By Indiana State University
Feb 26, 2020
There’s no shortage of opportunities for students in Indiana State University’s sport management program.
Matt Blaszka, assistant professor of sport management, is among the program’s faculty who assure that students have a variety of chances to get their hands dirty before graduation day.
“In our sports sales class (RCSM480), students work with the Indiana Pacers on selling group and individual tickets for them. Historically, we’ve had our students go over to Indianapolis for a three-hour seminar to understand the sales process,” he explained. “Then, they come back to campus and do the prospecting and finding leads for selling the tickets throughout the semester, both fall and spring. Whoever raises the most revenue from the class gets an internship interview, or job interview if they’re getting ready to graduate, with the Indiana Pacers. This is our tenth semester doing this with the sales class and we’ve sold over $60,000 in ticket sales, had nine students interview and a couple who have had internships.”
Two years ago, the program started working with the Terre Haute REX to put on theme nights at their games.
“Bruce Rosselli and Jeni Wright with the REX come over to campus to meet with the students about the project and then watch the students present their ideas. Many of the promotional ideas (e.g. Super Heroes Night have been used by the REX. Additionally, we have students intern there in fall, spring and summer,” he said.
State’s Sport Marketing Association case study team has attended the national conference for the last four years. The team has gotten so popular with students that there is now an application process to join the team.
“The first year was in Indianapolis and the students were amazing and got second place, so we decided we need to be doing this regularly. We have taken students to the conference in Boston, Dallas and last year in Chicago, where the students were finalists,” Blaszka said.
In early 2020, nine students attended the Sports Sales Workshop and Job Fair in Cleveland, Ohio, where they attended workshops and every student had multiple interviews that day with teams like the New York Mets and the Colorado Rapids.
In early March, students will also attend the men’s and women’s Big Ten college basketball tournaments, where they’ll take part working with the fan experience zone, guest experience or as court attendants.
“I’ve been here for six years and the experiential learning opportunities for our students just keep building. Since 2015, I’ve been the internship coordinator for our program, and I’ve seen our students go all over – locally here in Terre Haute, to Indy to around the country,” Blaszka said. “I think our emphasis on experiential learning has a lot to do with our students being able to obtain these opportunities and they are really good at promoting our brand. And when our students give their time to these experiences, we as faculty give our time, too.”
Over the last six years, Blaszka and the other faculty here have gone out of their way to create partnerships, starting locally with Indiana State Athletics, the Terre Haute REX and Strive 365, before branching out to other organizations, like Indy 11, Indy Sports Corp and the Indy Fuel hockey team.
“It’s just us going to the organizations and saying, ‘Here’s what Indiana State is and offering reasons to bring our students in. I could not be more proud of our students who continue to work to get better each day,” Blaszka said.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in sport management from York College of Pennsylvania, Blaszka wanted to work in college athletics and decided to do more schooling at Georgia State University in Atlanta. While attending grad school, his advisor, Dr. Beth Cianfrone, suggested that he think about being in academia and working with students.
In 2011, he continued his education at Indiana University for his Ph.D. and took a one-year teaching position after graduation at York College before coming to Indiana State to work with the sport management program’s over 200 undergrads and about 50 graduate students.
In the undergrad program, he teaches sport marketing and sports sales and in the graduate program teaches foundation to sport management, sport marketing, research project and internship as well as serving as graduate program coordinator.
“I love doing this every day. I love what I do working with students, helping them and watching them grow from freshman year to seniors and beyond,” Blaszka said. “The field continues to grow and there are a lot of opportunities, both locally and nationally to get involved. Students often say that their first love is sports and this is a way for them to see the other side, big events and different aspects of the field.”