For more than a quarter of a century, University of Pennsylvania professor Kenneth Shropshire has taught students at Penn’s Wharton School about the global business of sports. His love of sports and interest in the business side of games goes back even further. An executive in the organizing committee for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Shropshire oversaw projects regarding Philadelphia bids for the Olympics. He also chaired Philadelphia’s stadium site selection committee.
The business professor and attorney will bring these experiences and more into a new online course called “The Global Business of Sports.” The seven-week offering begins Aug. 5 as one of the free courses Penn offers via Coursera. Registration is underway.
“The old story,” Shrophire wrote recently on his blog on The Huffington Post, “is if you are impressed by the amount of money a single ballplayer is making, you should be overwhelmed by the person writing the check. Well, take that logic out further and think of the media and sponsors writing the checks to the sports leagues and team owners.”
He says that player salaries are the “largest figures on the expense side of the sports business ledger” but are small compared to the revenue side of the multi-billion dollar industry of global sports.
His online course is modeled after a sports business management course that he teaches based on a book he co-wrote called The Business of Sports. The work is among his many books on the subject, including In Black and White: Race and Sports in America and The Business of Sports Agents.
“What I’m personally interested in is the role of sports and race, how sport has been used to impact social conditions in the United States and other parts of the world and the impact of and lessons from the Olympics and FIFA World Cup,” he says.
The online course will consist of short, weekly-videotaped lectures in which Shropshire will describe different sports business concepts and illustrate them with real-world case studies. In a few of the segments, he will interview leading sports industry stakeholders. Links to relevant Websites and podcasts will be provided.
The course will cover the structure and economics of sports leagues and teams around the world by looking at U.S. and European league governance, specifically, a case study of the National Football League and Manchester United sponsorships.
It will explore the business side of a range of competitive sports in China, India, South Africa, Brazil, the U.S. and other countries. Major League Baseball, the Premier League, the NFL and other leagues as well as various player unions will be studied. The role of media rights fees will be covered through a close look at the NBC Olympics deal.
A central focus of the course will be how the Olympics and World Cup impact the economies of host countries and the world. He will delve into the history of sports stadiums and arenas and the arguable economic benefits they offer their communities.
“I went to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010,” Shropshire recalls. “It was a great coming together of the people, increased tourism and people had a lovely time. But the sad part of the story is that — and you see this in the Olympics that were in Beijing in 2008 — some of the facilities weren’t ever used again.”
Shropshire joined the Wharton faculty in 1986. He specializes in sports business and law, sports and social impact and negotiations and also serves as special counsel at the global law firm Duane Morris LLP, with a concentration in sports and business law.