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Plan, Lead, Organize and Control: The Need for Educated and Trained Sport Managers

Whether a Little League game or the World Series, a spectator's experience is influenced by the way the event is managed. While most people see the throw to first base and remember the hockey fight, they pay little attention to how the event is produced. A well-managed event looks as though it runs itself, and that is how it should be. From ticket sales and parking to concessions and merchandise sales, consumers demand a high-quality sport experience, which makes the need for educated and trained sport managers essential. As faculty in the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department at Colby-Sawyer who teach within the Sport Management Program, we believe engaged learning is crucial to student success in the sport industry.

One of Colby-Sawyer's greatest strengths is its small class sizes, which allows faculty and staff to foster learning and professional development through innovative methods. Students in the Sport Management major are given assignments that require engaged learning, such as observing, volunteering and conducting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses of on- and offcampus events. Students are then expected to plan, lead, organize and control events. In recent years, Sport Management majors have worked with the Exercise and Sport Sciences Club, the Sport Management Club, New London Recreation Department, the Kearsarge Council on Aging (KCOA), and the campus community at large.

One of the most memorable and successful events has been the Battle of Classes in the fall of 2009. The focus of this event was to bring together students in every class to compete in three events: Kick Ball, Tug-o-War and Team Handball. More than 300 students participated, with the junior class edging out its peers for the final victory. A similar event organized in the fall of 2012 was a competition between residence halls.

Additional events organized by Sport Management students have included a Team Handball Tournament in 2012, a Zumbathon® in 2011 and a Sport and Wellness Festival in 2010. Both the handball tournament and Zumbathon attracted between 80 and 100 students, faculty and staff. At the Zumbathon, participants donated more than 50 pounds of food to benefit a local food pantry.

The Sport and Wellness Festival, hosted by senior Sport Management majors and the KCOA, was inspired by interactions between the two groups during the spring semester. Students taught KCOA members how to use the Wii Sports electronic game system, and the activity was so successful that the students incorporated the feature into the Sport and Wellness Festival. Low-impact activities such as badminton and yoga were also offered, while local health-related businesses provided participants with health and wellness information.

In spring 2011, senior Sport Management students worked with former New London Recreation Director Chad Denning to create and promote Team Athletes Multisport Partnership (AMP). Team AMP specializes in hosting unique outdoor activities for all ages and abilities, including XTERRA events, the Western New Hampshire Trail Running Series, and the Winter Wild Uphill Series. Students worked behind the scenes with Denning to create a formal business plan, design a company logo, develop a website, and secure sponsorship. Their contributions can be seen at www.teamamp.org.

As Sport Management faculty, we have seen firsthand that significant learning occurs through students' ability to plan, lead, organize and control events. This learning, however, is best expressed by the students themselves who rely on handson experience to prepare them for their future. Sport Management major Laura Tebbetts '14 says, “Through my experiences with planning and organizing events for Sport Management, I have learned the importance of goal setting and motivating others.”

“Running events for the Sport Management program at Colby-Sawyer has really helped me actively participate in what I am learning,” says fellow Sport Management major Jesse Socci '15. “The experiences are great and range from facility tours and putting on events for the college to volunteering at the Boston Marathon, and more. This is very important because students can apply out of class what they learn in class.”

Greg Austin and Stacey Watts

Greg Austin is associate professor and Stacey Watts is assistant professor in the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department.


Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000