ASU sports business graduate winning at the game of life

Grad Matt Joanes gets ready for a career in sports business

Honors student Matthew Joanes is graduating with his bachelor's degree in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business. This fall, he'll begin pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

You could say scoring a Bachelor of Arts in sports business from the W. P. Carey School of Business and Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University has always been one of Matthew Joanes' main goals since he entered the game of life.

"I knew from a very young age that sports were my one true passion," said Joanes, a native of Mesa, Arizona. "I started playing organized sports in fourth grade, but I had been playing touch football on the playground since I was old enough to throw the ball.

"When I was applying to colleges in high school, I didn’t really know how to get to where I wanted to end up. However, I found out that sports business programs were starting to pop up across the country as I looked for degree programs to be admitted to. Once I saw that ASU was offering a sports business degree, I knew I’d found the right place."

Joanes earned the New American University President’s Scholarship, which is offered to outstanding first-year students.

Joanes' journey toward earning a degree at ASU was pretty much etched in stone from birth, since his parents are also Sun Devil alumni.

"I began my Sun Devil journey in the fall of 2011 when I started fourth grade at ASU Preparatory Academy – Polytechnic," Joanes said. "Even at ASU Prep, Gold Fridays were a tradition that everyone took part in. As I grew up and was exposed to more and more of ASU, I fell in love with being a Sun Devil. My parents graduated from Arizona State and got married at the Newman Center on College and University, so attending ASU just felt right."

We caught up with Joanes to learn more about his experience at ASU and how he plans to use his sports business degree to be one of the stars in his career field.

Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

Answer: This is tough because I’ve had some incredible professors in my four years at ASU. Daniel McIntosh, who taught my Intro to Sports Business class, gave me my first taste of being a sports business student. Each week, we’d spend the first 30 minutes of class talking about recent developments in the sports world based on articles from the Sports Business Journal. Professor McIntosh, who went on to become the second reader for my honors thesis, told our class that we should always make sure we know what’s going on in the sports world. Even if you’re not super passionate about a certain area, have enough knowledge about the subject to understand what’s going on if it’s brought up in conversation. That really resonated with me because as I’ve had the chance to talk to more people in the sports industry, I feel much more confident talking to them when I know what I’m talking about. Thank you, Professor!

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give students?

A: Do what you’re passionate about and be authentically you. I started working as an intramural sports official during the fall of my freshman year having never refereed before, but I fell in love with it. Almost four years later, I’ve worked hundreds of games and am the most experienced official in the program, as well as a NIRSA Basketball National Championship official and the 2022-2023 SDFC Basketball Official of the Year. While a lot of my friends don’t understand why I like getting yelled at by players every night, I don’t need them to. I’m doing what I love, and that’s all that matters.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: That’s easy — the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. I’ve worked hundreds of games at the SDFC and played in countless intramural games with my friends. Some of my favorite memories from college were made on the intramural fields and up in the 3-Bay Gym. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if it weren’t for the people I’ve met because of the SDFC.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m very excited to be spending a couple weeks in Omaha, Nebraska, this summer to take in the Men’s College World Series. Starting this fall, I will be pursuing a Master of Sports Law and Business in the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law here at Arizona State University. Some of my friends and mentors, including fellow referees Austin Moore and Evan Singletary, have graduated from the program and welcomed me with open arms to the SLB family. Getting the chance to learn more about the sports industry from professionals in the field was simply too great of an opportunity to pass up. Plus, I really wanted to see Kenny Dillingham’s first season from the student section.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Wow, that’s a lot of money. If I had $40 million, I would try to tackle the issue of youth passion for baseball in the United States. I fell in love with the game of baseball in middle school, so to see such a lack of passion for the game from the young people in the world makes me sad. I’d like to buy tickets for college, minor league and major league games and give them to kids for free so that they can attend games for free. I’d also like to donate a portion of the $40 million to youth baseball programs across the country for new equipment, field maintenance and coaching. Growing the game of baseball must be a goal for the older generations, because without the kids the game is going to start to die off. People who know baseball aren’t better than everyone else, but everyone else would be better if they knew baseball.

Written by from Tremaine Jasper, marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services.

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