The second annual SPS Sports Business Conference was held on campus at Faculty House on Friday, October 18. The breadth and quality of the speakers, programming, and attendees reflect the continued growth and impact of the M.S. in Sports Management program.
The day featured over 40 speakers, as well as 250 attendees representing over a dozen colleges and universities from as far as California. The trio of keynote speakers, LA2028 Chief Revenue Officer Kathy Carter, New York Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, and NBC Sports President, Programming of NBC Sports Jon Miller talked openly and honestly about topics ranging from learning from failure, to empathy and inclusion in the workplace, to the changing landscape of engagement measurement and the future of broadcast media.
Attendees learned about the current and future state of startup sports, the NFL, the gambling space, brand engagement, business intelligence, the global soccer landscape, lacrosse, and the XFL, among other topics.
“When we looked at doing a conference, we wanted to do something that would give our students, alumni, and faculty, and the wider Columbia University something they could not easily find somewhere else,” said Scott Rosner, Academic Director of the Sports Management Program and Professor of Professional Practice. “We didn’t want to present the same old; we wanted to create meaningful dialogue both on stage and among our attendees, and I think we really made some great progress in that area as we continue to refine our best in class program.”
One of the goals of the conference was to hear from new and diverse voices in the sports business world. Carter, who took on the job to build the massive revenue needed for the Los Angeles Olympics nine years from now, made one of her first speaking stops since assuming the role earlier this year. The NFL’s COO Hans Schroeder and Instagram’s Dev Sethi also imparted rarely heard insights to the crowd. Columbia faculty, including longtime soccer executive Sunil Gulati and former NBA star (and Harvard educated attorney) Len Elmore, also gave their unique points of view on topics of the day. The conference wrapped up with a panel on leadership that featured three rising female stars in the business: the National Lacrosse League’s Jessica Berman, the XFL New York Guardians' President Janet Duch, and BSE Global’s Kari Cohen.
“What we loved about the day was the openness of our speakers to not just give the same stories and take on situations; they were inspiring with their diversity of thought, and most came away surprised with the level of conversation that happened away from the stage,” Rosner added. “I have never seen a team owner like Jon Ledecky, who has a pretty busy schedule, stay around and sit in the audience to listen and learn from others. That says a lot about the experience we delivered.”