There is an inside joke among professional football players that NFL stands for “not for long” in career endurance. It’s why athletes and NFL franchise teams are putting in some off-season overtime, pivoting toward education and player development through the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University.
Tackling career transitions before the clock runs out on their playing careers, 38 members of the Miami Dolphins recently participated in the fourth annual Dolphins Business Combine (DBC) in Miami. Created by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to provide unique opportunities for his players’ development off the field, this year’s event was led by NFL alumni and ASU professors.
“It’s not always easy transitioning to a career outside of sports when you are a professional athlete,” said Ken Shropshire, professor and CEO of the Global Sport Institute at ASU. “Our athlete education initiatives aim to guide players at all stages of their career and help them identify and build on the interests they already know they have.”
Seminars were facilitated by Shropshire, who led a session on the art of negotiation, and an interdisciplinary group of ASU staff and faculty — including Brent Sebold, executive director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Training and Development Network at ASU, and Jeffrey Kunowski, associate director of innovation programs for the Global Sport Institute and Entrepreneurship and Innovation — combined to share some thoughts on the entrepreneurial mindset. Nicole Garcia, client relations director in the Thunderbird School of Global Management, also attended.
In four days of seminars held Feb. 23–27 in Miami, attendees took part in programs and workshops focused on real estate, entrepreneurship, business leadership, business operations, corporate finance, marketing and project management. Each player also received a DBC program certificate in partnership with ASU’s Global Sport Institute.
The Global Sport Institute collaborated with DBC to develop the curriculum that was based on a survey that the team conducted about player interests. The program combined classroom sessions with real-world company visits to simulate practice. A final business competition, co-hosted by the ASU team, had players pitching in front of a panel of judges and an audience to help players connect with the material and implement what they learned in a real-world setting.
“Any organization works best when the people know that the head of the organization cares about their development,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a press release. “I thought it was incumbent on me to show them the opportunities they can have when they finish their careers while still playing. I’m proud of the work that we have accomplished together over the past four years and excited that so many players were involved in this year’s event.”
The partnership with the Miami Dolphins marked the Global Sport Institute’s first such collaboration with an NFL team, although the institute has teamed up with the NFL in previous years to stage finance boot camps to enhance financial literacy among athletes. The next boot camp will be held March 22–26 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Top photo courtesy: Miami Dolphins
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