Specifically for the students, graduates and partners of "Sport Industry Management" program Business School RMA organizes international programs intended for learning the world management experiences of sports organizations and professional clubs. You can read about internships on this page.
Sport business of North America: experience of NHL, NBA, NFL and MLS
This past January marked the conclusion of another internship organized by the RMA business school for the students of «Sport Industry Management» program which took place in the United States of America. Among the participants of this traveling program, the destinations of which have included: stay in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, were the partners of the program: top-managers of the hockey clubs «Atlant» (SubMoscow district), «Dynamo» (Minsk) and «Dynamo» (Riga), representatives of Organizational committee «Sochi 2014» and «Russia 2018» as well as representatives of «Russia 24» TV channel. The main goal of this internship was the research of various aspects of the managerial activity in the sports industry of USA. The program included the visits of it's participants to the following venues and organizations:
Professional Leagues and Associations: NHL (hockey), NBA (basketball), MLS (football), USTA (tennis).
Professional sport clubs: Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils (all-hockey), Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets (basketball), New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union (soccer), New York Mets (baseball) и Washington Redskins (American football).
Arenas: Verizon Сеnter (home arena for Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards), Madison Square Garden (New York Rangers), Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (New York Islanders), Prudential Center (New Jersey Devils и New Jersey Nets), Red Bull Arena (New York Red Bulls), PPL Park(Philadelphia Union), Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies), FedEx Field (Washington Redskins),Сhelsea Piers (multifunctional sports complex in New York).
Seminars and master classes for the participants of the program were conducted by: The president and general manager of New Jersey Devils Lou Lamoriello, senior vice president of NHL Brian Jennings, vice president of NHL Ken Yaffe, senior vice president of NBA International Kim Bohuny, senior vice president of the events and attractions department of the NBA Mark Aronson, general director of UTSA Daniel Zausner, director of marketing for USTA Harlan Stone, president of MLS Don Garber, vice president of marketing for New York Mets David Newman, general director of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Tina Suca and many other top managers of the professional clubs and leagues.
The statement by the head of the "Management in Sports" RMA program, who was among the participants of the internship Igor Kolesov: "If I were to summarize my impressions and lessons learned during this trip in a short way, then I can say that unlike the more familiar European sports industry, the American counterparts exist predominately in accordance with the commercial partnership concept: the leagues here essentially are collaborative enterprises, that vigorously maintain the competitiveness of all of their teams, and divert the necessary resources to the least performing clubs, in some respects at the expense of the better performing ones. Don Garber, the president of MLS, who we had the pleasure of meeting at the New York headquarters, was very forthcoming in describing how this «socialist» system exactly works, having effectively said that currently it does fully justify its existence, and hence will unlikely be revised anytime soon. The system of drafting which allows the outsiders the first access to choosing the most talented young players, ensures the equality of opportunity, which leads to more equitable chances for different clubs to actually winning their North American league contests, despite their persisting differences. This system basically eliminates such category as «permanent champions» altogether.
Of course, this sort of policy is geared first and foremost toward increasing the interest of their fan base, since naturally it is much more interesting and dramatic when the games do not have a predetermined outcome. Conceptually, the fans, being the key source of the revenue, are treated here more importantly than the players themselves. Satisfying their fans needs, and providing them with the utmost comfort is the prime goal here to which everything else is secondary. Therefore, the organizational level of the show naturally becomes the key issue that gets tackled, along with the quality of services offered to them on the arena, such as: food, drinks, sales of insignia at the club stores, parking situation etc. The actual sport results that depend on the teams' actual performance of course does not become unimportant either, but to a degree it is certainly secondary to the overall process: while this may appear somewhat misguided to us, from the perspective of the Americans, and the American sports management, there is actually no harm in doing things that way. Moreover, many of us now actually agree that perhaps that is exactly the right approach in the first place.
We have visited the New York Mets (baseball) club and Washington Redskins (American football) club: in the recent years they have been losing over 70% of the contests they hosted per season, but inspite of that, their arenas continue to be filled up to the brim. Another strong impression was left on us by the words of Christopher Heck, who is the head of the operational business department of the New York soccer club Red Bulls, who said: «Yes, victories do stimulate the team, and we should always be ready to harvest the commercial opportunities stemming from our athletic successes to their maximum potential. But on the other hand, we can't fully control what is happening on the field, and can't guarantee the favorable outcome of the game either, that is why we should strive for the good sales even in case if we don't enjoy any victories at all».
During the course of the trip, the participants have attended the following games of the regular championships of both NHL and NBA: New York Rangers – Philadelphia Flyers (hockey, regular championship NHL, Winter Classic), Boston Bruins – New Jersey Devils (hockey), Florida Panthers – New York Rangers (hockey), Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals (hockey), Miami Heat– New Jersey Nets (basketball, regular NBA championship).
At the conclusion of the internship, back in Moscow a conference was held, titled "Working experience of the leagues and clubs of North America" which gathered over 100 participants, the RMA students, guests as well as management of: the student games, soccer clubs «Spartak» (Moscow), «Shakhtyor» (Donetsk), Continental Hockey League, volleyball clubs "Iskra" and "Zarechie-Odintsovo", companies "Club Attribues" and "Sports Projects", newspaper «Sport-Express», news portal Championat.com and TV channel «Expert-TV».