Category Archives: Sports

Student Athlete tackles MBA Program by Evan Shirreffs

Beginning A New Challenge

It was the spring of my final year at the University of Miami. With graduation looming as a bittersweet moment only a few months away, I was left with two options: start my career in the real world or pursue an MBA with my last two years of eligibility in football. While both choices fostered great upsides, I chose to pursue my MBA as it became apparent that football was too large a part of my life to let go of. Thus, I began my search for the ideal university to meet my needs.

I struck gold when I came across the campus of UNC Charlotte, a school that I knew little about despite being only three hours from home back in Georgia. A quick drive up I-85 told me all that I needed to know; I had found my new home in this not too big, not too small city.

Situated in the Queen City, UNC Charlotte and its subsequent location proved to have everything I was looking for. An up and coming football team with all of the potential to become a nationally-known program, a flexible MBA program that paired well with the demanding hours of football, and a lively Uptown area filled with endless possibilities for young professionals looking to succeed in business.

 

Starting Anew

After committing to Charlotte, questions began to build surrounding my upcoming experience as an MBA student. What would it be like to start all over again in a new city? Would the classes be as taxing as undergrad? What would my classmates be like? As the questions swirled, so did my own answers in the form of expectations. To ease my tensions, I told myself it was just some more school; it would be the same as high school and undergrad. Although I was somewhat right, most of my expectations were far from reality.

As time passed in the MBA program, I realized how it differed from undergrad studies. Classes actually encompassed learning and growing instead of memorization and repetition. I began to soak up information from not just my professors, but other students in my classes. All of my classes were filled with people older than me by 5, 10, and sometimes 20 years. As intimidating as this seemed at first, it could not have been any better for my development.

Despite my lack of traditional professional experience, I was lucky enough to hear the real-life experience of all of my classmates who already had years of experience in various fields: engineering, entrepreneurship, music, healthcare, you name it. Everyone seemed to have a unique story and everyone seemed to think differently. Mixers, guest speaker, and other MBA events soon became regular parts of my schedule to meet people and build friendships.

 

Becoming Situated

Comfort came in accepting the different perspectives of my peers. They enjoyed my young optimism; I enjoyed their experienced pessimism. I was often able to learn what not to do without having to experience some of the rock-bottom stories shared by my peers.

Do not get me wrong, moving to a new place and essentially starting over is one of the hardest things to go through in life, but luckily, I have been able to realize the magnitude of the impact this move has had on my future. As I thought the new school and city could not get any better, an unexpected cherry was placed on top of an already promising experience.

 

Seeing the World

Throughout undergrad, I had dreamed of studying abroad, but with football occupying my time and energy, this merely remained a dream. Charlotte turned this into a reality when I got a random email about a trip to Europe during winter break. It was a two-week seminar course in Lyon, France during the only time of the year that I had off from football. It truly put into perspective the great opportunity I had seized in packing up from a promising future in Miami to move to an up and coming program at Charlotte. The Queen City has proved to have everything I was searching for in a school, football team, social life, business opportunity, and unexpected fruition of my dreams.

Cost Benefit of Being a Student Athlete

The Cost/Benefit of Being a Student Athlete by Evan Shirreffs

Picture walking out of your dorm room at 5am on a Friday morning with a jug of water in one hand and a granola bar in the other. With sleep still in your eyes you’re wondering, “what will the workout be like today? Intense conditioning or a grueling squat day?”

Then, as you reach the door to the parking lot, you encounter a few students stumbling around, standing in their outfits from the evening before. One of them lost their student ID at some point during the night in between shots of liquor and their failed attempt at chasing after that one cute girl from Calculus class. Lucky for them, here you come to the rescue before they pass out in the bushes.

During my first few weeks on campus as a football player at the University of Miami, this moment put into perspective what the following few years would encompass.

Sooner or later, every student-athlete has experienced a similar moment that made them realize the depths of dedication it takes to play a sport in college. To say it is a job is honestly an understatement. Do not even get me started with compensation, but the pure will it even takes to commit to such a rigorous lifestyle is much more demanding than any job could ever be, and that’s coupled with much less reward.

What job is so physically taxing that by the end of an early morning lift session, you need to take a nap before most of your colleagues are even awake? What job gives you twice as much “optional” work as mandatory work, yet expects all of it to still get done despite the repeated statements that, “school comes before football?” If this was truly the case, then why would my only free time to study be after hours in the library with the thought of that early morning practice distracting my efforts to learn the importance of a balance sheet, or developing a business model for a business world that I have only heard of in theory and not yet experienced?

Learning class material was never the issue for me. It’s a bit easier to go into an exam with a general concept of what will be on it, and BS an answer that will satisfy your professor. If you BS your preparation for football however, you will be exposed by your opponent. And he will let you know about it before you even get to the sideline to get ripped by your coaches and teammates as well. As a quarterback, I need to know everything that all the other ten guys on the field are doing. The amount of focus it takes to go through hours of daily practice, meetings, and film is something that is quite difficult to understand until you must do it. No other position is like that; few positions in business are like that either.

Yet with all the challenges involved, the cool thing about committing to something like this lifestyle is the absence of regret, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing everything in your power to succeed, even if the venture results in failure. In a society so focused on perfection, it is hard to see the value in failure. Football has taught me that success is never possible without failure.

I have lost battles for starting jobs, had coaches that did not believe in my style of play, I missed games because of injuries, not performed when my number was called, but none of that is what defines me. Failure not only showed me that I was not as badass as I thought by beating me down during some of the toughest moments of my life, but it gave me the opportunity to overcome obstacles during those times that makes success so much sweeter.

Failure gives you the chance to learn how to respond when things are not going your way. It humbles you when you most need it. This has been the single most impactful lesson learned from football. When you accept that the outcome you are working so hard for may not be attainable, you learn to fall in love with the grind and process of even giving yourself the opportunity to reach the result you are striving for.

As I sit behind my computer screen gathering my thoughts on my final collegiate football season to come, and my eventual “transfer” into the real world of business, I cannot help but smile at the opportunities ahead. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know that nothing I face in life will be as hard as the days of being a student-athlete. I understand that there is so much to still be learned, but there is no doubt in my mind that I will be successful in whatever career path I take. In all honesty, I just fear not finding that one thing in the real world that I am as passionate about as football. But I know that when I find it, I will make a difference in this world.

-Evan Shirreffs

March Madness and Project Management

 

Every March around the country the attention of the sports world turns to basketball. March Madness has provided some of the most memorable moments in the world of sports including NC State coach Jim Valvano celebrating on the court with his team after upsetting the favored University of Houston to win a national championship. On Thursday the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament continues with the Sweet Sixteen vying for a spot in the Elite Eight and finally the opportunity to compete in Minneapolis for an opportunity to play in the Final Four and cut down the nets as National Champions.

 

The stars of the tournament stand out through last minute buzzer beaters and crazy blocked shots. While the results and performance on the court will stand out and be remembered, decisions which shaped the teams in the tournament are varied and years in the making. A complex series of decisions must be by the staff. Coaches must make their recruiting class strong to complete their roster for game day decisions. Once players are with the staff must decide how to use players in the most effective ways with their different skill sets.

 

 

Beyond the impressive baskets which live on in highlight reels are a series of complex decisions that shape the core of the team involving which players are on the court during important times. The major actions which set up great stat lines include conditioning and focusing on making the simple actions stand out.

 

Before any major on the court play can occur the structures and support need to be in place to ensure players can play at the highest level. Great coaches can create situations where good players become great players and average players become good overperforming what many would expect of them.

 

Sports provides valuable insights and life lessons which is much greater than the outcome of a game including how to manage a team, how to play beyond your resources, and a great opportunity for young people to gain leadership skills. Many skills from the sports world mirror difficult situations in business including dealing with adversity, working together on projects managed by a holistic team, and accomplishing tasks above and beyond expectations. Coaches and players need to work together to accomplish little goals in order to strengthen their team and to stand out and win. These ideas can be transformed from the court and into the business world with practice and understanding, by focusing on the small goals a much better final product can be produced.

 

While the big games pop up on your tv screen this weekend keep in mind how many little decisions made the teams who they are. If sports can teach you one thing it is to focus on the simple things and acknowledge what you do right in order to improve your overall work. Everyone can learn and improve by focusing on the simple things and staying on target and staying focused.  Mapping out a series of steps to accomplish your goals, reward yourself and your team for accomplishing steps, and constantly seeking feedback is the way to construct a successful basketball team as well as improving projects within your own professional and personal life.

 

Sport Business Spotlight

The world is fascinated with sports. Interest in sports spurs massive economic and cultural influences that can be felt at regional and national levels. During the Olympics, it seems as if the world is collectively holding its breath waiting to see how the world’s greatest athletes perform on the top stage. The World Cup takes the hopes and aspirations of countries and puts them on the back of a national soccer team. These global sporting events do not just attract fans but also catch the attention of marketing departments of Multinational corporations. In the United States, the media and advertising hype surrounding the Super Bowl becomes an annual winter tradition where the moves made by league executives and marketing companies is just as important and dramatic as the play on the football field in early February.

 

The business angle of sports is far reaching and goes well beyond the field of play. From sports contracts, licensing agreements, and major development around stadiums the world of sports has a major economic impact. Sports is an industry that is extremely visible and in the 24-hour news cycle the ability of influencer athletes has only grown and will continue to grow in coming years.

 

The world of sports is massive with impacts ranging from local spending at stadiums to global campaigns behind some of the largest products in the world. Sports is so much more than what is seen through the athletic fields of competition. The business side of the sports world influences everything from developing new stadiums to the wide world of sports broadcasting. Above all else sports is a major economic player that is here to stay.

 

Sports teams and annual sporting events often serve as the platforms of regional tourism and identity. For many people the first thought they have about Kentucky is of big hats, mint juleps, and the early May running of the Kentucky Derby. The state of Kentucky uses horse racing to symbolize the values and attitudes which the state wants to share on the national and international stage to draw in tourists year-round. Large sporting events draw in many tourists and can attract international interest.

 

Many regional and city governments are forced to make difficult decisions about stadium financing and put the tax payers on the hook to finance renovation and development of new stadiums. The money and role of public financing behind stadiums raises many questions about access, affordability, and what role the government should have in financing projects. Sports do provide a boost for the economy, but a deeper dive is needed to understand the complexities behind the economic impact sports provide and accountability must be taken on behalf of tax payers who subsidize these large projects.

 

The world of sports combines so many different businesses and is as unique as the difference between major sports. From the huge influence sports media has, as one of the key broadcasts followed by people in today’s fragmented media landscape to the team executives who run the operations behind top teams the influence of sports is massive and goes far beyond the results from the playing field.

 

Sports will continue to garner interest around the globe and large amounts of money from sponsors and consumers alike. The sports industry sits at an intersection of public interest, politics, and business making it a vital aspect of identity and culture for a region.