"Soccer is the fastest growing sports market in the US."
That statement, as well as many others on the state of soccer domestically and abroad, featured prominently on Monday evening at the Undergrate Sports Business Club's "Inside the Industry: Soccer" Panel. The event, which USBC hosted in conjunction with the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, gave students an inside look into one of the biggest international sports.
In front of a packed room filled with students, athletes and coaches, a panel of seven Penn graduates employed in a wide array of jobs relating to the soccer world. From a recent graduate of the FIFA Masters Program to the Head of Business Operations at FOX Sports to an analyst Skyping in from London, the panelists answered questions from moderator Jonathan Tannenwald (C '06) and students.
The event was the brainchild of Tannenwald, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and former Daily Pennsylvanian reporter, who sat on the panel and worked with USBC to organize the event.
"Initially, towards the end of last semester, Tannenwald reached out to me and said he spoke to the women's soccer coaches with this idea of something he wanted to put together," USBC president Jared Faust said. "And when I started to run the club this semester, he reached out to me, gave me a list of people who would potentially be interested, and just our luck, we found one night that they were all able to come, which was pretty awesome."
The topics ranged from relegation and promotion in the MLS, to the influence of Hispanic soccer in the US, to the different career paths people can take in soccer, but a lot of the night focused on the growth and popularity of soccer in the U.S. In particular, the panelists talked about how they believed success from both the men's and women's national teams can influence the growth of the MLS and club soccer, as they painted a hopeful vision for the future of U.S. soccer.
The questions were often tailored to the roles that each panelist currently has in relation to the realm of soccer. For example, Rick Resnick (C '87 and W '87), who works as the Vice President of Sports Marketing at Univision, talked at length about how important the market for Mexican soccer is to the rising interest in soccer in the U.S. The wide assortment of jobs that the panelists had was a point of emphasis for USBC coming into the event.
"I think it was really important not only to hear all of this from alumni, but from people across a wide variety of fields," Faust said. "We have people who are in brand marketing, people who are on the TV side, Professor Scott Rosner [who teaches sports business at the University] here, and the career advice was obviously extremely helpful there."
At the end of the day, the purpose of the event was to give students exposure to the industry and show them what kind of positions are available to them in the field, and it did just that.