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Sport & Entertainment Management Lecture Series Takes A Glimpse Into the Future of Sports Marketing

By Keith Morelli

SEM Lecture Series

TAMPA (October 18, 2018) -- The merging of sports and marketing has always been a marriage of necessity, of finding innovative ways to fill seats or to tune in on television. But with the digital revolution emerging at such a fast pace, the way sports is presented and how its appeal is molded is as important as ever. And how future fans’ perceptions of their favorite teams and players is shaped is really just starting to evolve.

So say three front-office superstars who have managed the business of sports over their careers. They appeared on a panel at the annual Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program Lecture Series held Wednesday night in the Yuengling Center.

Nearly 300 attended the event, sponsored by Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning, to hear about the latest trends in the world of sports marketing from:

  • Dan Reed, who brings sports teams and players closer to fans through Facebook by connecting, entertaining and engaging what may be the world's largest community of sports fans;
  • Rick Welts, who, with 40 years’ experience in the field, is president and COO of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, world champions for three of the past four years, and
  • Jay Parry, the former COO of the WNBA who served as president and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, which oversaw all aspects of planning and executing Super Bowl XLIX.

The main take-away from the event: The way sports is consumed today is ever changing and five or 10 years from now appealing to a fan base amid fluctuations in how they consume the product will be totally different that it is today.

In a wide-ranging discussion that touched current events, the future of sports, the emergence of new professional sports along with other topics, the speakers offered insights and their best predictions for the future.

On the top sports story each is watching right now:

Welts: “Legalized sports betting is evolving in our sports ecosystem. It holds both promise and trepidation and it will one day influence how sports is run.”

Parry: “Social activism across the leagues has been really interesting. It’s heartening for me to see athletes taking action on social issues.”

Reed: “The changing tastes in sports. The innovation is amazing. Things that were sacred five years ago are now nonexistent.”

Moderator Bill King, senior writer with the SportsBusiness Journal, asked about the Nike advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who started the kneeling-during-the-national-anthem movement and who filed a collusion grievance against the league after he said he was blacklisted.

Parry said she agreed with Nike executives to go with the ad, “though I can’t say how it will play out. But it’s true to who Nike is.”

Welts, who said the NBA is more tolerant of its players who speak out on social issues and who reminded the audience that his Golden State Warriors was the first team to be disinvited from the White House after winning a championship, also backed the decision. “The authenticity of that ad rings true,” he said.

“Yes, it’s true to form for Nike,” Reed said. “Whether you support Kaepernick or you don’t support Kaepernick, the point is to take a stand.”

Gambling was another issue discussed, as some states around the nation are moving toward legalizing betting on sports.

The panel agreed that transparency must be the rule to protect the integrity of the game.

Reed said the United States is about the only country that makes it illegal to bet on sports.

“This is not a new thing,” he said. “This is legal around the whole world. In Europe, they have betting windows in the arenas.”

Betting is a way to further engage fans, Welts said. To get them more interested in teams and players.

The Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program announced the creation of a Community Assist Award and gave the inaugural honor to Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. A taped “thank you” speech was played at the outset of the event.

Wade’s World Foundation provides support to community based organizations that encourage education, fitness and social skills for children living in at-risk neighborhoods.

“This is nice,” Wade said. “Why I do the things I do? To make our community just a little bit better.”

The lecture series is in its sixth year and has hosted some heavy hitters in the sports/marketing world. Last year, Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets was one of the guests, and the year before featured Tod Lieweke, COO of the NFL.

“We are focused on the success of our students and constantly look for new and innovative ways to help them succeed,” said Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem. “Although they learn from some world-class professors at the Muma College of Business, students also benefit from the insights from seasoned professionals into what it’s like in the real world, like the ones featured in this lecture series.”