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Madkour, executive editor of SportsBusiness Journal and Sports Business Daily with SPTE students during visitLeading sports business editor speaks to USC Sport & Entertainment Management students

“Don’t ever think you know enough about the sports business. The moment you do, that’s when you start to fall behind.”

That was the advice from Abe Madkour, executive editor of the SportsBusiness Journal and Sports Business Daily, addressing University of South Carolina Sport and Entertainment Management (SPTE) students on September 26, 2012 as part of a new monthly breakfast series hosted for the university’s SPTE Living & Learning Community.

Launched at USC in 2011, the SPTE Living & Learning Community is an on-campus group for students designed to enhance the overall educational environment for sport and entertainment management majors. The program locates SPTE majors in the same housing complex while offering special programs and events developed around the sport and entertainment management major. It encourages additional interaction among students with faculty, staff and business leaders outside the classroom and helps advise students on internships and career preparation.

The Sept. 26 presentation by Madkour marked the first of many planned morning breakfast guest speakers in 2012 for students in the SPTE Living & Learning Community. It also marked Madkour’s first official visit to USC’s sport and entertainment management program, which is now the largest undergraduate program of its kind in the country.

Based out of Charlotte, N.C., Madkour is considered one of most respected thought leaders in today’s sports industry, and in particular on issues where sports and politics intersect. A former senate staff member in Vermont, he now heads up a trade publication read by millions, including key influencers in the sports industry – everyone from league commissioners, owners and general managers to athletes, agents and academics.

“It’s really the go-to publication for executives in the sports industry and anyone aspiring to work in sports,” said Todd Koesters, assistant professor in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management and the person responsible for bringing Madkour to speak at USC.

“This is a big deal for our students to have Abe Madkour on campus,” he added. “And to have him one-on-one in a private setting like this – not many people get that, let alone college students.”

The talk was closed to students in the SPTE Living & Learning Community and members of the Sport and Entrainment Management Club at USC, as well as SPTE faculty and staff. Students listened to Madkour discuss key trends in the sports industry; trends that Madkour says aspiring professionals will need to keep a close eye on.

“Technology’s impact on people deciding to stay at home instead of attending a live sporting event – that’s a big challenge and it’s keeping [sports franchise] owners up at night,” said Madkour. “And this issue isn’t going away anytime soon, which means that you’ll likely need to be a part of the solution.”

Abe Madkour speaking to USC SPTE students
Abe Madkour speaking to University of South Carolina SPTE students

Madkour also pointed to social media as a trend to watch. He said things like Twitter, online video and mobile technology have become game-changers in the way media covers sports. And according to Madkour, social media has also opened doors for new jobs inside the sports industry. Titles are now beginning to show up across each of the “big four” professional sports leagues for positions such as social media coordinator, online video marketer, and even VP of social media marketing for a professional sports team, said Madkour.

So what does it take to crack working in today’s global sports industry? It’s a common question that comes with an even more common response for sport and entertainment management students.

“Sure, you’ve all heard it before – sports is and will always be a ‘who you know’ business,” said Madkour. “But what you should really be paying attention to is ‘who knows you!’”

Madkour stressed the importance of getting connected, but more importantly making the right impressions.

“Internships, volunteering, networking functions, industry seminars; these are all fantastic ways to get out there and make a name for yourself. But there’s a lot more to it than that. You need to do good by others. Be ethical. Be honest. And be a team player. I don’t go out of my way for a person that doesn’t reflect well.”

And having someone like Madkour go out of his way could mean the all the difference for professionals looking to enter the sports business, said professor Dr. Andy Gillentine, chair of USC’s Sport and Entertainment Management Department.

“Abe’s influence is felt throughout the sports industry and on a global scale,” said Gillentine. “It doesn’t matter what sport or where. When Abe writes a story or vouches for someone, the most important people are taking note. Do good by someone like Abe and you’re off and running in this industry.”

“Mr. Madkour showed us how interconnected every segment of this industry is and how essential each part is to the success of sport,” said SPTE junior Melissa Hirsch. “In this relationship-driven industry where who you know opens more doors than a well written cover letter, networking with professionals like Abe Madkour puts us at a huge advantage in our future internship and career endeavors. It's all about networking and the SPTE professors are pulling all the strings they have to get us in contact with the best and brightest minds in the sport and entertainment industry.”

“His wealth of knowledge about the current trends in the sport and entertainment industry produced a very insightful discussion, especially on effective social media usage,” said senior and SPTE Club president Sarah Haile. “As a student interested in a career in sports public relations, it was extremely valuable to have the opportunity to learn from a distinguished veteran of the industry and gain his advice on how to advance our careers." 

The final words from Madkour to SPTE students: “Stay the Course.”

For additional information about the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management and the SPTE Living & Learning Community, contact Dr. Andy Gillentine at 803-777-4690 or visit the SPTE website.

 

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