Last month, 15 students took a five-day trip to Nashville to volunteer as Draft Ambassadors at the NFL Draft – part of an independent study course that includes three volunteer experiences at major sport events. A Draft Ambassador’s role is to welcome and help guests by answering questions and guiding them through various positions throughout the park, including the:
The event had a marked impact on several of the students. One of the students remarked on their course evaluation, “Just being around some of the most dedicated NFL fans, to seeing the athletes and their families faces and smiles when their names were called, to the workers, all the way to the runners in the marathon made me realize why athletics is the spot for me.”
The trip also included a tour of Nissan Stadium (home of the Tennessee Titans) and meetings with stadium staff and Clemson alumni. The students also visited other Nashville sport facilities to meet with:
After the draft, the students volunteered at the Music City Marathon, where they provided finish line support. This event draws 30,000 runners every year, and illustrates a different type of sport management than working for a professional team.
Before their Nashville trip, the class participated in the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, where they learned about the role of the national governing bodies in Olympic sports, national event planning, the Paralympic movement and working with international federations. Four guest speakers from USA Triathlon – their Chief Operating Officer, National Events Manager, Paralympic Program Manager and Team USA & Research Manager – met with the students in small groups to discuss their specific roles.
Class experiences are designed to highlight different considerations involved in sport management, and give students behind the scenes experience into the complexity of managing major sport events.
The experiences gave students valuable insight into sports management jobs. “The professionals who we met with were being pulled in many different directions, and their jobs were far more multi-dimensional than a typical desk job,” said another student. “They were assigned various duties, and some of those tasks did not even deal with sports. The sport business appears to be more difficult than I ever imagined, so I must be sure that it is what I want to do.”
Above all, the class is intended to help students build connections in the sports management professional community and see where they might be able to fit into the industry. As one student says, “Overall, I believe my greatest takeaway from Nashville is my new sense of professionalism…Money can come and go but connections are priceless!”