nationals and Wizards. While a lot of water cooler talk in D.C. centers around politics, sports are also huge, particularly the Redskins. The team is able to cast a really wide net in getting fans from D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and these fans tend to be really diehard. In my opinion the ‘Skins are the only D.C. team that is truly immune to fair-weather fan syndrome.
San Diego of course has a more laidback approach to sports, but there is still plenty of passion. A higher percentage of our fans are fair-weather, and in a way that’s reasonable because the city has never had a championship and our teams often underperform. I think things are really looking up for the Padres right now with the new ownership group taking over and the young talent that is finally coming to fruition on the field; I just hope fans realize that sooner rather than later and reward the effort.
In terms of D.C. policies that could be adopted in San Diego, I’d love to see the Padres pursue and sign free agents like the Nationals do. I also think our teams would benefit from more media coverage, and even from the media scrutiny that comes with it.
BR: Knowing your passion for basketball, but also understanding the challenges of running a professional team in San Diego, would you like to see a NBA team come to San Diego? Do you think it would succeed?
DR: I’d love a team here, but it’d definitely be an uphill battle given the lack of public funding for stadiums in California (the Chargers can second this) and the bevy of other entertainment options in the city.
I tend to adhere to the “if you build it, they will come” mantra though. With the right owner and the right venue, I think anything is possible. Probably too optimistic, but hey, a guy can dream.
BR: What have you found to be the most challenging aspect or class of the SDSU sports MBA program?
DR: Balancing schoolwork with “career planning” so to speak has been a challenge. In a business program, a lot of the work is done outside of school in getting involved with projects and meeting new people. It’s important to stay busy in this function and to talk to industry folks as much as possible.
BR: In past conversations, you’ve mentioned interests in collegiate athletic administration and professional basketball. Now being five months into the sports MBA program, have those interests narrowed or changed at all?
DR: I’m definitely still interested in both of these areas. I’d love to get into basketball operations or finance for a professional team. I also really like the more familial aspect of college sports and could see myself working in an athletic department again.
Lately I have been interested in sponsorship valuation, which is a developing field that I knew nothing about just a few short months ago. Companies are finding smart ways to value potential sponsorship deals, and this is making life easier for leagues, teams and potential sponsors.
BR: If there was one person in sports (living or deceased) that you could interview, who would it be? Why?
DR: Just one? I have to be unoriginal and go with Michael Jordan. He’s pretty fascinating to me, just because of his competitive nature and his motivation. Plus he would dish dirt and talk trash on every NBA player of his era.