Professionals Gather to Show Students Fields Beyond “The Field”
By Conner Quinn, 12th Grader
On April 21, 2010 The High School of Sports Management hosted its “Diversity in Sports” Spring Symposium. This is the first time The “HSSM” emphasized the importance of Diversity in Sports. This subject is important to The HSSM because many students apply to the school under the assumption that just because the name has Sports in it, that they focused on athletics. Nonetheless, The HSSM focuses specifically on the business. The HSSM Diversity in Sports Spring Symposium presented “Fields Beyond the Field”, which introduced our students to the array of opportunities for those in pursuit of a career in the sport industry.
The HSSM, which opened 5 years ago, specializes in the inner workings of the sports industry and exposes its students to all the opportunities that the industry holds. The dedication to having successful students is what motivates the faculty to have Sports Symposiums. Principal, Robin Pitts, understands that in order to promote an interest in the business side of sports the students must be exposed to actual professionals.
Prior to this symposium, there have been others that had employees from the NBA offices, the NY Giants, and other sports companies. However, the 2010 Spring Sports Symposium had the most “Star” power.
Featured speakers and panelists included, Pat O’Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, Ben Sturner, CEO of Leverage Agency and sponsor of Princeton Sports Symposium, Steve Cohen, General Manager of the Brooklyn cyclones, writer/credentialed microblogger Peter Robert Casey, and co-founder of the first professional women’s league, Pam Batalis, just to name a few.
Additional panelists, group leaders included; Melvin Rodriguez – UMass, Professor Gene Spatz – LIU Sports Sciences, Joe Branch – U Want Game, Adler Merveille – SME Branding, Candice Haynes – Sports & Arts in Schools/Outlet Sports & Recreation, Beth Rasin – PowerPlay, NYC, Julian Gunder – New York Times, and Karie Henderson – Nike. We had special guests Huey Ferguson and Trisha Guy from Municipal Credit Union, Steve McEvoy and additional representatives from the Brooklyn Cyclones, Minor League Baseball, NBA, Road Runners, St. John’s University, and the Lafayette High School UFT.
The format consisted of a plenary address from Ben Sturner and introductions from the panelists. Following this, they broke into a round table format so students could have a more intimate experience. Each table had 2 panelists with about 8 students. The students were able to ask any question that came to mind. Monitoring the round table discussion were student moderators; Kevin Davis, Nicholas Henry, Jazmin Hernandez, Gerson Lima, and Conner Quinn. Students formed relationships with our interactive leaders, and as a result secured internships for themselves and sponsorships for our 4th Annual Celebrity/Charity Softball Game on June 5, 2010 at Brooklyn Cyclones Stadium, which raises money for our scholarship fund.
Next, was the keynote address from Pat O’Conner. In his address O’Conner made an interesting point “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, so you can listen more than you speak.” O’ Conner added, “Work hard every day; never leave anything on the table.”
The symposium was greatly student driven. Students were in charge of contacting the panelists, setting up, and hosting the event.
More than twenty invited guests participated. Steve Cohen said “This was huge!” Pat O’Conner remarked that he “had attended many conferences on behalf of Minor League Baseball, a $750 million enterprise, this one ranked with the best of them.” Ben Sturner commented that he cancelled an appointment with the chairman of a professional sports team to attend this symposium. Perhaps the best observation came from Professor Spatz, director of Sport Sciences at LIU; “I was impressed with the professionalism of the student moderators and their eloquence as speakers, as well as the attentiveness and engagement of the students attending the event.” Students also observed, “This was the best symposium yet, the format was excellent and the panel was big-time.”