This week, the Wharton Undergraduate Sports Business Club and the Wharton Sports Business Initiative will host the third annual Wharton Sports Business Summit, an all-day conference featuring industry leaders in sports business.
The conference will take place on Friday, Nov. 8. and will feature keynote speakers, panels, and a case competition from Deloitte Sports. Panel topics include “Sports Marketing,” “The State of Football Analytics,” and “Finance, M&A, and Investing in Sports,” according to the event website.
Keynote speakers include Scott O’Neil, 1991 Wharton graduate David Blitzer, and Michael Rubin. O’Neil is the CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which has the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, and Delaware Blue Coats in its portfolio. Blitzer is co-managing partner and co-chairman at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, as well as the global head of Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities group. Rubin is the founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, the leading global company for licensed sports merchandise.
The speakers will be interviewed by moderators Eric Bradlow, Marketing Department chair and vice dean of Analytics at Wharton, and Darren Rovell, sports business reporter and senior executive producer at the Action Network.
Wharton Undergraduate Sports Business Club President Andrew Castle, a Wharton junior, said one of the most challenging parts of planning such a large-scale event was finding speakers in advance.
“We need to get speakers far in advance in order to actually sell tickets and know how many people are coming, but the problem is, speakers don’t want to commit that far in advance,” Castle said.
Castle said, however, that finding speakers will be easier as the event becomes more established.
“As we’ve grown the event each year, it makes it a lot easier to get speakers if they can look and say, ‘Oh, this thing’s legit, you’ve done it in the past. These great people spoke last year,’” he said.
Castle estimated that students will make up about 80% of attendees at the conference. While most will be from Penn, students from other colleges and universities, such as Stanford, also plan to attend.
The conference will also feature a case competition presented by Deloitte Sports. The prompt is: “How can the NFL (or NBA – any professional sports league) embrace the new world of player empowerment in a way which incentivizes collaboration between the league, players, teams, and their respective social media platforms, to mutually benefit from their huge brands?”
Castle said player empowerment and social media have changed the way professional athletes are marketed.
“Players these days have their own platform, whereas in the past a sports team would be responsible for marketing a player,” Castle said. He noted that it is difficult for teams to navigate the issue of whether or not to regulate what views or content players promote on their social media, and how this affects the “brand image” of the team.
Teams of 4-6 students have prepared responses to the prompt, and the top five teams will be picked to present at the conference in front of Deloitte judges, who will select a final winner.
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