2001: Ed.D. Sports Management
For the sixth consecutive year at the Super Bowl, United States Sports Academy alumnus Dr. Dexter Davis volunteered to help run the NFL Experience, a fan favorite with all of its interactive, hands-on activities.
This year, Davis, a York University visiting professor, was also joined by three other Academy alumni: Dr. Richard C. Bell, Program Director of Sport Management at Colorado Mesa University; Dr. Fred Cromartie, the Academy’s Director of Doctoral Studies; and Dr. J. Barry Shaw, a Schreiner University Sport Management professor.
Not only did they help oversee the nearly 150 college volunteers representing 26 universities, together they conducted research on all the students to find out how the work experience at the National Football League event, which draws about 300,000 people, impacted them. Students filled out a pre- and post-surveys and the data is currently being collected and analyzed. The research will be reported soon by Davis and his fellow Academy alumni.
Davis reports that one student was offered a job as a result of his volunteer work at the NFL Experience.
“If you work hard and do the things you need to do, you can get a lot out of it,” Davis says. “This can be a fun experience for the students. The fans definitely all have fun and it’s a great way to keep them engaged.”
This was the 21st NFL Experience at Super Bowl XLVII and was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. Pro football’s interactive theme park offers participatory games, displays, entertainment attractions, kids’ football clinics, free autograph sessions and the largest football memorabilia show ever.
The annual NFL Experience, which is a spectacle that attracts families from across the country, gives fans a chance to relive their days in the backyard, or times cheering on their favorite athletes. Tickets cost $20-$25 and you do not have to have Super Bowl tickets to take part.
Davis took time after the event to speak with the Alumni Network about the valuable and fun sports experience.
Alumni Network: What are lessons that you’ve taken away from the NFL Experience that you use in your career?
Dexter Davis: There are always “teachable moments” at these events. I am a huge believer in experiential learning and this is one of the best experiences that students can have. There is everything from marketing to facility management to customer service. So, I guess the best thing for me is providing my students with a great experience.
Alumni Network: This is a popular event with fans. Can you share with us a story of one of your highlights during the past six years at the event?
Dexter Davis: I have a lot of great experiences. I had a female student “out throw” a guy that thought he was the next Peyton Manning. That was fun to watch. I got to meet Ken Griffey Jr. and play quarterback while his sons played defense against him. Again, this was just a fun experience to watch this amazing athlete just having fun being a dad and a football fan.
Alumni Network: Yeah, but what’s your time in the 40-yard dash?
Dexter Davis: Let’s just say that you can time my 40 with a sundial.
Alumni Network: You’re doing research this year involving the student volunteers. What are the top things you hear from them about working the NFL Experience?
Dexter Davis: We are hearing that students love the “once in a lifetime opportunity” of being a part of the Super Bowl and that they believe that these types of experiences are vital for their growth as sport management professionals.
Alumni Network: How important do you see this event as a marketing tool for the NFL, as well as similar events for other major sports?
Dexter Davis: All you have to know is that every major sport has something like the NFL Experience. The NBA, MLB, and NHL do it at their All-Star event and the NCAA has something like it at their major championships. Sponsors use it as a place to activate their sponsorships. It engages fans in the core activities and it allows them to take part in the “festivities” that make these mega-events just that.