Third annual Ted Rogers Sports Conference at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on March 24. PHOTO: BLAIR TATE

The business of sports

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By Billy Diep

Students and professionals with a passion for sports and business gathered at the Mattamy Athletic Centre for the third annual Ted Rogers Sports Conference on March 24.

Throughout the day, there were a series of panels discussing various topics, including the need to market to female fans and new immigrants as well as how teams can use social media to better interact with fans.

Masai Ujiri, president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors, was the keynote speaker at the event. He spoke about his life and the experiences that got him to where he is now. Originally from Nigeria, he moved to the United States to play college basketball and then played professionally in Europe for six years. After professional game experience, Ujiri started to look for any opportunity to get into a position of management. He took on an unpaid internship as a talent scout with the Orlando Magic and worked his way up to his current position with the Toronto Raptors.

The Ryerson Sports and Business Association organized the conference. Monique Phillips, vice president of marketing for the association, said Ujiri was the perfect person to be the keynote speaker because of his passion to get to where he is today.

The panelists also spoke about engaging with fans through social media. However, not all fans were able to engage with them at the conference. Students were told that this would be a chance to network with professionals, but some students did not get that opportunity.

“I networked with other business students but panelists just showed up for their panel, and then stayed for a few minutes after and left,” said Carolyn Tso, a second-year business management student.

For people in the industry who want to leave a mark in their fields, Ujiri has some advice for you.

“Stay humble, but also passionate and fierce. Differentiate yourself — find the time and how to do it or we’ll all be ordinary and the same. If you’re trying to elevate yourself, you have to make a difference.”

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