Going Beyond the Classroom

By Emily Hung ’23, February 24, 2022
Sport Management students on the field at Super Bowl LVI.

Putting on an event as massive as the Super Bowl isn’t just about making sure that everything goes well from kickoff to the final whistle. It’s an entire week of festivities that require significant support, and at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, a dozen Ithaca College students were there, helping to ensure everything ran smoothly.

The students, led by associate professors of sport management Annemarie Farrell and Rachel Madsen, embarked on a seven-day trip to the West Coast to assist in hospitality and event management operations for On Location, a third-party contractor for the NFL. The students turned SoFi Stadium and the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) into their laboratory for a week of fieldwork experience.

“In our program, we’re committed to giving students a foundation in the classroom, but they got to go do it,” Farrell said. “Our students want to get their feet wet. They want to start their career right now in the sport industry.”

“The sport management department has ingrained in us grit and hard work and customer service experience all from day one. It really goes beyond the classroom.”

Shane Curry ’23

In the week leading up to the big game, they provided customer service and assisted fans with downloading the NFL OnePass app at the Super Bowl Experience at LACC. The students also drove around executives from the International Olympic Committee, NCAA, and WWE in golf carts the day before the game.

“We had to overcome a lot of obstacles and challenges,” said Keegan Santasiere ’23. “We had to be very proactive, and problem solve because we’re responsible for these really important people, and we want to represent On Location well.”

Santasiere also escorted comedian Chris Rock to the On the 50 party, stepping into a security role for a few minutes as fans swarmed them. On Sunday, students provided game-day support for VIP guests and halftime show talent, and worked at the after-party at YouTube Theater, lining the VIP entrances and directing individuals with credentials.

“We greeted VIP guests, including performers, and showed them to the party they were invited to,” Jacqueline Leone ’23 said.

The students resolved challenges that arose during the day and facilitated guest wayfinding services.

“I learned how important it is to work as a team to get the job done,” Ian Citrin ‘22 said. “For example, we worked together to help further facilitate pre-event setup.”

Because they were able to observe the game at times on Sunday, they were also able to fully understand the scope of an event as massive as a Super Bowl halftime show.

“You get a good appreciation for how many people it takes to set up the halftime show because it’s like an ant colony coming out of the corner when they’re dragging all the stage pieces across the field,” Shane Curry ’23 said. “From an event operations perspective, it’s really cool to see how much coordination has to go into it.”

Curry says coursework from his sport management classes complemented his experience in the field.

“In sport law, you learn that you need to make sure everything is safe and acceptable from a safety perspective,” he said. “In sport event facility management, the main focus is making guests’ experiences better, so it all ties into one from all of my classes. The sport management department has ingrained in us grit and hard work and customer service experience all from day one. It really goes beyond the classroom.”