When it comes to sports marketing, analytics and legal issues – what does the future look like? This was the topic of the 10th Annual Mathematical Business Symposium, hosted by the Mathematical Business Association and the Gabelli School of Business.
“We celebrate this anniversary with a dynamic and timely program,” said Mark Conrad, associate professor of law and ethics at the Gabilley School. “We started 10 years ago in a very small room, and now we’ve been on Zoom for the past two years attracting current students, alumni, and guest speakers from all over the country.”
Several Fordham alumni working in the sports business participated in the event. Conrad also announced the launch of a new Gabelli Sports Business initiative, which aims to bring sports professionals together to discuss these evolving topics.
Name, picture and similarity for college athletes
After California and Florida passed laws allowing college athletes to sign sponsorship deals and earn money for using their name, likeness and likeness — and after the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in a related case — the NCAA began allowing country students to do the same.
Keynote attorney Darren Heitner, founder of Heitner Legal, PLLC, and Professor of Sports Law at University of Florida Levine School of Law, helped write the Name, Picture, and Example law passed in Florida. While Heitner often works out deals with high-profile college athletes, this year he noted that other athletes have been able to capitalize on their moments.
St Peter Doug Edert: Bargain
“When St. Peter’s career was amazing, and everyone was talking about Doug Eddert, Buffalo Wildwings made a deal with him,” Hettner said. “It’s funny he couldn’t have received it before July 1 and I don’t think we’re going to talk about Doug for the foreseeable future – I don’t think he’s going to have a career in the NBA, yet it was a win-win for both parties.”
Konrad Heitner asked if he thought in the future that student-athletes would try to take this step forward and work to get a contract with their university, essentially becoming employees of the institution. Heitner said he wasn’t sure if that was the best thing for them.
“I wonder if that opens a can of worms for the athletes,” he said, noting that this could lead to questions, such as whether they are considered employees at will. “I think we’re approaching an ecosystem where athletes share the revenues of their universities or maybe conferences.”
Dive into analytics for ‘smarter’ fans
Sanjay Putula, a research and innovation analyst at the Milwaukee Bucks who graduated from Gabilley Business School in 2015, said he tries to stay on top of the latest analysis by looking at sports other than basketball.
“I will try to see — are there ways that people think about things differently? Because often, when you look at your analysis in your particular sport, sometimes … everyone has the same thoughts on a similar topic.” “And sometimes you just want to get out of that kind of and figure out ‘Is there a new way of thinking about things?'” “
Bothola said Fordham helped him connect him to coaching programs in the sport that gave him experience in his career.
“The great thing about Fordham is that there are a lot of people playing different sports,” he said. “There were a lot of connections in baseball in particular —[being]part of the sports business community at the time… it kind of gave me a realization of what I could do and what the opportunities were.”
Pothula was on a panel with Caleb Shreve, head of analytics at Orlando Soccer Club, and Eric Eager, vice president of research and development at Pro Football Focus, a sports analytics firm focused on NFL and NCAA football. Eager said his company has to adapt to a changing market to serve not only teams and media, but fans who want detailed data analytics.
“It is undeniable that the average sports fan and the average person who works in sports is much smarter than they were 10 years ago,” he said. “You have fantasy football, sports betting, and it’s exploding — the average consumer of the game has more skin in the game than they did before, and they’re getting smarter.”
Using Influencer Content on Social Media
In her role, Emily Martin, director of paid social marketing for the NBA and a 2018 graduate of the Gabilley School of Business, said that it is in her role to stay abreast of the latest trends and ways in which people connect on various social media platforms. For example, TikTok in particular has a different style than previous social platforms.
She said in a panel discussion that also included Douglas Bennett, Senior Director of Partnership Marketing at NYCFC who earned a master’s degree in Strategic Marketing Communications from The Gabelli School in 2020.
“So the strategy we’re trying to use there is that instead of using our paid content, which is huge, the best way is to try to get some influencers involved and organically promote things that are already posted.”
Martin said Fordham helped her take what she learned and put it into practice.
“I think Fordham does a great job of giving that really hands-on experience,” she said. “To be able to really take lessons in marketing and other sports business, it really helps you develop that interest. And then, of course, the club and the gatherings encourage you to get out there and get an athletic training.”