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Third Forum To Delve Into Minds Of Regional Sport Executives

Nov. 13, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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The sport industry is the fourth largest industry in the nation, accounting for an estimated $750 billion annually.

Those at the helm of each sport team deal with a variety of issues to ensure the success of that organization.

“That type of success doesn’t come without high expectations,” said Brent Estes, associate professor in the Sam Houston State University health and kinesiology department’s sport management program.

“The ability to make and implement good decisions, sometimes with limited resources, is what largely determines the success of today’s sports executives,” he said. “As the expectations increase, the margin for error diminishes.”

headshot Marcel Braithwaite
headshot Callye Dannheim
headshot Penny King
headshot Reid Ryan
(From top) Marcel Braithwaite, Callye Dannheim, Penny King and Reid Ryan.

SHSU’s program will bring to campus four regional executives who will share with sport fans the wide variety of experience in their job as part of the third annual “Mind of a Sport Executive” forum on Thursday (Nov. 21).

Moderated by David Brady, the vice president for marketing at the Houston Zoo and the in-stadium voice of the Houston Texans, the forum will feature panelists from the Houston Astros, Texas A&M University, and Lone Star Sports and Entertainment.

Those panelists will include Marcel Braithwaite, vice president and general manager of building operations for the Houston Astros; Callye Dannheim, LSSE director; Penny King, senior associate athletics director and senior women’s administrator at Texas A&M; and Reid Ryan, president for business operations for the Houston Astros.

The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater and will give sport fans a broad perspective of the industry and the people who help those fans to have a great game day experience, according to Ryan Zapalac, assistant chair and associate professor in the health and kinesiology department.

Each speaker has a wide range of experiences and will draw those out in the discussion, addressing things such as the changing landscape of the sport industry and their perspectives on these changes, issues they have come across over their careers, and recommendations they would have for people looking for a career in the sport industry.

“We are very excited about this year’s panel because we feel as though people will be able to get a very ‘top-down’ perspective of how things work in the industry,” Zapalac said. “Reid Ryan is one of the younger team presidents in Major League Baseball and has worked his way up to the position he is in. He will be able to speak about that process and how he was able to learn a great deal in the minor league system, which ultimately helped him become a president of business operations at the major league level.

“Marcel Braithwaite and Callye Dannheim will be able to focus more on the physical space that people occupy during events and the planning process that goes into making these events a great experience for the customer. Additionally, Callye has been instrumental in planning and executing the Battle of the Piney Woods,” he said. “Finally, Penny King will be able to take us to the world of a major collegiate athletic program and will speak to the changes she has seen in college athletics over the years.”

With two female panelists, the panelists themselves also highlight the “changing landscape of the industry,” representing a paradigm that is shifting away from the “good old boy” network associated with sports to one that is more inclusive of women and minorities, as well as those who might not have a “sport pedigree.”

“Women and minorities have more career opportunities in the sport industry than ever before,” Estes said. “The success of female and minority sport executives continues to challenge conventional stereotypes, allowing for barriers to be broken down and trails to be blazed.

“In addition, the notion that most front office executives in professional sports and intercollegiate athletics have worked their way up through the ranks as a player and/or coach is antiquated and inaccurate; there are many examples throughout the industry of successful executives who never played or coached at the collegiate and/or professional levels,” he said. “Today’s criteria for being a successful executive in the sport industry is less about playing/coaching experience and more about business acumen.”

In its third year, the “Mind of…” series was designed to increase awareness of SHSU’s sport management program and to help sport fans understand all that goes into sporting events and productions.

The first year’s forum examined sport fans’ behaviors and issues, while the second year provided a behind-the-scenes look at the industry and how sports leagues, teams, and events are able to execute their initiatives.

“So many times, people come to a game and don’t consider everything that goes into executing one single event. We hope that the forum will help inform people about the business side of sports but then also educate them about career opportunities in the industry,” Zapalac said. “Sport is such an important phenomenon in people’s daily lives that we feel that they would want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making it happen.

“While the event does provide very valuable information for our students, we definitely feel that a wide range of people would benefit from the event. Business majors and communications majors may want to come hear the perspectives of these individuals as the sport industry also represents a great career path for them. Additionally, anyone from the community or other schools who is interested in learning more about how the industry works would have a great time at the event.”

The “Mind of a Sport Executive” forum is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served before the panel discussion.

For more information, contact Estes at bce001@shsu.edu or 936.294.1159 or visit the sport management program website at sportmanagement.shsu.edu.



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