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Sports Management Program Featured on Netflix’s Formula F1: Drive to Survive

Episode 5 of the new season of the Netflix show Formula F1: Drive to Survive opens with footage from the Columbia University 2023 Sports Management Conference. The episode focuses on Otmar Szafnauer, a former Alpine Formula 1 team principal who spoke at the conference and during a private fireside chat with Columbia’s Sports Management students the evening prior.

The episode opens with Szafnauer walking through Columbia’s campus, meeting the Sports Management program team, speaking at the conference, and answering questions from students in the audience. In the conference keynote interview, conducted by the CEO of Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment, Chris Lencheski, Szafnauer discussed why Formula 1 is essentially a technology development company, how to work toward a shared goal, and the importance of empathy when building a team.

“Species that collaborate survive. Species that are selfish go extinct,” says Szafnauer to conference attendees. “High-performing teams are the same.”

Otmar Szafnauer at the Sports Management Conference being interviewed by the Netflix film crew.

Otmar Szafnauer being interviewed by the Netflix film crew at the 2023 Sports Management Conference.


“Hosting Otmar Szafnauer and the Drive to Survive team was a wonderful experience for our students, faculty, and staff,” said Scott Rosner, a professor of professional practice and the program director of the Columbia Sports Management program. It gave everyone the opportunity to learn from an industry legend, a world-class leader, and a true gentleman. It is yet another example of a unique experience that our program has been fortunate enough to provide for our students.”

The annual Columbia Sports Management Conference brings sports industry leaders and Sports Management program faculty together to discuss critical topics in sports business. The conference gives students in the program access to professionals in all sports industry sectors, allowing them to network and learn from experts like Szafnauer.

The conference welcomes leaders from organizations and companies including Madison Square Garden, Major League Baseball (MLB), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Major League Soccer (MLS), NBC Sports, and Fox Sports Media Group.

Read more about the 2023 Sports Management Conference here, watch the full keynote interview with Szafnauer here, and stay tuned via our website for information about our 2024 Sports Management Conference in the fall. 

About the Program

The Columbia University M.S. in Sports Management provides students with a comprehensive curriculum and access to sports industry practitioners and influencers. Students acquire skills in areas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, global sports management, facility and event management, and sports law and ethics.