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Rationale for the new certificate program

The Sport Communication Certificate is designed to respond to both the needs of students and the trends within sport industries. Students from multiple disciplines currently explore sport culture from different perspectives. Communication students produce and deliver sport content via television, radio and social media. Conversely, Sport Management students explore the economic, political, social, and global contexts within which sport culture operates. Acquiring both sets of skills – media production and sport management – within a certificate is intended to enhance students’ current major and promote their marketability in the workplace.

The North American sports market is valued at $73.5 billion in 2019, with sport media the largest and fastest growing segment in revenue generation (PwC, 2019). Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) highlights media rights specifically (i.e., the fees paid to air sporting events on broadcast and cable networks, terrestrial and satellite radio, the internet and mobile devices) as a key element driving industry growth. Media platforms represent an essential tool for content creation, delivery, and promotion of sport culture. PwC also discusses the revenue generated by sponsorships (i.e., fees paid to have brands associated with teams, leagues, or events), yet athletes themselves are becoming brands. This is evident with the new partnership between the sports and entertainment agency Wasserman and advertising agency Giant Spoon. Fischer (2019) describes this business relationship as leveraging the followings of individual athletes for social marketing, which is a “significant step in helping to elevate athletes as individual influencers, apart from their teams.” This suggests that athletes will increasingly reach their fans through the digital marketing space.

The proliferation of the sport-media nexus in contemporary society has clearly created a high demand for professionals who are trained with knowledge in both sport management and the media environment and who are prepared for a wide range of occupations in the sport industry. These positions include journalists, social media strategists, media producers, digital marketing specialists, sport information directors, and media relations managers. Similarly, increasing numbers of students have expressed interests in creating a career path related to sport culture. Sport is meaningful and students value educational programs with purpose. The recent Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey (2019) highlights the importance of a “tight connection between education and career.” Moreover, Strada-Gallup (2019) also reminds us that applied learning increases perceived relevance. The courses and experiences selected for the Sport Communication Certificate provide focused opportunities for developing knowledge and applied skills that are critical to understanding the role of media and strategic communication for the sport industry.

Upon completion of the certificate, students will be able to:

  1. Examine relationships between the public and sport organizations, athletes, and/or leagues.
  2. Produce media content for the sport industry in their chosen medium.
  3. Develop and analyze communication strategies and tactics for digital and online spaces.
  4. Explore traditional media (e.g. television, newspaper and radio) and new media (e.g. social media, blogs, and eSports) in different aspects of global sport industry.
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking skills in contesting the hegemonic representation of social values and cultural representations in sport media related to politics, gender, race, etc.

The certificate will benefit students from multiple disciplines, including majors in the Department of Communication, Department of Health and Sport Science, and the School of Business Administration. The interdisciplinary nature of selected courses may also be of interest to students in the Department of Psychology, particularly those interested in pursuing careers in Sport Psychology.