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The big business of sport: tackling the challenges

After COVID-19 shut down competitive sport across the world, sport business managers are set to play an important role in its comeback.

Even before the world was slammed by a pandemic, the business of sport management required professionals who could perform at the top of their game.

Thanks to the professionalisation and commercialisation of sport over the past 30 years, sport business management has grown into dynamic and often demanding career that requires outstanding communication, negotiation, financial and organisational skills.

But with the impact of COVID-19, there’s even greater challenges for sport management professionals who will play a key role in reviving the industry and finding new ways to work in a new and uncertain environment.

Emerging trends and challenges

In a world now living with COVID-19, sport will be a key player in restoring confidence in safe community participation says Professor David Shilbury, Deakin Business School’s (DBS) Foundation Chair in Sport Management

‘For sport managers, working with a low resource base and delivering an increasingly sophisticated sport product will be exacerbated by COVID pressures in the short term. Added to this, sport integrity also remains an issue with all sports needing in-place governance mechanisms to grapple with match fixing, corruption, and other issues such as anti-doping.’

Prof. Shilbury says the digital world, and its influence on marketing communications, is another significant trend that continues to influence sport marketing strategies.

‘This is also obvious in the possible shift from free-to-air sport broadcasting to streaming through Stan, Kayo and other such providers,’ he adds.

New executive sport management program

To address some of these challenges, DBS has developed the Executive Master of Sport Business, a world-class program that will build on, and enhance, the specialist knowledge of professionals who work in sport management.

‘This program is targeted at industry professionals with at least five years of relevant work experience. It is strategically designed to address a gap in the availability of advanced knowledge for experienced sports professionals working in developed sport markets,’ says Prof. Shilbury.

Delivered fully online, six core units in the Executive Master of Sport Business are offered as five-week innovative learning experiences and the program can be completed in one year of full-time study, or two years part time.

One of its key features is accelerated learning that provides advanced sport business knowledge says Prof. Shilbury.

‘It assumes significant on-the-job experience and the ability to tackle, in a mature way, the vast array of managerial issues confronting the management of sport and sport organisations. It also recognises the level of sophistication that’s now evident in the Australian sport industry and other advanced nations with well-developed sport systems such as Germany, New Zealand, France, the UK, the US and Canada.’

Industry leader in sport management education

Deakin has more than 30 years of experience as an industry leader in sport management education and is a flagship university for integrating sport into business programs.

With a prestigious academic teaching and research career, Prof. Shilbury leads a team of internationally-recognised sport management academics who understand the culture, origins and evolution of sport while being well-versed in mainstream and evolving management and sport management theories.

‘We currently have the largest staff of any sport management program in Australia, with two professors, two senior lecturers and five lecturers, and our existing master’s degree has been globally recognised, recently ranking as high as 3rd in the world,’ he says. 

DBS’s sport management academics all boast strong industry connections and have been represented in industry leadership roles. This includes Editor-in-Chief of leading journals, board membership, and successfully securing industry funding through the AFL, Bowls Australia, Sport and Recreation Victoria, the Australia India Council, and the International Olympic Committee.

‘We are a recognised leader in sport governance scholarship, sport development and participation, women’s sport, leadership and sport marketing, with a focus on sport broadcasting,’ says Prof. Shilbury. 

With a large alumni base working across the global sports’ industry, DBS is also the only Australian business school nominated in the prestigious Sport Business Postgraduate rankings and is renowned for its progressive real-world approach.

The Deakin Business School’s Sport Management team includes:

Professor David Shilbury

Professor Pamm Phillips

Dr Katie Rowe

Dr Steve Swanson  

Dr Jonathon Robertson

Dr Hunter Fujak

Dr Damien Whitburn  

Dr Josh McLeod

Scott Field

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