On Nov. 7-9, the John Molson Sports Marketing (JMSM) Committee held its 18th annual sports business conference. As a non-profit, JMSM’s main goal is to promote business in sports; their message is “Business at hand, Sport at heart.” Every year, they plan a three day sports business conference where students organize conferences and business students are invited from across the nation. These delegates learn and listen to speakers who are in the sports industry today. The main speaker at this year’s conference was Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, who gave the keynote address about his struggles and rewards in life. In the past, the conference has brought in sports agents like Don Meehan and former JMSB student, Julien BriseBois, who is now the Assistant General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Concordian had the chance to interview one of the key members of this year’s team, Anton Sakiz, who was director of PR at the conference.
Q: What is it like planning the conference?
A: It is a very long process. We started planning around May of this year and the workload has kept increasing ever since.
Q: How do people get involved with the conference/JMSM?
A: People registered for JMSM through our website. To make them aware of the conference, we use a mix of social media posts, online advertising and emails sent to business schools associations.
Q: How did you use social networking to interact with people who didn’t have chance to be there?
A: We communicate a lot with the delegates on Twitter. A Facebook group is also set up to help them ask any questions they may have. We have a committee member whose sole purpose is to interact with delegates on social media.
Q: How do you guys contact the speakers?
A: We have a great speaker team who used every mean available to contact speakers, be it by mail, phone or through their various contacts. Once a contact is established they accompany the speakers throughout the conference.
Q: Did you or your team accomplish what you want to do?
A: Yes, we are extremely proud of how JMSM13 turned out. Each panel was a blast, attendance was excellent and the conference went without a hitch, everything coming together as planned.
The first and most hyped-up panel had Greg Campbell, former president of Business Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, Pierre Boivin, former president of the Montreal Canadiens, Chris Wallace, General Manager and VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies and Ned Colletti, General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Colletti and Wallce explained why they came to the JMSM conference. “I know when I was growing up it was always powerful for me to speak to someone who was working in professional sports because I could learn a lot from that person,” he said.
“I haven’t been at conference where you can be involved with young people who have a passion about sports and want to advance it as a career,” said Wallace.
Colletti also gave advice for anyone who wants to work in the sports market. “Get yourself through the door with internships or work for free,” he said.
Greg Campbell, former president of Business Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, had advice for anyone who wants to make it in the sports business. “Sports has small number of teams in North America, you have to find a way into the door,” he said. “Once you are inside, you have to use your skills to show your superiors.”
Wallace also talked about how in big market like Boston you do not need to make a connection with your fans. The Celtics have a history and legacy that is pass on through generations, much like the Montreal Canadiens. However in Memphis they are a first generation team, which means that is hard to get fans interested in them especially when you have great university basketball at the University of Memphis.
The growth of Sports Business
Ian Clarke, MLSE’s chief financial officer; Johanna Miller, digital media and social media specialist with Reebok and CCM; Clare Zovko, a sports law attorney; Andrew Baker, the director of the Olympics games for Canada. Johanna Miller discussed how in today world, kids want to wear a brand of their favourite players such as fan-favourite Sidney Crosby. She also mentioned how CCM and Reebok have a pee wee camp in which young hockey players have the chance to be pro players with training on the ice and off the ice, they have nutrition seminars.
Andrew Baker focused on how the Canadian Olympic committee support athletes who need crowd funding to make to the Olympics where Own the Podium only provides funding for the Canadian athletes who are contending for medals in the Olympics. Baker also stated that the Sochi Olympics are going to be the most expense Olympics for Canada.
Clare Zovko talked about a big issue in college sports today: should student athletes be paid? “Probably, but it would create a lot of problems because institutions who don’t have large budgets may not exist because they aren’t making profit now, she said. “Also schools with large budgets may not exist because they would have to play sports that are non-revenue generated.”
Ian Clarke talked about what it meant for Toronto to be hosting the 2016 NBA all-star game (ASG), as this is the first time that is it not being held in the United States. “It’s put Toronto on the world stage, showcase the great city and it draws great attention in positive ways,” he said. Clark expects that the ASG will bring in $50 million. The ASG will also provide Canada a chance to see NBA all-stars.