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High Society — sports business org grows during first year

by Alexandra Fileccia / Beacon Correspondent • April 25, 2012

Nearly a year ago, the Emerson College Sports Business Society’s membership consisted of five friends tossing around ideas for an organization that would explore sports entrepreneurship. 

Now, in its mere two semesters of existence, the fledgling group has brought several guest speakers, hosted an intramural flag-football tournament, and grown to include a sports-centric blog with roughly a dozen different contributors and more than 11,000 views.

Jake Bennett, the vice president of the society, said the success of the organization comes from the large number of students interested in sports-related careers at Emerson. 

“Most people here aren’t going pro,” said Bennett, a junior visual and media arts major, “but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a job in sports without being an athlete.”

The Sports Business Society is not without its growing pains. The executive board said one of the biggest challenges for the future will be securing SGA funding. In the fall of 2011, the group applied to be approved by SGA as an organization. Junior Nadav Swarttz, the society’s president, said he and his staff wrote up a constitution and filled out the application, but were then denied and not told why. He said they plan to reapply next fall.

If they were SGA-recognized, they would have more funds for events, said Vice President of Operations Cheyenne Cantor. With the extra money, Swarttz said the group would be able to host speakers that require compensation — all the professionals thus far have spoken for free.

Though the group is not an SGA-approved organization, it has not stopped it from hosting many events. 

In the past, the organization held events with speakers such as Ted Tye, a partial owner of NBA development team the Maine Red Claws and the founder and former board chairman of the Worcester Tornadoes, a minor league professional baseball team, and Ronnie Forchheimer, the ESPN senior director responsible for the video on all ESPN digital platforms. Forchheimer is an Emerson alumnus.

Swarttz said he was a little surprised that more people didn’t come to see the speakers.

“These speakers are well-established professionals,” said Swarttz, “people to network with — people you’re not going to meet in your everyday life.”

Attendance has been sporadic on occasions — about 70 students played in the flag-football tournament, but only about 15-20 attended a presentation by Rehan Hussain, the founder of Orpster, a type of sports stock market.

One of the specific focuses the organization has for next year will be to continue to increase in size. Swarttz said he hopes the society will gain more recognition around campus and plans to have a table at next semester’s organization fair. Cantor said the sports journalism panel — which was cosponsored by the Beacon — was the most successful event. 

“We don’t really have any sports business classes to take,” said Cantor, a sophomore marketing communication major. “There’s one sports journalism class I know.”

The panel included: Frank Shorr, a sports journalism professor at Boston University; Marc D’Amico, the Internet Operations Coordinator for the Boston Celtics; David Carty, a sports reporter at The Sun Chronicle and sports editor for the Foxboro Reporter; Nick Coit, the sports anchor and reporter for WABI in Bangor, Maine; and Adam Jones, the host of ESPN Boston radio. Both Carty and Coit are Emerson alumni.

For next year, Swarttz said he plans to organize another panel, though he said he is not sure of what nature. The society also intends to sponsor another flag football tournament and other sporting events, in addition to bringing in more industry professionals and Emerson alumni to speak .

Swarttz, who will be a senior next semester, said that he plans to remain involved with his brainchild even after his Emerson career comes to an end.

“I’m hoping to come back once I graduate and check out how everything’s going,” said Swarttz.