February 5, 2015

Sports Management Students Travel to Brazil, Site of Olympic Games

Brazil recently hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup and is once again preparing to draw thousands of sports fans to its shores for the 2016 Olympics.

These high-profile sporting events made the South American nation the perfect site for Georgetown graduate students in the Sports Industry Management (SIM) Program to visit as part of their week-long global immersion course.

Georgetown in Brazil

In October 2014, 15 SIM students travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to see some of the world’s major sports venues, attend meetings with high-level executives from prestigious sports organizations, and experience Brazil’s culture and historic landscape.

The trip was intended to teach the graduate students how sports organizations and marketing companies plan and promote major sports events and to contrast sports management practices between Brazil and the United States.

SIM students were accompanied by faculty and administrators who generated connections and promoted the Georgetown students throughout the trip.

“Our goal is for some of these Brazilian sports organizations to hire some of our students who want to go work for the Rio Olympic Committee or go work for a football team in Brazil,” explained Jimmy Lynn, adjunct faculty and special advisor. 

Basketball, Soccer, and More

The global immersion course was packed with seven meetings and several venue visits.

Highlights included a meeting with the managing director of NBA Brazil, watching the preseason game between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the HSBC Arena and going to the Maracanã Stadium to watch a local soccer match.

According to Bobby Goldwater, the program’s interim associate dean, the game was part of a learning process for students: it gave them a chance not just to “see an NBA game in a foreign country, but also to see an arena while it was in operation.”

Students spoke with Leonardo Gyner, the deputy CEO of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, about the planning phase of the Olympics. Other high-level meetings included talks with executives at Octagon Brazil and AEG, some of the largest sports marketing and entertainment organizations in the world.

SIM student Tyson Claure said these meetings were useful, as they enabled him to “learn more about [the executives’] way of thinking and see the context and magnitude of the different sports entities.”

SIM Global Sporting Immersion Program

For the last seven years, the Sports Industry Management Program at Georgetown has given students an opportunity to learn first-hand how large-scale sporting events are orchestrated.

Former students in the program have gone on international trips to China, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Program administrators are planning to add an international sports management program in the Doha campus, Qatar, where the World Cup will be held in 2022.

“What’s important for our students to recognize is that the sports industry has become a global industry, which is something that our program has emphasized from the very first semester,” Goldwater said.

Putting America in Perspective

SIM students who participate in the global immersion program learn to contextualize the American sports industry in comparison with other countries’.

“I think it shows them how good the American sports market is,” said Lynn. He added that students begin to consider “how we take those best practices [from the U.S.] and export them to Brazil and to England and to China, India and to different markets we want to be going into."

The students shared and documented their experiences in Brazil on the program’s blog with topics ranging from meetings with executives to cultural festivals to venue visits.

As SIM student Bonnie Hayes wrote: “A lot of us see this trip as a week-long job interview; a main stage to showcase our talents and hopefully earn our dream careers.”

“Some are excited about immersing themselves in the culture, while others are looking for strategic ways to meet their favorite athletes.”

“I have all three in mind.”