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Experiencing the 2024 National Sports Forum

March 18, 2024

By: Jacob Buttar '24

As a sport business student here at the University of Mount Union, when the end of February comes around that can only mean one thing: the National Sports Forum (NSF) has arrived. Recently, I and seven other Mount Union students interned at the NSF in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest gatherings of sport business professionals from across many different leagues, agencies, colleges, and corporate partners worldwide. The Mount Union sport business program provides the NSF interns each year as part of an annual partnership established by Dr. Jim Kadlecek.

I returned to the Forum for a third time while fellow seniors Gillian Maffit, Sammy Kaminsky, and Tessa Galletta returned for a second time. Juniors Gabby Smith, Jason Csank, and Blayne Reith and sophomore Bill Hreha interned at the Forum for the first time. As on-site interns, our main roles and responsibilities include running the registration table, helping set up and tear down rooms for breakout sessions, assisting with transportation to and from events, and helping assist with other events such as the annual Trade Show and Case Cup competition.

mount union students at national sports forum

This year, my main tasks included posting the correct signage around the conference, making sure all breakout rooms were clean and set up properly, and working closely with the bus system for transportation to and from our off-site events. As interns, we also participate in many networking events throughout the conference allowing them to meet many industry professionals from across the industry. This is always a great opportunity to meet individuals from across the country (and in some cases the world) who provide great insight into getting started in the sports world. Though the days start early in the morning and end late at night, the practical work experience and opportunities to network with industry professionals are great opportunities for interns to start their professional careers in the near future.

As interns, we also travel to multiple off-site locations throughout the conference. This year, we visited PNC Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Acrisure Stadium, home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers. We received behind-the-scenes tours of both stadiums, which included a clubhouse visit at PNC Park and a tour of the locker rooms for the Steelers and Panthers. At PNC Park, we were treated to a drone show across the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline. This was one of the highlights of the conference for me personally, as I had never experienced anything like it!

mount union students at steelers wall of honor

At Acrisure Stadium, we also visited the new Steelers Museum inside the stadium which included artifacts from the team’s storied history as well as a chance to call a famous play in Steelers history. As a sports broadcaster here at Mount Union, I loved being able to call James Harrison’s pick-six from the Steelers Super Bowl win over the Cardinals! Both off-site events provided great opportunities to network and create memorable experiences for us interns.

I always enjoy being able to attend the NSF due to being able to make new connections and reconnect with past attendees. I also love having the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country to participate in the event. Since becoming an intern in my sophomore year, I have also had the opportunity to intern in Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California. Next year, the Forum will take place in Boston, Massachusetts.

three mount union students standing on nfl field

Each year, I enjoy getting closer with not just attendees, but my fellow interns and professors as well. Over the past two years, I have also enjoyed serving as a mentor to my fellow Mount Union interns and watching them work hard throughout the week. Gabby noted that she “loved making new connections with the attendees because everyone was so experienced and I could learn a lot from them. They are the ones doing the behind-the-scenes work for the sports we love.”

Though my time with the NSF has ended, I am excited to see interns such as Gabby, Blayne, Jason, and Bill carry on the tradition for years to come! The National Sports Forum is one of the many great work opportunities I have had through the University of Mount Union and I am forever grateful to have had the chance to intern with the conference!