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Delving into the dynamic industry of sport

DBS lecturer Dr Michael Naraine echoes his passion for sport management.

With a lifetime of interest and work in the sport industry, Dr Michael Naraine’s move into academia – and the study of sport management – was a natural and obvious career progression.

A lecturer with the Deakin Business School (DBS), Michael is responsible for delivering undergraduate and postgraduate units in the DBS sport management programs.

‘Specifically, I teach the sport facility and event management unit at both levels, organisational behaviour in sport at the postgraduate level, and I also help out with the sport marketing unit at the undergraduate level,’ he says.

Michael says he was drawn to the study of sport management because of the sport industry’s inherent and unique functions.

‘Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s interwoven into the cultural fabric of society and I find it fascinating to study and understand the complexities of the industry beyond a simple affinity for team performance,’ he explains.

Originally from Canada, Michael’s academic path began at the University of Toronto where he completed an undergraduate degree in political science before a master’s degree in human kinetics specializing in sport management. 

Recently awarded a PhD in human kinetics with a concentration in sport management from the University of Ottawa, he is an active researcher who continues to study the nexus between digital and social media and the sport industry.

‘My primary research focuses on digital and social media management in sport, providing support to sport organisations to develop social strategies and implement new technologies to connect with their stakeholders,’ he explains.  

He also studies conventional (or real-life) social networks that emanate within the sport industry including a variety of intra- and inter-organisational linkages.

‘This innovative research agenda provides the opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of practitioners in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sport industries,’ he says.

Michael has enjoyed numerous career highlights including working with the Canadian Olympic Committee where he offered social media expertise to Canadian national governing bodies of sport including Hockey Canada, Canada Snowboard, and Sail Canada.

‘I’ve also had the great pleasure of being part of a research team that was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee to assess the athlete experience at the 2016 Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games,’ he adds.

He is also currently part of a research team funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to examine new organisational forms within Canadian national governing bodies of sport.

As with many other industries, the sport industry is growing in complexity thanks to globalisation, technological advancements and, in some cases, a deficiency in capacity.

One of the major changes Michael says he’s observed is the shift to strategic, data-driven decision-making processes which produces innovation and organisational effectiveness.

‘The result has been a greater emphasis on pursuing an education in sport management specifically to gain the strategic management competence necessary to excel.’

He adds that the 21st century boom in digital technology will also continue impacting the sport industry with the intensity only likely to increase over the next decade.

‘We have already seen these technological forces at play with smartphone, tablet, and virtual reality viewership of matches, and social media interactions between athletes, fans, and sponsors. However, especially with augmented reality, the sport industry will have a whole new avenue by which offer products and experiences to stakeholders, and that is going to require practitioners to understand, embrace, and strategically manage these developments.’

Michael’s advice for anyone thinking about a career in sport management is to first recognise that it’s a highly-competitive industry with many applicants vying for positions. In addition to a sport management degree, a portfolio of skills and experience will help boost a graduate’s employability profile.

‘Students should also be thinking about how they can "build a better mousetrap". Whether it's knowing and implementing a certain structure or process better than others, understanding how to manage with limited capacity, or even the knowledge to maximize the effectiveness of social media within an organisation – these can all be vital to getting a position and attaining higher management roles.’

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