Greg Norman believes that to be successful in sports or business, you must continually challenge yourself. “I never wanted to be the number one golfer in the world – just to be the best I could be for myself,” he said in a keynote talk at the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development’s second annual Sport Industry Conference, held from March 23-24 at the UM Fieldhouse at the Watsco Center. “Know your aspirations, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep learning.”
More than 250 students, faculty, alumni, and sport professionals took part in the conference, which also featured a keynote conversation with Major League Baseball All-Star Alex Rodriguez and ESPN sports broadcaster Jorge Sedano.
“In sports and business, it’s all about people,” said Rodriguez, founder and CEO of A-ROD Corp., which has businesses in the U.S. and Latin America. “To win a championship, you have to build a team with complementary skills and all pull in the same direction.”
|ESPN’s Jorge Sedano and former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez.|
Alicia Jessop, professor in the school’s Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, welcomed the attendees to the conference, which was co-sponsored by the School of Education and Human Development, USport Administration, UOnline, Delaware North, Experience, and United Capital. “Our conference is gaining a national reputation for attracting top leaders in the sport industry who come here to share their insights and knowledge with the students in our classrooms and online programs,” she said.
The two-day conference included nine panels on topics such as building fan engagement, finding new revenue streams, appealing to Millennials, and career opportunities for women in sport.
“With all the great professional and collegiate teams here, Miami is a great location to learn about sports and business,” said Adam White, a senior majoring in sport administration, and CEO of Front Office Sports, a leading sports business content publishing platform. “The UM program is second to none in terms of the quality of the faculty and the focus on getting the experience you need to start a successful career.”
Conference panelists included professionals from the Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, Homestead-Miami Speedway, NFL, PGA, Fox Sports, ESPN, and other collegiate and professional organizations.
“One of our goals is to give students an opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with people who are high up in the sports industry,” said Chloe Harrison, senior and president of USport. “Having professionals from throughout the country to speak with our students is invaluable.”
Brian Embry, a student in the sport administration master’s degree program, agreed. “Getting your name out there is the biggest thing,” he said. “Hopefully, the networking will help me get my foot in the door after I graduate.”
Jen Schuman, a teacher at Leadership High School in San Francisco and adjunct professor in sports psychology at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, Calif., brought a contingent of her students to the conference. “This whole trip has been a learning experience for them,” she said. “My students are getting that business knowledge they are going to need out there in the real world.”
Prior to his keynote talk, Norman and members of his investment team heard pitches from four finalists in “Greg Norman’s Search for the Next Great Sports Entrepreneur.” Candidates from eight countries submitted hundreds of applications in hopes of an opportunity to receive the financial backing to jumpstart their ventures.
Ben Reynolds and Michael Prendergast traveled from New Zealand to present their entrepreneurial venture, Spalk, a crowd-sourced sports commentary platform. Other finalists were Scott Rapp, M.D., of Fiomet LLC, whose Smartrap wearable technologies help users improve performance and rehabilitation; Jose Torbay Grint LLC, a golf handicap and GPS tracker; and Pete Bastawros, World Class Creations, which adds video gaming, fantasy gaming and social media elements to golf.
“Each of the four finalists has embraced something they believe the consumer market needs,” Norman said. “Whether we invest with them or not, I hope they are all successful.”