A conversation in Singapore; a sports law journal based in London, England; and an article about a World Cup controversy in Canada—these are among the far-flung elements that came together for an extraordinary—and undeniably global—opportunity for five Oregon MBA students in the sports business track.
It all started last summer when students from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center headed to Singapore for the group’s final leg of the MBA program's annual Engaging Asia study tour. Thanks to the center’s close ties with Sport Singapore—the nation’s council for sports—students were invited to attend the organization’s Sports Matters conference.
A presentation by Darren Bailey, director of football governance and regulation for England’s Football Association (FA), was a conference highlight for Jeff Lauer, MBA '15 (above, center). A passionate fan and former varsity soccer player, Lauer left an assistant coaching position at Willamette University to attend the Oregon MBA.
After Bailey's talk at the conference, Lauer approached him with a question about the evolving role of technology in the game. Lauer's single question led to a lively—and lengthy—discussion.
“We probably spent 20 minutes talking about whether it makes sense to have offline cameras be reviewable like the NFL does with the challenge flag and whether you can have cameras in goal posts that you can see on a second screen or on your cell phone while you’re in the stadium," said Lauer.
Back in Eugene after the study tour, Lauer emailed Bailey to thank him for the conversation. Bailey responded in kind and posed a question. Would Lauer be interested in contributing an article to the sports law journal Bailey edits?
The opportunity was irresistible—and the timing couldn’t have been better. Lauer had a topic in mind—the lawsuit involving the playing surface for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Vancouver that more than 60 women soccer players brought against the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA—and he was already enrolled in the sports law course taught by Mark Phelps, so he knew he’d have plenty of expertise on his side.
Lauer recruited four other MBAs from the Warsaw Center—Lena Macomson, MBA ’15; Char Zoller, MBA ’15; Kate Kostal, MBA ’15; and Gary Cooper, MBA ’15—and the team got to work examining the issues behind the case.
The students' article appeared in Sports Law Administration and Practice in December 2014, and they were able to use their work as the basis for their final project in the sports law course as well.
For Lauer, who doesn't see himself as a naturally outgoing person, the experience serves as proof that networking is a skill that can be learned. He credits his experience at the Oregon MBA—particularly the networking workshops led by Sally Bell—with giving him the confidence to reach out and connect with Bailey and others.
“I’m an introvert that has learned extroversion,” said Lauer. “The Oregon MBA has been wonderful for me to learn how to navigate networking events and make the most of each one. I still can’t believe I have a contact in the FA that I can send an email to.”