Sport is pervasive in American society. Millions of Americans avidly participate in recreational sports and athletics, while millions more follow sports as fans and spectators. In fact, the sport industry is big business, generating $250 billion in 2006, making sport the sixth largest industry in the country based on Gross Domestic Product. Unfortunately, as the sport industry has experienced vast and rapid growth, the problems and issues involving sport have multiplied. One particular area in which the sport and athletic industries have suffered major tribulations is in the management of sport.
Many of the current problems associated with the management of sport have resulted from a lack of training and education offered of sport executives. Recently, however, more enlightened thinking suggests that administrators of sport organizations be trained in the management of sport. Fortunately, from an academic perspective, these calls for an increase in the training and education of sport managers have not gone unanswered. In fact, the study of sport management has recently grown to record numbers, as over 200 U.S. universities now offer an undergraduate degree in the management of sport, and over 75 offer a graduate degree in the management of sport.
However, despite the recent growth of sport management as an academic discipline, very little has been done to focus research and educational activities and sport management. Thus, despite the enormous need to produce and disseminate research and appropriate knowledge regarding the management of sport to practitioners and aspiring practitioners throughout the world, few institutions currently sponsor a research and education center focused on the enhancement of sport management.
Texas A&M is in a unique situation of having interdisciplinary faculty and staff expertise in at least seven departments across campus with an interest in sport management. Furthermore, Texas A&M University also has a strong and diverse sport management faculty in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, and the expertise of numerous experienced athletic administrators, coaches, and staffers in the Department of Athletics. The proximity of major professional sport franchises and other major college sport programs also provides the proposed Center with numerous opportunities for collaboration and insight from experienced practitioners away from the Texas A&M University campus.
Sport management has been a focus area within the Department of Health and Kinesiology and an area of faculty strength since 1987. In 2004, a Bachelors of Science degree in Sport Management was added in the department. This new major has boomed since its inception and currently supports over 500 students just at the undergraduate level. The program has also established itself as a national leader in sport management scholarship. A recent benchmark study ranked the Texas A&M sport management faculty as the most productive in the U.S., and the program publishes refereed journal articles at a rate that is appreciably higher than the average at peer institutions.
The Center for Sport Management Research and Education (CSMRE) was approved by the Texas A&M Board of Regent in December of 2006 as a stand alone organization intended to benefit faculty and students studying in this area at Texas A&M and to further develop the program into a national and international leader in Sport Management research and education.
The Center supports sport management lecture series that is given through the sport management seminar courses. This series has and will continue to attract world-renowned scholars and industry leaders to the Texas A&M University campus and provide the university community with pertinent and cutting edge knowledge. The Center will also provide educational outreach to numerous sport stakeholders (e.g., high school athletic programs, collegiate athletic organizations, professional sport franchises) through annual symposiums and conferences pertinent to the development and dissemination of current sport management research and practices.
All publications by Center staff will soon be made available to the public through a Web site, including the ongoing Sport Management Insights interviews and case studies. The Web site will also soon house a thorough and searchable sport management research database that will be available to students and scholars of sport and athletics management for their research endeavors.
The CSMRE will seek to increase the visibility of research pertinent to sport management across the Texas A&M campus, the community, the state of Texas, across the nation, and internationally. The Center thus allows Texas A&M University to become a major player in research agendas related to sport management. These agendas will allow for interdisciplinary collaborations with the ultimate goal of improving the creation and diffusion of knowledge of sport management theory and practice.
As suggested, the CSMRE will play an integral role in the research training and education of a potentially large number of students on the Texas A&M University campus and worldwide. This training will include the use of independent study projects with students from departments with collaborating faculty associated with the Center. Further, as funding becomes available, undergraduate student assistants from departments on campus will be recruited to work in the Center’s laboratories and on Center research projects. One major way in which the Center will accomplish its educational missions is through frequent and personal relationships established with sport industry professionals and organizations throughout the region.
These associations will enable the sport management program to enhance and expand experiential practicum opportunities as well as provide on-site hands on learning activities with various sport organizations. Obviously, students actively involved in research activities will be exposed and allowed to develop collaborations with other students and faculty in other closely related areas across the Texas A&M University campus and with industry. The cumulative work on the Center (e.g., the research database, client contracts and seminars, educational seminars) will provide a rich research environment for all undergraduate and graduate students associated with Center activities.