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Deakin team takes out runner-up place at the 2018 NSF Case Cup.

A team of Deakin postgraduate sport management students has blitzed its way to an outstanding second place at a prestigious invitation-only USA competition.

As the first international team invited to compete, the Deakin students recently participated in the National Sport Forum (NSF) Case Cup – an annual event where globally-recognised sport programs compete in case study that’s designed to replicate the real-world, sport-industry environment.

Remarkably, the Deakin team members –who are a mix of cloud and campus-based students – only met face-to-face when they first arrived in the USA just 24 hours before the competition.

Deakin sport management lecturer Dr Henry Wear says that once the four students (James Duggan, Arbaaz Akbar, Lisa Crampton and Tom Humphries) were chosen for the team, they immediately connected online and their difference campuses and locations became irrelevant.

‘It never seemed to matter at any point and because of Deakin’s focus on cloud learning they were well equipped to be productive and engage in meaningful relationships. This was very different compared to their US-based competitors, who largely, were all part of the same cohort of students who met several times a week. I think the circumstances in which our students met actually brought them closer together and prepared them to overcome obstacles for the competition,’ he says.

After arriving in Dallas, the four met for the first time on a Friday morning and quickly prepared for the Saturday competition where a total of 11 teams from postgraduate sport management and MBA programs (many ranked internationally) pitted their skills in real-world case scenario competition.

‘The case focused on the PGA Tour as an organisation and presented opportunities for each team to identify future opportunities for consumer growth, digital media engagement, and on-site event product development in order to create a sustained sport product for the future. Prior to the case being passed to each team, a random drawing placed each team in one of three flights, with the winner of each flight moving on to the final to compete against one another,’ explains Dr Wear.

The student were given 24 hours to research, collaborate and create a 20 minute oral pitch to a panel of three judges. After the initial presentation, the team was able to debrief before the winners from each of the three flights were announced.

‘Those three teams then drew timeslots for their second and final presentation in front of a public audience and a panel of 12 judges. After all three teams presented the competition came to close with the winners announced the following day in front of all general conference attendees,’ says Dr Wear.

With a diverse range of domestic and international backgrounds, the Deakin students were able to provide robust presentation skills and practical solutions for the case topic.

‘Each group member presented strongly and clearly and each point of solution was substantiated by both theoretical and industry support. Having knowledge of what the sport industry looks like on a different continent certainly gave the Deakin team an opportunity to explore some out of the box and original solutions that were well received by the judges and audience. I think more than anything, finishing as runners up in a traditionally US competition provided further evidence of the quality of the Deakin Sport Management program, as not simply the best program in Australia, but one of the best programs in the world that trains students to be leaders in sport business across the globe,’ he says.

All the competition participants then stayed on for the NSF which is one of the largest sport industry conferences in the USA and connects a broad cross-section of sports industry professionals representing teams, leagues, agencies and corporate partners.

‘The conference was fantastic,’ says Dr Wear. ‘It had a great mix of industry topics and presenters covering everything from sport consumers, sport events, analytics and eSports. I think our students were exposed to a different sport industry perspective that will truly broaden their holistic understanding of managing sport.

With plans to return to the NSF next year, Dr Wear says it was outstanding experience for the students that provided them with valuable skills and networking opportunities.

‘They were a great group and I’m really proud of the way they came together to achieve their success and I feel fortunate to have been part of their journey. The event was excellent and very well organised with a terrific welcoming atmosphere. We never felt like outsiders despite it being our first trip.’