By Chicago Booth February 23, 2013 Leave a Comment

Many look at sports as pure entertainment, or as in my case, a way to remain somewhat healthy and active. In either case, it’s fascinating to learn more about how decisions are made behind the scenes in sports, media, and entertainment.  

Last Friday I attended the 3rd Annual Chicago Booth MESG Sports Symposium organized and hosted by the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group (MESG) held at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago.  With the theme from Rudy playing as I entered the room, the tone was certainly set for a high energy and excitingly debate driven conference. Close to 75 people attended the event, ranging from current students, alumni, staff, industry experts, and members of the UofC Law School community.  
The conference began with a panel moderated by Scott Meadow, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship.

“Sports Marketing at Scale: Making the Most of your Sponsorship Dollars.”
Panelists came from the United States Olympic Committee, Gatorade, and Discover Financial Services, and showcased their expertise in driving sponsorship efforts and keeping key stakeholders top of mind. They discussed how Sponsorship deals should be considered a true partnership – careful and long-term, as well as deciding what or who is your brand, and how do partnerships convey overall brand message.

After a networking lunch, we delved into currently a very hot topic among sports media: collective bargaining and labor negotiations – the highlight of my day.

“The Evolving Role of Collective Bargaining Agreements & Labor Negotiations.”
It was fascinating to see the business and legal sides of sports collide, and how that can often lead to labor stoppages.  Members of UofC law faculty, Octagon, and Priority Sports & Entertainment made up this panel representing all sides of the sports labor equation.  Conversations revolved around the protection of either players or owners, and how labor markets are regulated and the factors that contribute to these disputes: complicated contracts, performance-based salaries, ability to play in other leagues, rookie vs. veteran contracts, and overall player safety.  With big money, comes big issues.  

If you liked the books Moneyball or Scorecasting by Booth Professor Tobias Moskowitz, you would’ve enjoyed the final panel of the day covering the increased presence of analytics in sports.

“From the Classroom to the Playing Field: How Analytics Have Revolutionized the World of Sports.”
From the President of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) to player personnel on the Cleveland Browns, it was eye-opening to hear more about data and quantitative research is being applied to sports and becoming a critical tool for decision making.  What naturally started in MLB with a plethora of data points has now spread to numerous other professional leagues (NBA, NFL, BPL, PGA). Soft skills are also becoming even more important for those pursuing analytics in sports, and you have to understand the numbers after they’ve been crunched.  In the end though, you have to look at analytics in sports as simply a tool to consider when making decisions.

The day concluded with closing remarks and Q&A session with Tobias Moskowitz fielding questions and talking about the Sports Analytics course at Booth that he teaches with John Huizinga, and Kevin Murphy. This is relatively new course getting rave reviews from students.    

Before I leave you, kudos to the MESG co-chairs for putting on a fantastic event and rally the community around this ever-changing industry. Have a great weekend!


About Chicago Booth

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Since 1898, Booth has produced ideas and leaders that shape the world of business. Our rigorous, discipline-based approach to business education transforms our students into confident, effective, respected business leaders prepared to face the toughest challenges.

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