Articles

Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program Offers First Course on Esports Management/Marketing

By Keith Morelli

Esports Flyer

TAMPA (April 13, 2021) -- As esports makes its way into mainstream, with gamers making millions and playing (before the pandemic) in front of packed arenas, there is the other side of the emerging culture away from the splashy graphics and lightning hand-eye coordination.

The business side. The front office side. The management side. They all are unique aspects of the growing industry that has captured the minds of talented young people focused on computer gaming as a way of life, a culture all their own.

To keep ahead of the curve in this growing trend is the USF Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program housed in the Muma College of Business. This spring, the program offered the first-ever class on the business of esports, with a focus of letting students in on the opportunities for marketing, accounting, financials and management of the industry. It is a groundbreaking moment for the graduate program that awards graduates a master’s degree in marketing and an MBA.

“The faculty within the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program are always looking for ways to be innovative and provide students with the skills to succeed in the ever-changing sport and entertainment industries,” said Greg Greenhalgh, a visiting instructor with the program who is coordinating the course. “Recently, esport has exploded and we wanted to stay ahead of the curve.”

Enrolled students were receptive to the budding industry’s business opportunities.

Among those students was Justice Moore, who took the course after talking to an academic adviser about her career goals. She thought it would be beneficial, as she knew very little about the business behind esports. She assumed that the business of esports aligned with the business of traditional sports.

“I will always have a love for arcade games, pc games and videogames. However, I do not classify myself as a gamer,” she said. “I rarely have time to play due to my busy schedule. My interest for the business behind the video gaming industry grew as the course progressed.

“In January, when the course began, I noticed that my future profession aligned with professions within the esports industry and that sparked my interest even further.”

While she hopes to land a position in the traditional sports and entertainment industry, the course did make her aware of the opportunities in the esports industry.

“Although the two industries have many commonalities, they have yet (if they ever will) to become one,” Moore said. “I am currently preparing myself for the career as a sports lawyer, as well as an NFL agent.”

Throughout the semester, students learned from industry executives, streamers and each other, Greenhalgh said, and the culminating experience for the class involved the students hosting their own esport tournament and job fair.

“And the students definitely stepped up to this task,” Greenhalgh said. “We have partnered with USF Recreation’s esports group and Bolts Gaming (part of the Vinik Sports Group) for the production of the tournament. We have also partnered with some of the top esport organizations to provide great networking opportunities and industry insights for the esport job fair.”

The tournament and job fair are open to anyone who registers. Here are the links for both:

To register for the esport tournament, click here.

To register for the esport job fair, click here.

The tournament, fully run by the students, takes place on April 17-18, with the finals happening April 24-25. Watch a promo video the students made about the tournament.

The student-hosted job fair is set for 2-4 p.m. on April 27 p.m. Companies booked to participate include Bolts Gaming, Rare Drop, Openly, Hitmarker, Rectify Gaming, USF Esport, High Point Gamer and Gamer Advantage.