Technology’s role in sports is creating an array of career opportunities, and Clemson University’s College of Business and Department of Athletics are tapping that phenomenon as a teaching moment for students across all educational disciplines.

John Hannon and Graham Neff are teaming up to teach a class on sports technology.

John Hannon and Graham Neff are teaming up to teach a class on sports technology.
Image Credit: Patrick Wright

Technology Entrepreneurship in Sports is a new class being offered to all majors this semester through the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The course is bringing to bear expertise from Clemson’s athletic department, business school and the marketplace to create awareness of career opportunities spawned by the growth of sports technology start-ups.

“The idea of having a curriculum focused on support elements to the sports industry aligns with identifying future opportunities for our students,” said Graham Neff, deputy director of athletics and co-instructor for the class. “And, it’s a door for students and student-athletes to understand the broader industry careers that exist in sports beyond the playing field.”

The curriculum studies novel, high-growth sports startups that utilize technology in areas of ticketing, crowd control, team communications and security, to name a few.

“The course examines not only early-stage sports technology start-ups, but also established companies like Under Armour and GoPro,” said John Hannon, co-instructor and Spiro Institute assistant director. “With the huge appetite Clemson has for sports and the lucrative career opportunities that exist in this business sector, it makes sense to marry entrepreneurship and sports on our campus.”

Hannon said he and Neff will employ a number of resources in teaching the class, including prominent guest speakers, lectures on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, and student case studies on emerging companies in the sports technology industry.

“Innovation in the sports and entertainment businesses has been on an upward trajectory worldwide,” Hannon said. “There have been technological advancements in apparel, equipment, virtual reality, training devices, nutrition, health, safety, and many other areas of the industry.”

Neff and Hannon are tapping some of the athletic department’s business partners to bring the business world into the classroom. One such company is Teamworks, a Durham, N.C.,-based company that provides communications solutions to Clemson and other athletic programs. Founded in 2004, Teamworks’ communications platform helps the Tigers’ teams communicate activities such as meals, practices and travel itineraries through emails, texts and voice messaging.

“Clemson athletics has many industry contacts in its day-to-day work. Those are real-world resources we can bring into the classroom,” Neff said. “We are regularly pursued by these entrepreneurial companies to create efficiencies in our operations. Being able to tap their knowledge base will be invaluable to our students.”

The College of Business, through the Spiro Institute, has placed interns with some of the athletic department’s vendors. The experience has given students a taste of the business -world in this rapidly developing sector.

Macey Carr is a marketing research intern with Atlanta-based Aspire Group, a global sport and entertainment marketing firm that caters primarily to the outsourced ticket marketing sales and service niche. The Aspire Group experience has opened Macey’s eyes to the career opportunities that exist in the business end of sports.

“Teaching students about the opportunities that exist in sports technology makes so much sense. Many students aren’t familiar with careers in this rapidly expanding business area,” the marketing major said. “My experience with The Aspire Group has made me aware of a business career I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. By being exposed to it, I’m seriously considering it as a career path.”

“Technology, Entrepreneurship and Sports is another puzzle piece in the suite of entrepreneurial classes Clemson offers as we build toward becoming the national destination for entrepreneurial teaching and research,” Hannon added. “We’re excited about enlightening the innovative minds of our students to the many careers available to them.”

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