Students in MGT 326 participated in experiential learning at a NY Islanders/Montreal Canadiens game. (Photo by Warrick J. Bell)

On a wet and blustery autumn evening in early November, around 20 students waited for a bus at the entrance to the Sports and Recreation Center on the edge of the College of Staten Island campus.  The class was MGT 326 – Sports Management, and the bus was taking them to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to see the New York Islanders play the Montreal Canadiens.

Organized by alumnus Rich Pallarino and MGT 326 instructor David Pizzuto – who is also Associate Athletic Director/Sports Information Director – the trip was not an excuse to get out of class for the night. During the ride to their destination, Professor Pizzuto spoke to the students about aspects of the trip for which he expected them to watch and to consider in the context of material that had been discussed in class over the preceding weeks, particularly relating to facilities management and operations.

As Professor Pizzuto noted, very little of the organization of a sports complex or franchise is related directly to “getting a puck into a net.”  All kinds of auxiliary services surround the ice (or the diamond, the pitch, the court, or the field) and these often have more to do with marketing, sales, finance, security, or any of dozens of other areas of expertise than with any athletic skill. It was these dimensions that the class was there to experience and study.

After arriving at the venue, the students were guided through a maze of back stairwells and corridors to a meeting room where they were greeted by three members of the Barclays and Islanders organizations, including Nicole Medvitz with whom Pallarino had arranged the visit. The hosts spoke about their backgrounds and the different pathways that each had taken through school and internships, and the opportunities that had brought them to their current positions. Genevieve Buccigrossi, a student in the class, said that “it was awesome to see first-hand what we have been learning in class and have informative discussions with employees of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders.”

After a Q&A session, the students were presented with Islanders jerseys before moving to their seats at the start of the second period, with the Islanders leading 3-1.

For many in the group, this was their first time attending a hockey game, or even a professional sporting event of any kind. Certainly, none of them had ever been immersed in such an experiential learning environment specifically as sports management students.  “These are the kinds of opportunities that we want to be able to offer to as many of our students as possible,” said Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business. “This allows them to take their classroom learning into the field and see principles and theories in action.”

In the arena, the action on the ice mounted during the second and third periods, with the Canadiens rallying to tie the score at 3-3 when the full-time buzzer sounded. Sadly, the class had to depart for the return trip to campus before overtime began.

The School of Business is planning to expand its offerings in the area of sports management and sports economics in the coming semesters, and is actively developing a minor in Sports Management.

(Final score for the game: NY Islanders 3, Montreal Canadiens 4.)


Author and Photo Credit:  Warrick J. Bell