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UT Martin Professor Has Students Working Events at Super Bowl

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Six students from the University of Tennessee at Martin's sports business program are working hospitality events with their sports management professor at both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona this weekend. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte speaks with Dr. Dexter Davis about how he works with the NFL to arrange for the students to help and explains what the students experience while they're there. 

While working at Alfred State college SUNY and Niagara University, Dr. Davis wanted a way to differentiate from other sports management programs and initially sought to take students to help during Spring Training for a week. So he contacted every Major League Baseball team and ended up in Jupiter, Florida on the training grounds of the Cardinals and Marlins. While there, he made contact with a person affiliated with the Miami Dolphins who was seeking volunteers for the Super Bowl in Miami. He took some students down and they did a great job working 18 hour days with whatever was needed. NFL On Location liked the professionalism of his students. This group contacts local organizing groups during the Super Bowl and other events and pairs them with volunteer groups like Dr. Davis' class.

He says they've been in Phoenix since last Friday, initially helping with the Pro Bowl, which isn't quite as exotic or extravagant as the Super Bowl, but their primary job was acting as way-finders for people looking for hospitality events. Last Monday, NFL On Location said they were short people at the NFL Experience in the fan zone, where people go to check out sponsor booths and members of the media set up. Dr. Davis says as an educational experience, he wants his students to learn that there is a whole year or more of preparation that goes into events like this and that these things don't just come together instantly. That the business side of an industry like the NFL Super Bowl is a major production, likening it to a Broadway show with rehearsals and practice.

The students also got to be tourists, too. On one of the days off, they toured the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies spring training facility along with some other sight-seeing. -- He says they'll spend another day working the NFL experience before managing the Super Bowl. They'll help manage player appearances, escorting them through security into the stadium while they interact with fans, before escorting them away. He says each student had to go through an FBI clearance to enter and exit the stadium. Once the hospitality events are over, the students get to hang out in the stadium during the Super Bowl and after the game, they'll help fans into the field for the post game experience and help them to their hospitality venues.

Dr. Dexter Davis, assistant professor sport management at UTM, has worked hospitality for NFL on location at the Super Bowl for a decade. This is the second year he's also brought students to work with him. Six UTM students are with Davis in Glendale, Arizona working both the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl to learn about the hospitality business that goes with professional sports events.

More about this experience on UTM's website

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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