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It takes a small army of people and a lot of business savvy to put together the game-day experience at a hockey game, and Mooseheart students were able to see what goes into that production at a Dec.15 seminar hosted by the Chicago Wolves hockey team.
Mooseheart sent nine of its Business Vocation students to the seminar, which was given by Wolves President of Business Operations Mike Gordon. While Gordon’s interactive discussion with the students from many Chicago area high schools focused on hockey and sports, the links to other businesses were easy to spot.
“We have students at this seminar who have never been here before,” Mooseheart Business Education teacher Corinthian Stewart said. “I think it’s important for them to see how business is involved in many industries, including sports. For the students to bridge the outside world to the academic work we do in the classroom makes it relevant to them.”
The focus of Gordon’s seminar was about the passions fans experience at a game, and also how there is a whole business and marketing effort that underpins the on-field success seen by any team.
“Most of our kids can relate to sports and the sports part is what draws them,” Stewart said. “It does give them an opportunity to see sports, something they love, in a different light. What (Gordon’s) talking about, many of the basic concepts, are transferrable from industry to industry.”
One of Mooseheart’s students who attended the seminar was senior Greg Hernandez, who has an interest in business and enjoyed the seminar.
“It’s interesting hearing how, if they want to have more money to sign more players, they have to make more money as a business,” Hernandez said. “They’re trying to get here to spend money, which shows you how much of a business it is.”
Gordon discussed how increased attendance becomes increased revenue, which allows the team to acquire players, which can be beneficial in making the playoffs or winning championships. The Wolves have been very successful since their 1994 founding. They have only had one losing season and have won four league titles.
“It’s all based on business,” Gordon said. “You have to be successful in the way you run your franchise so your franchise can be successful. The more you’re successful on the business front, the more you can invest in your infrastructure like training facilities and on your players. It is all based on how much revenue you can produce.”
Hearing from Gordon helped Hernandez move business and marketing concepts out of books and into the real world.
“You’re hearing from someone who really does this,” Hernandez said. “Now we can go back and watch sports and remember all that work that goes on to make it happen while they’re making people happy watching the game.”
Stewart said the things Hernandez took from Gordon’s seminar were exactly the things she was hoping all her students would learn.
“(Hernandez) is a senior who would like to be an actuary or an accountant and who has a definite interest in the business world,” Stewart said. “He is curious and open and this should give him insight as he moves forward. I want him to more that there is more out there that he has not seen in the business world.”
Gordon said if the topic of his seminar had not been about hockey, many of the same principles would have been involved, though the examples would have been different.
“If I owned a bakery, the goal would be to sell more cookies or cakes,” Gordon said. “I would determine who I was targeting. If I was selling wedding cakes, I would want to be serving ads to people who clicked on wedding Internet sites. It’s just easier to understand it when we’re talking about sports.”
Gordon said one of the Wolves’ goals is to move that marketing and business into the background so fans can enjoy a hockey game. All the students who attended the seminar were able to attend an 11 a.m. Chicago Wolves vs. Grand Rapids Griffins contest.
“We want it to always be about fans feeling like fans when they’re at live sporting events and maybe seeing some miraculous feat so they can have a story to tell for the rest of their lives. Our goal is to keep the business side away so it doesn’t become overt,” Gordon said.