Special to the Booster
NACOGDOCHES – A team of three sports business students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business earned a spot in the final four of the Sport Marketing Association’s 2023 Case Study Competition in October at the SMA annual conference in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Eli Standley of Warren, helped secure SFA a spot in the top four by demonstrating solid working knowledge of the issues confronting the case study team and presenting in a persuasive, enthusiastic fashion, according to Dr. Derek Walton, assistant professor of sports marketing at SFA and faculty sponsor for the team.
“Their impressive achievement in the case study competition was not only a testament to their dedication and skills but also a reminder that students from deep East Texas can achieve great things in the sport industry if they set their minds to it,” Walton said.
SMA hosted a record 22 collegiate teams from across the country to create strategies that Super League Tampa Bay can use to help the United Soccer League Super League launch a new women’s professional soccer league. The league will be featured in up to 10 markets throughout the U.S., and Tampa Bay is one of the original clubs that will begin playing in August 2024.
Student teams had 48 hours to create a plan to build a fan base for the new league, differentiate their brand story, develop and cultivate their supporter group, and show how SLTB can leverage corporate and local sponsorship opportunities. They then presented their ideas in several rounds to judges who included executives from SLTB, the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball team and the Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League team as well as sports management academicians.
To prepare, the team worked on channeling nervousness into confidence, responding thoroughly, creating a captivating slideshow and using a professional tone, Walton said.
“Our overall approach to the case study was that there is no right or wrong answer, only well-supported, feasible responses,” he said. “Tell a relevant and appropriate story to link with the dilemma being considered in order to develop an emotional connection.”
Matthew Morgan said he applied many of the skills he learned in Walton’s sports promotion class to help his team advance in the competition.
“One of the questions we got in the first round was, ‘Give me your season ticket pitch,’” Morgan said. “Based on the skills Dr. Walton helped me develop, my group and I were able to nail our sales pitch and advance to the final round.”
Eli Standley said his experiences at the conference and competition are helping with both his schoolwork and career planning.
“The SMA conference prepared me in multiple ways for my academic work and my future career,” he said. “It taught me hard work, time management and how to talk to people in a professional way.”
Steven Luenser also said his conference experiences reinforced his planned career path.
“During the case study competition, we had to find sponsors for the new team, and I want to work in the partnership area of sports,” he said. “We also got to hear from people in the sponsorship field talk about their experiences.”
In addition to the competition, students explored the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice facility, attended a Lightning game, and engaged in invaluable networking sessions with prominent industry executives from Tampa’s professional sports teams, including SLTB, the Rays and the Lightning.
Though making the final four at the competition was nice, another memorable moment made the trip’s highlight reel, Morgan said.
“We got to kick field goals on the Buccaneers’ practice field!”