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Manhattan Sports Business Academy Provides Students an Experience Like No Other

MSBA keeps students busy with a series of workshops, mixers, and speaker events every night for the duration of the two-month program.

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Image via Manhattan Sports Business Academy

(*MSBA is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Since 2012, the Manhattan Sports Business Academy (MSBA) has provided one of the most comprehensive educational experiences the industry has to offer. Over 100 students have gone through the eight-week program with nearly all of them moving on to full-time careers throughout the sports.

For college students unsure of what specific area of sports they would like to move into, the program tries to give students an all-encompassing look at sub-sections of sport like sales, event production, law, marketing, and many others. This was at the forefront of founder Ben Sturner’s thinking when he created the program’s curriculum.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I was graduating college,” Sturner remembered. “I did some television production internships with NBC and ESPN, I did PR, and I eventually I found my way into sponsorships and working on the brand marketing side. Being 20 years old and trying to get an internship is very competitive. We wanted to create something where people can understand just how many different career paths there really are within sports.”

Through strong relationships with local pro and college teams in NYC, MSBA has placed 100 percent of the participants in internships or on-the job-learning opportunities. Students also tour companies like the NFL and NBA’s NYC headquarters and get behind-the-scenes looks at world famous venues like Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and the Barclays Center.

“The highlights of my experience were the networking opportunities and all the events we got to go to,” says alum Jessica Thomas, who now works in corporate partnership marketing for the Detroit Red Wings. “We just got to meet so many different people from so many different facets of the industry. We never heard the same thing from two different people.”

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Talking Paid Social With Angela Welchert

Each student is also paired with a mentor for the duration of the summer. This gives students someone to chat with about career goals as well as help them network with potential career opportunities throughout the sports world. The average student actually exits this program with about 100 new Linkedin contacts like genuine connections.

MSBA keeps students busy on this side of things with a series of workshops, mixers, and speaker events every night for the duration of the two-month program. While the technical lessons students take from the program are very important to Sturner and the rest of the staff, camaraderie is also a key part of the MSBA experience.

“The members of MSBA usually bond very well together,” Sturner says. “We really wanted to give students an immersive experience throughout the summer, allowing them all to become colleagues and friends with one another, which hopefully they will be for the rest of their lives.”

In order to create an experience that students can’t get anywhere else, Sturner and company created a feeling similar to that of places like sports academies where participants work very hard with their cohort, thus allowing them to build those relationships with each other.

“I liken MSBA to tennis academies where athletes train very hard and are with a small group of people constantly. That’s what we have for those looking for a career in the business side of sports.”

Alumni of the program can speak for the curriculum’s effectiveness in teaching them what it takes to have a long and productive career in the sports world.

“The biggest lesson that MSBA taught me is that being a fan will only get you so far in this business. You will burn out very quickly if the only reason you’re doing this is to try and get paid to be a fan. MSBA prepared us for the tenacity and willingness that you’re going to have to show to advance in this industry,” says 2014 alum Fred Stillman, now working with clients — the likes of which include MLB players Clayton Kershaw, Dexter Fowler, and Kyle Schwarber — at Excel Sports Management in New York City.

Ethan Shibutani, a 2013 alum and now a growth marketing specialist at DraftKings, echoes this sentiment.

“No doubt, MSBA was a catalyst for my professional development. Not only did MSBA allow me to uncover new skill sets and push me professionally, it paved the road that landed me in my current job,” Shibutani says. “Aside from playing a key role in my summer experience, MSBA’s network is full of professionals willing to put in the time to help you jumpstart your career even after the program is over. As the quality of the program continues to flourish, and as we all grow collectively in the business together, I’m proud to call myself an MSBA alum.”

One alum, Kevin Paul (2015), is actually in the midst of returning to MSBA as the academy’s newest program director.

“I really feel like I grew a lot as a professional and as a person through my involvement with MSBA,” Paul says. “I’m looking forward to giving all of our students the best possible summer individually. We try to cater to the student as much as possible by finding their individual strengths and putting them in the right internships.”

READ MORE: Inside the Huddle: Monetizing Social Content With Alex Korn 

Not only do MSBA’s past participants love the results of the program, they thoroughly enjoy the process of participating as well.

“MSBA provided an experience both invaluable and game-changing,” shares Chris Stathos (2013), partnership activation coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. “In just eight weeks, the close relationships I made — and continue to maintain to this day — with my classmates are unique and unparalleled, and it’s extremely rewarding to see most of us getting our sports careers underway.

“No doubt, we have the MSBA program, its staff, and our mentors to thank for giving us exposure to one another and to some of the industry’s best. I can confidently say that MSBA is one of the smartest professional decisions I’ve ever made.”

(*MSBA is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

The cutoff for applications for the summer 2019 program is February 28. Students interested in applying can click here for more information.

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Game Changer MVP’s ‘Filter Fan Cam’ Ramps Up PBR’s In-Arena Atmosphere

PBR began using Game Changer MVP’s fan cam last year — and this year, you’ll be able to catch the Fan Cam at every event in the Unleash The Beast series.

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Photo credit: PBR

(*Game Changer MVP is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of camera-integrated apps like Snapchat and Instagram is playing with filters.

Game Changer MVP brings this fun to sporting events on a larger scale with its “Filter Fan Cam” technology. Cameras at a given event film the faces of fans and the video feed runs through a computer where the fan filters are applied and broadcast onto the arena’s jumbotron.

Professional Bull Riders (PBR) began using Game Changer MVP’s fan cam last year in Las Vegas — and this year, you’ll be able to catch the Fan Cam at each of the 26 events in the Unleash The Beast series throughout the country.

PBR Arena Video Director Kelly McCommons attests that the Fan Cam has helped bring a great level of energy into arenas full of bull riding fans.

READ MORE: Game Changer MVP Offers Unique In-Stadium Media for Australia’s KFC BBL

“It really it brings a lot of attention to the jumbotron in a way that is new and exciting for a lot of our fans,” McCommons states. “It’s a really great way to get people to interact with our content and our own custom filters that Game Changer is able to provide for us. We love it because it gets the fans engaged.”

McCommons also sees potential in the tool to integrate it into sponsorship packages in the future.

“I think it’s a great tool that eventually will play a part in our sponsorships because it is one of the most interactive things that we do and it gets people’s attention pretty quick. It really gives a chance for us to showcase the names of potential sponsors recognized on the screen with something that’s very cool and interactive.”

Because Game Changer’s technology is easily portable and straightforward, McCommons and the video team are able to integrate within all the different arenas that the Unleash the Beast Series travels to.

In doing so, they catch the eye of fans and tech professionals alike.

“We travel to different venues all over the country, but we travel with our own LED screens. Sometimes we use the in-house screens depending on how good they are. But we get a lot of different markets that don’t have the technology that this software brings to the table. So we get a lot of interaction from different people around the country who have not seen this type of technology before that are really engaged by it and very surprised by it.”

As a partner of Game Changer MVP, PBR works closely with COO Matt Coy to make sure the Fan Cam continues to work seamlessly and add to the fun of the event.

“They’ve been great over email as well as over the phone,” McCommons states. “They come out to events when they can and they’re very responsive on new projects that we’re working on and any changes we need for content or graphics. They’ve been awesome since the start.”

For more on how Game Changer MVP is leading the charge in high-quality in-stadium media, visit its website here. You can also schedule a demo by calling 1-800-464-9445.

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Managers on a Mission Gave an Equipment Manager a Lifelong Network

Participants make connections with the people they serve alongside as part of MOAM — and this certainly was the case for TSU’s equipment manager.

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Photo credit: Managers on a Mission

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of FOS)

In the nearly six years since the organization’s beginning, Managers on a Mission (MOAM) has been giving young people within the sports world opportunities to grow professionally and spiritually through service projects all over the United States as well as the world.

In nearly all cases, participants make lasting connections with the people they serve alongside, as well as learn valuable lessons about what a career in sports entails. This was the case for Andrew Johnson, an alumnus of MOAM and now head equipment manager at Texas State University.

Johnson graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2013, where he became an equipment manager for the football team. While working as an equipment manager for the New York Jets in 2014, Johnson heard of MOAM’s work through the organization’s founder, Drew Boe. At first unsure of whether he would be a good fit for the program as a post-grad, Johnson eventually applied and accompanied MOAM on a mission trip to Malawi in the summer of 2017.

“The experience of the trip was awesome,” Johnson describes. “You go there thinking at first that you’re going to have this huge impact in the life of the kids, but they teach you as well and you end up leaving as this totally new person. My biggest takeaway is just how awesome it is to be able to work with people that are from totally different backgrounds as us. These people obviously don’t have the same resources as most Americans. So it’s an uphill battle from day one for them, but they keep the faith and they do what it takes to make it.”

READ MORE: How MOAM Gave a Basketball Coach a Whole New Perspective

In addition to leading daily prayer and devotions of faith, Johnson and company led local children in daily games including basketball, volleyball, soccer, and American football. They accomplished this despite a significant amount of their equipment going missing upon arrival. Ironically, this inadvertently helped teach Johnson the biggest lesson he learned while in Malawi.

“The trip taught me the importance of being able to adapt on the fly and do what you need to do to make it in that situation,” Johnson states. “When we first got to Malawi, half our luggage was lost. So we just had to make do and change our schedule because we didn’t have our equipment. You never know what hand your going to be dealt during a game or in life, but you have to adjust on the fly and take care of it and keep the faith.”

Since returning from the trip, Johnson still regularly finds time to connect with the other participants from his mission trip as well as other contacts he has made through Managers on a Mission.

“Everybody that’s ever been on a trip is in this group chat,” Johnson explains. “In addition to things like prayer requests, we also try to connect people in the group that are looking for jobs with open opportunities that we know of. Every major sport at all different levels is represented. For a young person in the industry, it is a great way to branch out and grow professionally.”

During his travels, Johnson will often chat with these contacts in person and occasionally try to help recruit new participants for the program.

“I still donate and anytime I see them at a convention, I’ll stop by the booth for a little bit. I gained so many lifelong friends and business connections through MOAM. It’s just an amazing group of people.”

In addition to still frequently communicating with his colleagues in MOAM, Johnson hopes to lead a domestic service trip sometime in the near future. For any young professionals considering applying for a Managers on a Mission project, Johnson doesn’t think you will regret it.

“If you’re nervous about leaving the country or being away from home, MOAM will make sure you’re ready to go. They’re not going to send you if you’re not ready to go. If you feel that you’ve been called to do this, take that step and give it a shot.”

(*MOAM is a Proud Partner of FOS)

Deadline to apply for the summer trips is March 1! Applications for the 2019 summer mission trip can be submitted here. Potential applicants should contact MOAM Director of Discipleship Seth Ralston at sralston@managersonamission.org with any further questions.

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Inside the Atlanta Falcons’ Social Media Presence With Kyle Benzion

Throughout all of their content, the Atlanta Falcons utilize three different hashtags that each play their own part in telling the team’s story.

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Photo via @AtlantaFalcons

(*Team Infographics is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Here are two things that are difficult — but essential — to achieve in sports social media: Establishing a balance in tone, and capturing the voice of the home city. In recent years, one of the best examples of doing both can be found in the Atlanta Falcons’ social presence.

To show how they have achieved this, Falcons’ social media coordinator Kyle Benzion provided some insight. For starters, the Falcons’ Twitter account reaches a nice balance between humor/clever copy and emotional storytelling.

“We really focus on creating a balance between what our audience wants and what our football team represents,” Benzion says. “Everything we do starts from insights. Our goal is to understand what our fans are feeling and then develop content and share news that they are interested in. Whether it means being the source of the news, interacting with other teams or brands, pumping up one of our players, or creating strong emotional videos, there are always insights that are tied to our decision making.”

This past season, the Falcons put forth another example of their strong storytelling abilities with the Falcons’ remix of “Welcome To Atlanta.” The team released the song and video at the start of the 2018 season to get fans excited about the upcoming year.

“The Falcons remix of ‘Welcome To Atlanta’ illustrated the strong connection between the city of Atlanta, the fans and the football team, but it wasn’t just a song about the football team,” Benzion clarifies. “Although it represented the continued growth of the Falcons Brotherhood and what this team can become, it was really a song about the city of Atlanta. The words embrace the past, yet, similar to the team’s mindset, are also focused on owning the future.”

Benzion goes on to credit team leadership for establishing a path for the social team to connect with fans as opposed to being transactional both with the “Welcome To Atlanta” video and with other social campaigns.

“We’re always encouraged to think big, really big,” Benzion adds. “In this case, it took a ton of planning from a variety of members throughout our organization. Everyone had to be on the same page to pull off a season launch like this. The video was the most shared video on Facebook in professional sports the first half of September and it was an incredibly fun and rewarding project to be a small part of.”

For in-game content, the social team keeps fans updated with scoring-drive motion graphics that it creates hand in hand with Team Infographics.

“Team Infographics is a great company to work with,” Benzion testifies. “I originally worked with Team Infographics when I worked for the Nebraska Huskers. I really liked what they were able to bring to game day and their fantastic customer service. We have worked directly with Team Infographics for two years and they have been nothing short of incredibly responsive and easy to work with. We look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Throughout all of their content, the Falcons utilize three different hashtags that each play their own part in telling the team’s story: #InBrotherhood, #RiseUp, and #TogetherWeRise. Benzion explains the thinking behind these.

“#InBrotherhood, #RiseUp, and #TogetherWeRise live simultaneously but each carry their own equity. #RiseUp is a call to action or a rallying cry that represents what Falcons do. #InBrotherhood represents the relentless spirit in which we work for each other, support each other and fight for each other on the field. Each equity allows us to bring the team, the city and the fans closer together in different ways.”

#InBrotherhood was originally created during the team’s 2016 playoff push that ended with a Super Bowl appearance. Our goal was to create something that helped bring the football team together with the city and the fans.

“For the Falcons and Head Coach Dan Quinn, “Brotherhood” is not just a word we toss around, but rather a way of life and something the team strives for every day,” Benzion adds. “Our entire city was able to relate to the traits that the ‘Brotherhood’ representes such as toughness, grit, hard work, and getting back up again and again no matter the circumstance.” 

One unique undertaking for the Falcons’ social team in the last year has been promoting the opening of Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which the Falcons call home. Benzion and company consider themselves fortunate to help tell the venue’s story alongside digital team members dedicated solely to the stadium’s channels.

As Benzion puts it, “Making people fall in love with a place requires a different strategy than falling in love with our team; but it’s not hard to do with the world-class technology, architecture and community connection that our owner, Arthur Blank, has built. During the lead-up to the opening of the stadium, we worked hand in hand with our communications team, dropping monthly time lapses, drone videos, and other stadium ‘firsts’ or reveals that were always incredibly high-performing pieces of content. Any new news on the stadium, fans loved. It was very unique because it allowed us to break out of our usual NFL fan base and reach completely new audiences.”

At the end of the day, Benzion believes that in order to achieve a high ranking digital position in the NFL is to avoid having a one-dimensional skill set.

“My biggest advice to a college student that hopes to be in my position one day would be to be multidimensional. Be great at what you do. Be a master of it and have a variety of skillsets. The more you can do, the harder it is for a potential employer to say ‘no’. If you can do graphics, video, social insights and analytics, photos and write, you are setting yourself up for success.”

(*Team Infographics is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

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