Sport Management students reap rewards with Super Bowl internship experiences

Roger Coda
group of students arriving for Super Bowl

The SUNY Fredonia group of 17 sport management students arrives in Los Angeles for Super Bowl LVI, including (back row, from left): Antonio Reid, Josh Santacroce, Cody Starks, Zoe Blasak, Jimmy Doran, Jared Gleason, Alex Brizendine (in front of Gleason), Nate Wirth, Billy Major (in the teal hat), Shelby Himes, Camryn Wilson and Kyle Mack; and (front row, from left): Jonah Rosas, A.J. Kinney (sitting down), Nate Sage, Thomas Starks and Brian Goldstein.

“Mesmerizing” ... “Unmatchable” ... “So cool”

It’s hard to top the superlatives used by SUNY Fredonia Sport Management students to describe their Super Bowl internship experiences.

While crowds packed SoFi Stadium, a $5 billion sports and entertainment complex, to ultimately see the Los Angeles Rams edge the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, with more than 110 million watching on television, 17 students who have majors or minors in Sport Management were chalking up valuable sport industry experience through Super Bowl internships.

“The internship experience at the Super Bowl puts you right in the action of the largest sporting event in the country,” said student Antonio Reid. “The organization that is necessary for the Super Bowl to go on without a hitch is mesmerizing. There are so many moving parts and so many jobs that are needed to create the great experience we see on television. Being able to assist in the event is truly an experience that can't be derived anywhere else.”

“The organization that is necessary for the Super Bowl to go on without a hitch is mesmerizing. There are so many moving parts and so many jobs that are needed to create the great experience we see on television.” Antonio Reid, ‘22

There’s so much for students to learn and experience through a Super Bowl internship, echoed Sport Management Assistant Professor Kerry Fischer. “They got to see how a sporting event happens, got a lot of behind-the-scenes experience, especially on Game Day. They got to see how the Super Bowl halftime show comes together – there are so many moving parts.”

The Fredonia contingent – a mixture of seniors, juniors, sophomores and one first-year student – worked Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Super Bowl Experience, the vaunted fan-centered attraction staged in the massive Los Angeles Convention Center. Running games that fans played, helping with crowd control, giving directions, checking vaccination status of fans and handing out home COVID-19 tests were among their duties.

“Our job was to enhance the fan experience,” explained Dr. Fischer, one of two Sport Management faculty members who accompanied the students. That was the chief mission the NFL assigned to the student interns.

On Game Day, students shifted to SoFi Stadium’s service level, where the tunnels leading out to the field are located. “They got to see the behind-the-scenes magic and get a better understanding of exactly what goes on at an event that sports fans don’t think about,” Fischer said. “There was never a down moment; always something happening.”

Groups of student interns were assigned to slightly different tasks, reported Shelby Himes, a ’21 graduate from Frewsburg. Some performed sentry duty outside of team locker rooms, making sure only authorized personnel could enter, while others helped to supervise logistics for elements that would be featured in the halftime show.

“My duties were to make sure that all the dancers, speakers, and some lights for the halftime show made it on the field at the right time. And when it was time for them to come off, that they went in the right direction and in the spot where they belonged,” Ms. Himes said.

“These were amazing things that we don't see as a normal fan. It was so cool to see what goes on behind the scenes and what it takes to be able to pull off such a big event. It really gave me a better understanding of how important time management is when things are on such a timed schedule.” Himes added.

“That (Super Bowl Experience) was a different experience than the game itself, but I think a lot of them gained a better appreciation for exactly how events are run,” Fischer explained.

A major takeaway from the internship for Mr. Reid, a senior from Brooklyn, was an appreciation for how much preparation and time are needed to ensure that everyone is safe, and that fans have a truly great experience. It’s a must-have internship for students wanting to work in the sport industry because they’ll have a chance to shadow some of the most influential people in the sports world, Reid remarked.

“I believe that this internship has given me an unmatchable experience,” Reid explained. “I also think that this internship is something that attracts the eye on resumes and could be a great talking point in interviews. This opportunity has helped me confirm internally that working in sports is definitely the way I want to go with my career.”

Reid, who’s also majoring in Psychology, would like to become a licensed sports psychologist who assists athletes at the collegiate or professional level with the daily pressures of being a top athlete in their sport, while having a balanced lifestyle. “I want to motivate athletes to maximize their own potential and block out all the unnecessary obstacles that come with the job.”

The internship helped Himes to conclude that she wants to work in event planning or social media within the sport industry, ideally with the National Football League, Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League.

“It also allowed me to make connections to multiple people on LinkedIn that work all different parts of the sport industry. They were also able to give me advice and talk to me about how I should go about applying for jobs in the sport industry,” Himes said.

“Most of the people that I met and connected with were women, so it gave me hope that I will make it one day,” she added.

While SUNY Fredonia students enjoyed interacting with fans and fellow student volunteers, they also made potential industry connections, Fischer said, which is a central objective of Super Bowl internships. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of them.”

It is the eighth time SUNY Fredonia has organized a Super Bowl internship experience, and Los Angeles represents the greatest distance a Sport Management contingent has traveled, Fischer said. “I wasn’t expecting so many students to be going because it was so far away.”

It also marked the first time that student interns were paid by the Super Bowl host committee. Students also received assorted Super Bowl swag that included black uniforms and black caps worn on Game Day, red shirts for the Super Bowl Experience, black long-sleeve jackets and backpacks – all sporting the Super Bowl logo.

Fischer is looking forward to SUNY Fredonia students interning at the 2023 Super Bowl.

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