One van, two weeks, 12 games, nine stadium tours and a chance to learn from top minds in the sports industry. Like many courses in HRSM, Baseball in the Midwest is meant to provide real insight into the industry and connect students with professionals across the country.
For sport and management major Hunter Morris, this course turned his first trip on a plane into a hands-on training program that took him into professional and collegiate venues across the country.
“The first time I ever stepped on a plane was for Baseball and the Midwest,” he said. “We spent a month getting a behind-the-scenes look at different sport venues. To actually see how venues are managed gave me a unique view of the sports industry.”
While sports have been an interest for most of his life, Hunter wasn’t convinced he should pursue sports management.
“When I came to UofSC for admitted student day, the many interactions I had with sport and entertainment management faculty members actually swayed my decision,” he said. “They made me feel that their program was meant to develop the skills needed to enter any related field—in many cases, very business focused.”
Baseball and the Midwest
Hunter flew from Columbia, South Carolina, along with 10 other students to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they boarded the bus that would become their home for the next few weeks. The trip took the class through multiple top-tier sport cities and ended in Houston, Texas.
The class visited iconic venues such as Wrigley Field, the United Center, Notre Dame Stadium, Kansas City Speedway and AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, and many more. At its core, this course is designed to give students an inside look at what goes into planning, marketing and venue management. To do so, students met with the professionals – and some alumni – tasked with making sure the many facets of the event run smoothly.
“It’s so easy to see sports as this huge, glamorous event—and it is. But to step behind the scenes and get a sense of what it takes to run a major sport venue gave me an idea of what I could do beyond my degree,” he said. “To step out of a classroom and see things in practice has gone long way.”
Connect it all in the Classroom
Courses like these provide students with the ability to see beyond their current view of the industry they hope to enter. It offers connections to professionals they hope to one day become. And paired with a rich offering of courses like Sports and Entertainment Services Marketing, Event and Venue Management, Sport and Entertainment Contracts and Negotiations and NCAA Compliance, give students the foundation they need to get the internships they want. In fact, it’s the emphasis placed on securing meaningful internships that’s the cornerstone of the curriculum.
With a direction in place, Hunter interned with the South Carolina Athletic Department, splitting time between Williams-Brice Stadium and Colonial Life Arena. He not only helped to supervise the ticketing staff at Williams-Brice, but also worked with Men’s and Women’s Basketball, musical artists, promoters, donor events, and in an interesting turn of events, was tasked with pushing 2 Chainz around in a wheelchair.
“It has been an amazing experience to see what it takes to get 81,100 people into a stadium on Saturday,” he said. “I’ve gotten to see what sponsorship and in-game activation looks like, managing corporate events, [athlete] recruitment as well as production, things like running the video board, and even managing the towels we pass out. To see both the sport and entertainment side has been extremely valuable. It has been the best of both worlds.”
Over the course of his time at Carolina, Hunter has developed an interest in NCAA athletics, primarily what a pay-for-play model would look like. It’s something he will explore further in his Honors thesis and has him contemplating studying the business-side of the NCAA in law school.
“Until you step on campus, I don’t feel like students get a sense of the connections our faculty have to the industry,” he said. “Not only are these connections important, but they become more valuable as you realize it’s such a small world. I feel that our faculty want us to use these connections because they want you to go out and do meaningful things in the industry.”
I am South Carolina.