NFL draft events offer lessons in business of sports

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To Caleb Mezzy, a professor for sports management at Neumann University, next month’s NFL draft offers a rare teaching moment.

Thousands of college athletes will descend on Philadelphia in the hopes of making it onto a professional football team. In order to ensure that the event runs smoothly, the NFL put out a call for volunteers to work the three-day NFL Draft celebration.

Mezzy decided that volunteering to help out would be an experience his students wouldn’t want to miss.

So he helped them become volunteers in order to give them insight intowhat goes on behind the scenes of a major sporting event.

“In my class, we talk a lot about the business behind sports,” he said. “It’s like any other business.”

The upcoming draft, Mezzy said, is exciting for many reasons, not only because the draft is returning to the City of Brotherly Love— the first NFL draft was held here in 1936.

“This is a big deal for Philadelphia,” said Mezzy.

And, he’s right.

According to Kamran Mumtaz, a spokesperson for the NFL, the event will have an $80 million impact on Philly and will support “nearly 26,000 jobs” in the area, including construction, hospitality and transportation jobs.

The response to the call for volunteers was overwhelming. Thousands signed up for such tasks as handing out fan bags, giving directions and manning display booths. So many people responded that there is a waiting list for those still hoping to volunteer.

The lucky thousands who made the cut will get an NFL shirt and jacket.

The event, held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will start on Thursday, April 27 and run through Saturday, April 29.

In details listed on the website for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, the celebration will include “interactive exhibits, immersive games, and virtual reality experiences, free player autograph sessions and more.”

And, the NFL will need volunteers to run everything.

Mezzy said that he believes that by participating as volunteers, his students will learn the behind-the-scenes work that is needed to bring an event of this scale to life.

“It really will show how sports are entertainment, but it’s also a lifestyle,” he said.

For Samantha Butler, 20, a sophomore studying sports management in Mezzy’s class, the experience of working as a volunteer fits nicely into her plans for a sports career.

“My dream career is to work in community relations for an NFL team,” she said. “The Eagles would be the dream, but I’d work wherever.”

Butler served as manager of her high school football team before attending Neumann, which is located about 20 miles from Philadelphia in Aston. Working behind the scenes for sporting events is exactly what she wants to do with her life. And, working at the NFL draft will be another step in that direction, she hopes.

“I love the behind-the-scenes set-up aspect of sports,” she said. “It’s a love that started in high school and I carried it all this way… And, I’m excited to see this all come together.”

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