(*MSBA is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)
Since 2012, the Manhattan Sports Business Academy (MSBA) has provided one of the most comprehensive educational experiences the industry has to offer. Over 100 students have gone through the eight-week program with nearly all of them moving on to full-time careers throughout the sports.
For college students unsure of what specific area of sports they would like to move into, the program tries to give students an all-encompassing look at sub-sections of sport like sales, event production, law, marketing, and many others. This was at the forefront of founder Ben Sturner’s thinking when he created the program’s curriculum.
“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I was graduating college,” Sturner remembered. “I did some television production internships with NBC and ESPN, I did PR, and I eventually I found my way into sponsorships and working on the brand marketing side. Being 20 years old and trying to get an internship is very competitive. We wanted to create something where people can understand just how many different career paths there really are within sports.”
Through strong relationships with local pro and college teams in NYC, MSBA has placed 100 percent of the participants in internships or on-the job-learning opportunities. Students also tour companies like the NFL and NBA’s NYC headquarters and get behind-the-scenes looks at world famous venues like Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and the Barclays Center.
“The highlights of my experience were the networking opportunities and all the events we got to go to,” says alum Jessica Thomas, who now works in corporate partnership marketing for the Detroit Red Wings. “We just got to meet so many different people from so many different facets of the industry. We never heard the same thing from two different people.”
Each student is also paired with a mentor for the duration of the summer. This gives students someone to chat with about career goals as well as help them network with potential career opportunities throughout the sports world. The average student actually exits this program with about 100 new Linkedin contacts like genuine connections.
MSBA keeps students busy on this side of things with a series of workshops, mixers, and speaker events every night for the duration of the two-month program. While the technical lessons students take from the program are very important to Sturner and the rest of the staff, camaraderie is also a key part of the MSBA experience.
“The members of MSBA usually bond very well together,” Sturner says. “We really wanted to give students an immersive experience throughout the summer, allowing them all to become colleagues and friends with one another, which hopefully they will be for the rest of their lives.”
In order to create an experience that students can’t get anywhere else, Sturner and company created a feeling similar to that of places like sports academies where participants work very hard with their cohort, thus allowing them to build those relationships with each other.
“I liken MSBA to tennis academies where athletes train very hard and are with a small group of people constantly. That’s what we have for those looking for a career in the business side of sports.”
Alumni of the program can speak for the curriculum’s effectiveness in teaching them what it takes to have a long and productive career in the sports world.
“The biggest lesson that MSBA taught me is that being a fan will only get you so far in this business. You will burn out very quickly if the only reason you’re doing this is to try and get paid to be a fan. MSBA prepared us for the tenacity and willingness that you’re going to have to show to advance in this industry,” says 2014 alum Fred Stillman, now working with clients — the likes of which include MLB players Clayton Kershaw, Dexter Fowler, and Kyle Schwarber — at Excel Sports Management in New York City.
Ethan Shibutani, a 2013 alum and now a growth marketing specialist at DraftKings, echoes this sentiment.
“No doubt, MSBA was a catalyst for my professional development. Not only did MSBA allow me to uncover new skill sets and push me professionally, it paved the road that landed me in my current job,” Shibutani says. “Aside from playing a key role in my summer experience, MSBA’s network is full of professionals willing to put in the time to help you jumpstart your career even after the program is over. As the quality of the program continues to flourish, and as we all grow collectively in the business together, I’m proud to call myself an MSBA alum.”
One alum, Kevin Paul (2015), is actually in the midst of returning to MSBA as the academy’s newest program director.
“I really feel like I grew a lot as a professional and as a person through my involvement with MSBA,” Paul says. “I’m looking forward to giving all of our students the best possible summer individually. We try to cater to the student as much as possible by finding their individual strengths and putting them in the right internships.”
Not only do MSBA’s past participants love the results of the program, they thoroughly enjoy the process of participating as well.
“MSBA provided an experience both invaluable and game-changing,” shares Chris Stathos (2013), partnership activation coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. “In just eight weeks, the close relationships I made — and continue to maintain to this day — with my classmates are unique and unparalleled, and it’s extremely rewarding to see most of us getting our sports careers underway.
“No doubt, we have the MSBA program, its staff, and our mentors to thank for giving us exposure to one another and to some of the industry’s best. I can confidently say that MSBA is one of the smartest professional decisions I’ve ever made.”
(*MSBA is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports)
The cutoff for applications for the summer 2019 program is February 28. Students interested in applying can click here for more information.