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England: The Business of International Sports in London

Virtual Program Spring Break 2021

The virtual iteration of England: The Business of International Sports in London brought together 16 DePaul graduate and undergraduate students to meet with leaders and executives from a variety of London-based sports organizations, agencies, and companies. 

Professor Andy Clark, Director of Sports Business Programs in DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business, brought together a wide range of professionals during the weeklong immersion program, giving students opportunities to network with leaders from organizations such as The Premier League, Liverpool FC, Rugby Football Union and NBA Europe. Students got a behind the scenes look of the Surrey Cricket Club and Wimbledon, each led by professionals who offered an insider's view of these iconic venues where they also learned about different careers at these organizations.

The course included a Hackathon workshop with students from Loughborough University, giving students an opportunity to develop their cross-cultural communication skills while working on a real-world community relations challenge with the West Ham Foundation. “This was one of my favorite sessions of the class. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet three great students from London and find common interests and connections between us,” wrote student Meridith Townsend. “This session really strengthens the idea that people, while they may be thousands of miles away and live in a different country, are still people,  and you can find connections with anyone if you try hard enough.” 

Throughout the week, students worked directly with The Premier League to develop ideas to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace within the league's corporate office. This culminated in a business proposal on how the league could improve diversity, equity and inclusion internally among its own staff. For the project, students looked at what other sports and industries were doing and presented their recommendations to The Premier League’s Senior Projects & Culture Manager. These projects were a unique feature of the virtual program. “This first-time virtual study program was a big success from every perspective…great speakers, unique business and cultural experiences and interactive projects,” says Professor Clark. “However what ultimately made this work were the students themselves. They came to each session with energy, a positive attitude and ready to engage and learn.” Many of the students connected with each other and with speakers on LinkedIn, meaningfully expanding their professional networks abroad without leaving their homes. 

Professor Clark rounded out the academic experience with cultural experiences to give students a taste of London. The week started with a viewing party for a West Ham v. Arsenal match where the students wore their personalized Arsenal jerseys. The experience was enhanced with two speakers on hand to help students understand the culture of football in the U.K. throughout the match. Students enjoyed an afternoon tea and a more informal opportunity to connect with professionals with London sports business leaders. During two afternoon sessions, a Blue Badge London tour guide led students on virtual tours of London and Westminster. These cultural experiences helped to connect students with London. “This is the best virtual study abroad course that I attended!” wrote Maya Lomwong. “I enjoyed learning and traveling in London without leaving home.” 

For their final assignment, students submitted journals reflecting on the experience and their takeaways from each session. Annika Britt Pallasch wrote, “This was truly the best experience I could have asked for to fulfill my Experiential Learning credit, especially when I consider the circumstances of the pandemic and my transfer to DePaul a mere year before graduating. I will certainly think back to this week and everything I’ve learned and maybe, someday, even connect some real faces and places with the virtual takeaways and memories from this week in London’s world of sports.”