At the front of the room, the head coach, the athletic director and the sports information director took reporters’ questions about a college baseball player’s arrest on charges of speeding and marijuana possession.
But the college, the scenario, and the roles and names of those asking and answering questions were all fictitious.
The exercise was part of a sports information class project at Henry Clay High School in Lexington for juniors Drew Kindy, Noah Gann and Charlie Henry.
Health and physical education teacher Crystal Washington said she’s taught a sports information course that includes sports marketing at Henry Clay for at least the last four years, and modeled the course after one she experienced in graduate school at Eastern Kentucky University.
Washington said she wanted to offer students a way to learn about a side of sports that did not involve playing on an athletic team, giving them a view of “the business side” and broadcasting, advertising and marketing. The sports information course lets students know “that it’s not fun and games all the time,” said Washington. “They have to learn how to write in a certain way, present yourself in a certain way and be able to speak” to the public.
Learning about sports information, said Noah, “helped my writing and my speaking.”
In Fayette County Public Schools, Bryan Station, Lafayette, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Tates Creek high schools all offer a sports marketing course, the principals at those schools said.
Dunbar principal Betsy Rains said the course for sports marketing is designed to develop an understanding of the marketing concepts and theories that apply to sports and events. Students learn about communication skills, distribution, management, pricing, promotion, selling, operations and the economic impact involved in the sports and event marketing industries.
The sports and event marketing courses meet Kentucky academic standards, according to information provided by Lafayette principal Bryne Jacobs.
Students are required to demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of marketing concepts and basic economic concepts.
Drew, 16, said part of the sports information project at Henry Clay was to create a fictitious university, a fictitious head coach for a baseball team, university president, athletic director, sports information director, as well as a fictitious roster.
He said he learned how to write news releases and he and his classmates “created a whole press kit.” The press kit included a mascot and logo.
The scenario for the project, said Drew, “was that a player got in trouble with the police, he was suspended, so we had to hold a news conference for it.”
As the fictitious sports information director, Drew’s job was to tell the media what had happened to the fictitious player, to call on his classmates posing as members of the media who had questions and “to keep the press conference going in the right direction.”
Drew is on Henry Clay’s baseball team. Noah, 16, said he plays football for Henry Clay. Charlie, 17, plays football and baseball for Henry Clay .
Washington said student athletes often take her course.
Noah said he and his classmates also took a sports officiating class the first semester. In the sports information and marketing course, Noah said he was learning about the financial side of sports. As the fictitious head coach at the news conference, Noah had to figure out a way to tell reporters how he was going to discipline the student athlete.
Charlie said that as the fictitious athletic director of the school they called Holden University, he had to map out what he was going to say to reporters on behalf of the university.
“I think I’ve learned the behind-the-scenes part of it,” Charlie said.