SPM

Sport Management Program sends graduates on their way in first annual commemorative event

The University of Connecticut Sport Management program held its first annual Send-Off event on April 26 to congratulate and celebrate the students who would graduate from the university this spring.

Both undergraduate and graduate students attended the inaugural event, as did many of the programs’ faculty and alumni. The soon-to-be graduates were given the opportunity to network with past Sport Management students and discuss their future plans and aspirations with the professors who watched them grow during their time in the program.

Aaron Ryley represented the undergraduate graduating class at the event, giving a brief speech about the impact that his professors and fellow classmates had on his time at UConn. Sofia Read, the graduate class speaker, discussed how she knew that UConn was the right place for her from the first moment she arrived on campus.

The Sport Management graduate students received their Master’s Degrees on Saturday, May 6 in Gampel Pavilion, while the undergraduate students received their Bachelors of Science on Sunday, May 7 in the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts.

Laura Burton on Women in Leadership Positions in Sport Organizations

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Matt Barresi of The Daily Campus, originally appeared on their website as part of their Women in Sports Week (WISW) series.

The fight for equality in sport takes place everywhere. Right here ata the University of Connecticut, Laura Burton, an associate professor in the Neag School of Education and one of the co-heads of the Sport Management program, is doing her part.

A former athlete and NCAA Division III Athletic Trainer, Burton returned to her native Nutmeg state to complete her education here at Laura Burton teachingUConn and since then has dedicated her work in large part to research about the roles of gender in sports. She also served as a faculty member at North Carolina State University.

“Because I lived it. I was always the kid who felt like the girls weren’t getting fair gym time in high school or we didn’t have equal uniforms...” Burton said on what inspired her to get into this line of research. “I knew I wanted to study something I had experienced.”

As a professional some of her earlier work focused on how athletics benefited women, now she has a more concise focus, women in leadership positions.

“There are very few women in leadership positions in sports organizations across all domains, from interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional or international sport, women are really underrepresented in leadership.” Burton said.

The discrepancy has no logical basis either.

“Think, half your participant population is women, or girls, why don’t we have an equal number of people at the leadership table?”

Burton, and her peers in the field, find it to be due to our perceptions on who should be in those roles which hurts women.

She says, “We don’t perceive women to be capable of and/or do we want them in leadership positions in general. In sport organizations, because we think it’s a real male domain, we don’t think that women can run a football program or an athletic department. There’s a lot of stereotyping that's influencing women, both trying to get into those positions and how we evaluate them when they’re in it.”

However, women in leadership roles is where UConn first gets accolades from Burton when it comes to women in sports here in Storrs.

“Beth Goetz (the Chief Operating Officer of UConn Athletics) is not only a women in leadership but the types of roles she has are really important,” Burton notes.

“She’s in charge of football. That is critical for her to continue to be successful. To be an Athletic Director, you need to have demonstrated you can handle what is the largest team with the greatest amount of operating expenses, and the greatest opportunity for revenue generation,” she said.

David Benedict’s willingness to put her in such a vital role signals to Goetz, and the intercollegiate athletic community, that she will be an AD one day. It’s an opportunity not often provided to women and Burton credits Benedict for the initiative, believing it will help propel Goetz to her higher career goals.

However that doesn’t mean UConn is doing everything right.

“I call them on the carpet for not having as many women coaching women’s sports. I think we have arguably the best coach in the women’s (basketball) game and I think he (Geno Auriemma) does an excellent job supporting assistant coaches but I think he made a mistake a couple weeks ago when he said there aren’t enough women interested in coaching.”

Says Burton, “I think that’s patently false. There are a lot of women interested in coaching, but there are a lot of constraints put on women that want positions in coaching. You don’t see a lot of women lose jobs and get re-hired and it's a real problem.”

“I’d like to see UConn seek more women’s coaching on the women’s side and it’d be wonderful to see women coaching on the men’s side... I think our support for our women athletes is phenomenal but I also think there’s always places to provide more resources and more equity,” she said.

The problems that face UConn are representative of problems across women’s sports as a whole however. When it comes to improvement, nearly everyone makes the list.

According to Burton, “Who's doing well? Not many. There are few organizations that really do well, the one that comes to mind and it’s probably not going to be a surprise, is the WNBA because they do have women in leadership positions.”

“But it’s the one professional sport organization in the US that’s at the highest profile for women. The rest, honestly I don’t think are doing well at all. I don’t think any of the major men’s professional sport organizations are and I think intercollegiate athletics are doing terrible.”

The number of women leading FBS schools, school that play the highest level of football and subsequently often have the largest athletic departments, is less than 10 percent.

The number of women coaching in women’s sports is declining year after year. And there’s no balancing effect, because while more men become coaches of women's sports, there are really no women becoming coaches in men's sports.

Burton points to The Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport (TIDES), as a great evaluator of this. Under the the Direction of Dr. Richard Lapchick from the University of Central Sport, they annually release “Report Cards” grading the practices and statuses of the major sport leagues as well as the intercollegiate athletic system. According to TIDES, college basketball as a whole has improved in recent years while football at all levels continues to score miserably.

“I think the whole industry still needs to look and see ‘Why are there so few women?’” said Burton.

One of the biggest areas of momentum in the movement for equality was the recent protest from the US Women’s National Team for both hockey and soccer.

“It speaks to a bigger problem that they had to go to that extent, where they had to threaten to not participate, to get the governing body of their sport to then negotiate for a contract,” Burton said on the issue. “There should’ve been a recognition that actually these women are playing at the highest level and representing our country extremely well, they’re champions, they’re medalists, they’re contenders, why did it take (threatening to boycott) to get equal pay?”

Burton thinks as a whole this could be the next big thing for women who want their fair share.

“I suspect that this is going to unleash for a lot of our national teams. I wonder if some of our team-based sports are going to look across at their male counterparts and wonder why they aren’t being provided equal resources,” Burton said.

What else is next?

“I continue to support and hope we will see equal pay for our men’s and women’s coaches. That’s a problem when you look across comparable sports. That’s an area where people are starting to pay more attention,” Burton said.

Dr. Laura Burton delivering a speechCoaching is an issue Burton holds in importance.

“I hope people are starting to pay more attention to why we’re losing so many women in sports. My colleague Nicole Lavoi from the Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sport is documenting what has become a pretty significant decline in women coaching in sport at the college level. This isn’t good, we shouldn’t be losing women as coaches, but rather be fostering and supporting young women who want to be coaches.”

Burton is committed to this for the long haul.

“I’m going to stay in this because I still think there’s more work to be done,” she said. “There’s lots of science that says gender stereotypes influence how comfortable we are with women. We haven’t fully fleshed out how that’s influencing women in sport organizations and I’d like to continue to really explore that.”

While women deserve equality in all domains, and will continue to push for what is rightfully theirs, in the world of sports it's going to be a process. With all issues of that comes to basic rights, there’s always going to be individual or group feats of activism and those who promote change and those who prohibit it. While all this unfolds, the work of Burton, and the increased exposure, should make us all more conscientious as fans of sport.

 

View this story as it originally appeared on The Daily Campus' website.

10 Questions With Student-Athlete and Current Sport Management Student, Marisa Maccario

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Neag School's Stefanie Dion-Jones, originally appeared on the Neag School’s website.

In our recurring 10 Questions series, the Neag School catches up with students, alumni, faculty, and others throughout the year to give you a glimpse into their Neag School experience and their current career, research, or community activities.

Marisa Maccario is a junior forward on the UConn women’s ice hockey team and a sport management major in the Neag School. (Photo courtesy of Marisa Maccario)

UConn women’s ice hockey forward Marisa Maccario ’18 (ED), a native of Marblehead, Mass., has been playing on a hockey team since the age of 5. Currently a sport management major in the Neag School, Maccario created a video this past fall for what she describes as her favorite class at UConn: Sport in Society, led by assistant professor Joseph Cooper. The video she co-produced has since been featured on youcanplayproject.org, an initiative dedicated to ensuring equality, respect, and safety for all those who participate in sports, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Here, Maccario talks about her experience as a student-athlete, about the video project, and more.

What kind of time commitment does the ice hockey training and traveling schedule demand? How do you balance that with coursework and free time? The ice hockey season sits between both the fall and spring semesters, so our school year is very busy. We get started within the very first weeks of school and go all the way until March. We are on campus training over Thanksgiving, most of Christmas break, and sometimes spring break.

Once classes start back up, most of our team manages time very well with classes in the morning, a break in the afternoon for hockey, and classes at night. Mostly after classes is when we have study hall, tutors, and time to get all of our work done for the weeks ahead. The good part about the league we are in (Hockey East) is that all the schools are relatively close (for example, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Providence, University of Vermont, and University of Maine). Seeing that we play schools that are close by, we are able to do day trips and do not have to travel Thursday through Sunday. Instead, we do day trips, which in turn helps our study schedule.

“Never use a busy schedule as an excuse. You can always make time to do something you love. Here at UConn, they give the option to play a sport you love — and enter into a very competitive program that will help you be successful once your sport it over.”

What made you decide to major in sport management? It just felt right. I can never see myself leaving the sports world. Seeing that I have been an athlete my whole life and got the chance to further my athletic commitment into college, once I am done competing, I want to be able to see what goes on behind the scenes — [something] that, typically, athletes don’t get a chance to see. I want to be part of someone else’s experience, not as a teammate or a competitor.

What about the sport management program at the Neag School have you found most valuable so far? Sport management not only is in a field related to sports, but it’s also in a school that has an educational leadership program. … Having a sport management program in the same school as educational leadership, for example, shows how leadership is important not only on the field or ice, but also in the classroom.

Tell me about the video project you created for Joseph Cooper’s Sport in Society course last semester. The guidelines were very open to whatever you wanted: pictures, PowerPoints, paintings, or videos. You just needed to talk about how society impacts sports and what you have learned throughout the semester.

We decided to put together this video in particular because we thought that not only was it a topic we talked about in class, but also something that impacts athletics at UConn greatly. We are a campus and athletic culture that accepts everyone and anyone for who they are, and not what society tells them to be. Student-athletes need to show their openness in these matters to make sure they and their teammates feel comfortable competing for a school that doesn’t care about your gender, race, or sexual orientation. If you can play the sport, that’s all that matters!

In your own words, why is inclusiveness in sports so important? With a sport like ice hockey, you have six players on the ice at a time: one in the net and five skaters. To be a team, you need to have skills from each player to win and, with hockey, everyone brings something different. If we didn’t have inclusiveness in sports, we wouldn’t have teams; we would have individuals playing sports.

The whole point of sports is to win, and with winning comes a group effort. You need to have different abilities with the same goal in mind. You need to be able to have open arms to new people because you never know who will be leading you to a national championship. If you can play, you can play. It shouldn’t matter about anything else as long as you want to win.

Marisa Maccario and UConn Women's Ice Hockey Team “The rink is not just for hockey, but a safe place where I can always go when I’m stressed,” says Maccario, No. 13. (Photo courtesy of Marisa Maccario)

How can coaches and teammates ensure that the team they lead or play on is as inclusive as possible? I think the best attitude that any player or coach can have is to look at work ethic, skills, and technique because that’s what makes an athlete an athlete. I believe at UConn we have a lot of student-athletes and coaches that judge off those rules and nothing else. … We bring each other up. Positive attitude and inclusiveness are key especially on our team, because your team is your family away from home. With 500+ athletes at a top university, everyone has to be on the same page and know that discrimination is something that doesn’t mix well with a winning culture. So that is left at the door the second you set foot on our campus.

What kind of reaction have you received from those who have seen the video? I have experienced a lot of positive feedback from the video — way more than I thought. I had someone tell me that when they attended the university, an article was released stating that UConn was ranked by the Princeton Review as No. 12 among the 20 most homophobic campuses in the country. Today, we have a video stating that we support our teammates that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. How times have changed — and will continue to change for the better. When doing this video we, the UConn student-athletes, pledged to keep our campus safe for all, and I think that, in itself, has touched a lot of people, both current and alumni student-athletes.

What’s your advice for those students who may be interested in checking out either the Neag School’s sport management program — or the sport of ice hockey? Never be afraid to do too much. By this I mean: Do everything you want to do and more. Never use a busy schedule as an excuse. You can always make time to do something you love. Here at UConn, they give the option to play a sport you love — and enter into a very competitive program that will help you be successful once your sport it over.

Always ask questions because you never know who you might be talking to and where they can lead you in the future. That’s what is great about the sport management program; the professors are great connections for down the road when you’re looking for jobs.

What’s your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot on campus would have to be the rink, not only because I spend most of my time there on and off the ice, but also because it is home. The rink is not just for hockey, but a safe place where I can always go when I’m stressed and have a lot of work.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I am second-generation Italian- American; my grandmother was a refugee during War World ll and traveled to America.

Read other installments of the Neag School’s 10 Questions series here.

Jackie Kelly Interns with the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, IN

Story written by: Jackie Kelly 

After graduating from the University of Hartford, I was able to accept a position with the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, IN.  The NCAA offers a postgraduate cohort based internship program that works with various departments throughout the national office. I worked as an intern for the Leadership Development department, which was responsible primarily for creating professional development programming for student-athletes, coaches, interns, graduate assistants and administrators across the NCAA membership.

Many of my daily tasks were focused on preparing for our programs. While working on site, I facilitated activities, panels and group discussions. I really enjoyed traveling to each of the programs, my favorite of which was the Pathway Program. This specific program is a yearlong professional development series held for senior level administrators aspiring to become athletic directors. I spent the majority of my time working on logistics, but was able to sit in on mock interviews and media training sessions as well. We were also able to take site visits to Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Emory and Clayton State University. During our time at these universities, the participants met with presidents, athletics directors and other current staffers. I was able to sit in on some of these conversations and presentations, which was extremely informative and allowed me to gain some valuable experience.

Over the course of that year I was able to create memories and relationships that I know will last a lifetime. My fellow interns in my cohort were and will always be like my family. Having been granted the opportunity to understand the NCAA from a national, internal perspective so soon after actually being a student athlete was a once in a lifetime experience that I will always treasure.

From Connecticut to Kenya: Sport Management Graduate Student inspires positivity across the world

Khalil Griffith is a first year master’s student in the Sport Management program who was given the opportunity to travel to Kenya, for the second time, from Feb. 23 to Mar. 8 of this year. During this most recent trip, Griffith conducted workshops held to promote healthy masculinity in villages throughout Kibera and implemented positive youth curriculums into communities, with the organization ‘A Call to Men.’ Here he shares his experiences from both trips, and how his ventures changed not only the lives of others, but his own as well.

I set out on this trip for two main reasons: to enhance my life experiences through sport and to promote healthy masculinity, while also helping to end violence against women.

Khalil Griffith plays with children during his first trip to Kenya, while implementing youth curriculum to promote healthy masculinity in the community.When I traveled to Kenya last June, I laid the groundwork for a student exchange program that uses sport as a tool to provide cultural exchanges between students in Kenya and students in the U.S. During this most recent trip, I not only continued to build that foundation, but I also hosted various basketball camps and clinics in numerous villages and schools throughout the country.

During my time in Kenya, I also conducted workshops focused on promoting healthy masculinity in multiple villages in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums. Last year, the organization, A Call to Men, developed a curriculum for children ages six to 12 to teach this guiding principle. While in Kibera, I worked with other colleagues to train members of the community about how they can implement this important curriculum in their communities.

One of the most memorable moments of my trip was my visit to a women’s maximum-security prison. I was amazed by how different the structure was from a typical penitentiary in the U.S. This prison had a very restorative focus compared to the more punitive atmosphere that we often see in prisons in the United States. I had never seen women so empowered by the justice system before. Many of them admire and respect the guards as they would their own mothers. There were also various programs in place at the prison, such as yoga, and we were even able to bring jump ropes inside to the women during our visit. It was truly inspiring to hear about the growth that these women have made during their time in jail, and furthermore to see the joy in their faces when they participated in such programs in a positive environment.

As I mentioned previously, during the summer of 2016, I was granted the opportunity to travel to Kenya to lay the groundwork for sports programming, basketball specifically. While I was an undergraduate student at Ithaca College, I conducted research that delved into accessibility in youth sport with relation to socioeconomic status. This research, in conjunction with my experience in coaching basketball and youth sports programming, is what truly inspired me to make this trip across the world.

Though I had originally decided to travel to Kenya to further my research and conduct clinics, I left having participated in an experience that would change not only my life, but also the lives of many others around the world.

Khalil Griffith pictured with members of one of the villages in Kibera, where he visited to implement the curriculum from 'A Call to Men.'While in Kenya, I traveled around the country and visited schools, interacting and playing with kids ranging from ages three to 19. One of the most memorable experiences that I had was when I spoke to students at Paul Boit Boys High School, an all boys’ school in Eldoret. There I discussed with 500 young men the impact that sports has had and continues to have on my life, as well as the opportunities that basketball has given me. After the talk I was then able to interact with some of the young men and engage in activities with them. While that was a truly humbling experience, it was what happened next that had the lasting impact on me.

After meeting with the school principal and other members of the community, they informed me that they had graciously decided to name their basketball court after me. The court was in much need of a renovation, consisting of uneven gravel, crooked basketball hoops and damaged soccer balls that substituted as basketballs. But over the last few months, we have come together to develop a project that will not only completely renovate the court, but will also establish programming for the local youth. In doing so, we will foster a sports exchange program with children in Kenya and in the United States that will allow for a cross-cultural exchange for students all over the world, offering programming to students who otherwise may not have been granted that opportunity.

Sport Management Undergraduate Feature: A Day in the Life of Paul Wettemann

Paul Wettemann is a junior at the University of Connecticut, currently pursuing a degree in Sport Management and a minor in Business Fundamentals. During his time at UConn, he has become heavily involved with the men’s basketball team, Sport Business Association (SBA) and the planning of UConn’s first Sport Business Conference.

Wettemann serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for the SBA, an organization that helps students further their career paths in the sport industry. The association meets weekly and invites professionals to speak and discuss their employment experiences, providing advice on how to succeed in the sport world.

Paul Wettemann speaking at the UConn Sport Business Conference in January.

“Everything that I am involved in at this point in my collegiate career has been because of the people I have met and the things I have learned from this group,” Wettemann said. “I really do mean it when I say that too, because there are so many different opportunities for people to learn from in the sport industry and SBA gives any student that puts the effort in a great chance to succeed.”

In addition to all that he has done with the SBA, Wettemann also served as the co-director and founder of the Inaugural Sport Business Conference, an event that hosted students from seven universities throughout New England to network with fellow students and sport professionals. Held on Jan. 28 of this year, the conference featured employees from organizations including ESPN, Fox Sports, the New York Mets, Connecticut Tigers and Manhattan Sport Business Academy. Through participating in workshops, speaking events and forums, students were given the opportunity to gain valuable experience that spans far beyond what they are able to learn in the classroom.

Since his sophomore year, Wettemann has also worked as a student manager for the UConn men’s basketball team. While doing so, he is responsible for assisting the coaches, staff and players at practices and games with whatever they may need. He has even been able to travel with the organization throughout the season, and was granted the opportunity to attend the Maui Invitational this past Thanksgiving break.

The UConn Sport Business Association executive board traveled to ESPN in Bristol, Conn. last fall.Wettemann’s sport involvement at UConn does not end there though, as he also works with UConn Athletic Operations as a game day assistant and student leader. As a game day assistant, he completes setup, breakdown and in-game duties at all athletic events, and as a student leader, he is responsible for coordinating with other student employees to ensure that all mandatory tasks are being met.

Wettemann emphasized how much he values hard work, and said that he believes it is truly the key to success.

“One of the most important things that I have ever been told is that you never know who is watching you, so you always want to make a good first impression,” he said. “Following this mindset has been a great help to me in my very early career, and it is something that I will continue to try to improve on as I move forward.”

In his little free time, you may find Wettemann on the field or the court playing intramural flag football or basketball.

“Each day for me is pretty different, and I think that’s one of my favorite parts about what I do, to be honest,” he said. “Working in sports can be unpredictable and present new challenges each day, and while some of those challenges may be more fun to tackle than others, I always enjoy making the best of it.”

This past summer, Wettemann made his first steps in the sport industry outside of UConn, serving as a front office intern for the Connecticut Tigers. While working with the A-short season affiliate of the Detroit Tigers in Norwich, Conn., he was able to gain experience with the ticket sales, concessions, promotions and operations departments.

Wettemann will continue making strides in the industry, and recently announced that he will be spending this upcoming summer working as a facility operations intern for the Brooklyn Nets. He said that he is excited for the opportunity to begin working with a professional sport organization.

His excessive experience has allowed Wettemann to recognize that in the future, he hopes to work in operations or event management for a professional sports team, specifically for the MLB or NBA, or for a Division I school. He said that sports have always played a large part in his life, acting as an escape from everyday responsibilities and stress, and it has always been a goal of his to turn that passion into a career.

“I have always been a fan of the saying, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,’” Wettemann said. “Now, being a second semester junior and having accumulated all of the different experiences that I have, I can say without a doubt that I will be able to succeed and enjoy every minute of working in sport, because it is something that means more to me than simply watching games or being a fan.”