This past Monday, the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation hosted Sean Foley, co-founder of Austin Sports & Entertainment, for a conversation with the fellowship program. The McCombs grad and three-time NCAA champion in swimming took the evening to speak with CSLi’s fellows about his background as an athlete and give an insider perspective on global sports media and dole out advice for young professionals just getting into the industry.
Below are some highlights from the meeting:
Q: What seems to be your main focus moving forward, working the media side or client representation?
A: My agent days are behind me. It was a great experience. Moving forward, we’re thinking by the year 2021 there will be a state-of-the-art stadium in East Austin. It’s a big project I’m currently working on. We’re planning on building a 40,000-seat stadium for large-scale sporting events, plus another 15,000-seat arena for Austin Rodeo. This area is relatively underutilized, and we’re really looking forward to how it is all going to come together.
Q: What were some of the cultural differences you saw when you were in Europe?
A: Here, sports is about entertainment. Over there, it’s a religion. Don’t get me wrong, we have some die-hard fans here, but your eyes aren’t popping out of your sockets and your hair isn’t falling out every time your team loses. They have a very tribal mentality, and to them it’s your tribe versus my tribe.
Q: All of these fellows want to work in the sports industry so what skills can they work on right now to help them down the road?
A: I think for those of you who want to work at the intersection of technology and sports is a good thing because they are always looking for entrepreneurs in the field. But I encourage you to think about the tech side first. You must believe that technology has applications outside of just sports.
For the journalists, we need you now more than ever. I haven’t given up on the idea that we all want to sit down and read a good story on something we care about. As long as sports media companies are around, there will always be opportunities to do a great story.