Interview with Dr. Chad Seifried
John Cody of SportsDegreesOnline.org chatted with Chad Seifried from Louisiana State University. He talks about his past experience, and gives meaningful advice to people just starting out their career in sports, whether it be indicators for identifying a high-caliber graduate program, historical context as it relates to the sports industry or how to make career choices that are best for you.
About Dr. Chad Seifried
A Professor and Graduate Coordinator for the School of Kinesiology and Sport Management at the Louisiana State University. Prior to this opportunity, Dr. Seifried was a faculty member for The Ohio State University Graduate Sport Management program (2005-2009). His research interests embrace the use of historical methods to review the management history associated with organizations, individuals, and sport facilities to help highlight the contribution of history within contemporary management settings. Also acting as an advocate for the ‘historic turn’ (i.e., that history can help revise and/or create theory) within management, his work involving facilities primarily reviews innovation and modernization and does so through an interest to better understand the construction and preservation history of sport venues as a commercial attraction. With a special emphasis on the intercollegiate and professional sport contexts in the United States, Dr. Seifried’s work has also looked at tax laws, building codes, leases, and the management of postseason mega events.
John: You have built out an impressive academic career thus far, can you tell us a bit about your trajectory and how you decided to make a career out of sports, especially the academic side of sports?
Dr. Seifried: Originally, I began my pursuit of a sport-related career with interest in coaching men’s basketball at the college level or working as an athletic director for a large high school. As I progressed through school as an undergraduate, I saw the value in pursuing a graduate degree. The value I speak of included the obvious (i.e., learning more about the sport industry through educational opportunities provided by a graduate degree) but also through the chance to develop and expand my network of contacts. I found my contacts were helpful in recognizing openings in the job market and through their simultaneous interests in mentoring and informing me along the way I could be the best prepared individual for the industry. Notably, while in school pursuing my initial graduate degree, I learned how to research and write on questions of interest I had about the sport industry. Encouraged to continue my writing and research interests by my graduate school mentors, I pursued a doctoral degree where I continued to learn and further enhance my skills regarding research on the sport industry. Provided with additional opportunities to teach undergraduates, I decided that a career in academia was ultimately for me. Since my initial faculty appointment in 2005, I continued to research and teach on topics of interest I have on the sport industry. My main area of research focuses on sport facility management and more specifically on professional and intercollegiate sport venue construction. My approach often involves historical research, engagement with archives, and participation in facility tours to not only study the past but to understand how the past can inform the present and anticipate changes in the future. To date, I feel I have been successful producing a reputable scholarly and teaching record but I am excited about the prospective future. The sport industry is dynamic, continuously changing, and this nature provides all academics the chance to challenge themselves and learn more from the past so that we can create and inform the next generation of sport industry employees. I am regularly invigorated by my interaction with students, industry personnel, and emerging issues in sport but also events surfacing in contemporary society. I foresee continued scholarly success which I believe importantly supports my current academic home at Louisiana State University (i.e., students, institutional athletic programs, faculty peers) and our collective reputation. I really do believe that being a professor is the best job I could ever have.
The sport industry is dynamic, continuously changing, and this nature provides all academics the chance to challenge themselves and learn more from the past so that we can create and inform the next generation of sport industry employees.
John: I see you have quite a few papers published and have conducted research involving the intersection of history and sports management. Can you tell us a bit about your research that might be most interesting or useful for someone just getting into the world of sports.
Dr. Seifried: I think my area of research and particular methodological orientation (i.e., history) is very impactful to those individuals looking to potentially earn a position in the sport industry. First, the cliché that those that do not know history are condemned to repeat it is true. Learning about the history of the sport industry and particular fields within can help someone understand why current practices are in place but also anticipate future changes. In this, the perceived trends or changes overtime can help predict future paths by the patterns created.
Second, people and organizations often reflect upon their history and places of competition. For example, people are often nostalgic and sport organizations often capitalize on this through a variety of ways/initiatives. Tours, halls of fame, organizational/institutional archives, produced documentaries and histories and a variety of other activities are often utilized or developed to help connect sport with potential consumers, maintain loyalty or commitment, and recruit new interest in their products and services. There is definitely a need and opportunities available for individuals interested in the history of sport from multiple perspectives. Don’t be afraid to ask about how you can learn more get involved.
John: What do you see for the future of the sports industry? Currently, there is a dramatic impact caused by COVID-19, but once we are “back to normal” what sort of lingering effects or changes to the industry do you expect?
Dr. Seifried: COVID-19 certainly impacted the sport industry. I expect some changes and plans made to respond to the pandemic to control the virus will continue to impact future sport practices and responses to any other serious health-related outbreaks that might occur in the future. From a professional sport perspective, the bubbles offered by the NBA and NHL proved successful as the virus did not prohibit the concluding of their seasons. Players for both leagues proved bubbles and the protocols they followed could be effective. Therefore, should another pandemic take place, I think sport organizations will be quicker and more effective in their response. Next, I see the level of sanitation to be a focus for sport facility and event managers as I believe there will continue to be lingering worries about the spread of COVID-19 or other diseases. I further believe sport-related product and service providers will be very conscious of sanitation issues as well. I further anticipate the expectations for behavior and interaction in the workplace may also change. Many of us have got used to participating in meetings via online meeting programs/vehicles. I think we might see a more remote workforce for some jobs in the future, flexible job schedules and work locations. Lastly, some people may have found out that being a specialist is less important than having a variety of skills in the workplace to keep or protect their job during the downsizing that a lot of organizations engaged in to protect their business. I feel in the future that individuals should look to do more to make their skills appear more adaptive to help their organization respond to potential environmental or industry changes that might take place. Pursuing additional degrees or certifications could be a good tactic to better insure your value in a workplace.
(Check out our Careers Guide for some helpful info on the Sports Industry and Covid-19)
John: What advice would you give to students who are either searching for their first job in sports, or trying to decide what kind of job or career in sports they would like to have.
Dr. Seifried: My first piece of advice is to really make an effort to find those things you are most interested in and to learn more about it. You really can’t find a job until you know what you are interested in doing. Sport Management includes a variety of areas of study and thus professions. For instance, people working in the sport industry can pursue careers in marketing, facility management, event management, operations, administration, and law among other fields. Find people in those fields of interest to you and ask them questions. Most people working in the sport industry are generally happy to help others who ask for assistance or show interest in being mentored. Next, seek opportunities to join professional and/or academic organizations and volunteer for various events if possible. Student memberships are generally really affordable and those organizations often offer conferences, conventions, professional development workshops, etc. that might be beneficial for you to learn more about a field and network. Volunteering is an effective tactic to test if you might be interested in an area of sport management and to build up a network of contacts and possible mentors. Finally, do the best you can in every class and job or internship opportunity you take on. The effort of doing your best is very transferrable from one context to another and you will find you learn a lot more. Next, you will appreciate the interaction of the sport industry that much more if try your best constantly and collect information from those opportunities.
(Check out our Internship Guide for some helpful information on how to land an internship)
John: There are so many options for careers in sports, are there any sorts of avenues or positions that you think may be overlooked by jobseekers? i.e. What are some lesser known career options for graduates with a sports management degree
Dr. Seifried: Generally speaking, my interaction with some students shows their initial thoughts on the job market is limited to professional and college sport. However, the sport industry covers a variety of other locales. For instance, I often encourage students to look at amateur sport opportunities (e.g., Olympics, AAU, high schools and youth sport) and places like private clubs, military complexes, community or municipal centers, and recreation venues. I also like to relay to students they could potentially procure jobs with private or public organizations that produce sport-related products and services. As an example, other industries like retail, construction, technology, and advertising produce sport-related products and services that students within our major can obtain jobs from. Finally, there are a lot of potentially good places to search for jobs related to the field and context you are interested in working. Reach out to faculty and industry mentors to get some ideas on those opportunities/places to look for work. Be aware you might have had a class that covered all these different places for employment. That is something we offer at Louisiana State University.
(Our Careers Guide has some helpful info related to different careers within the sports industry)
John: What about students who are deciding on a sports manage master’s program, what should they look for in a master’s degree program?
Dr. Seifried: You should definitely look at a variety of items. For instance, you should ask if those programs have a demonstrated record of showcasing graduation and alumni success. A good item to look for to confirm success in these areas may involve information posted on their website and newsletters they may publish. Websites and newsletters will likely provide testimonials and the presentation of an engaged alumni network. This along with information about current faculty and student activity is a good sign of an outstanding graduate program. Next, you should take a look at the faculty. Ask questions about their experience (i.e., teaching or industry) and if they have any publication and presentation record. Generally speaking, the best graduate programs will have faculty with demonstrated publication and presentation success and may have a mix of industry experience as well. A key approach regarding this question is to look to see if faculty have an updated curriculum vitae or resume posted on their individual webpage. If that information is present and updated that is a good sign of a respectable graduate program. Finally, look for opportunities to reach out to faculty and/or program coordinators. The best programs are very responsive to student inquiries and willing to spend as much time as necessary in the application/consideration process to help answer any questions a prospective applicant might have. Furthermore, those responses should be detailed so that you can have all the information you need about a program. If programs engage in that type of behavior that should be a good sign they will be responsive to you once you get on campus.
(Check out our Sports Management Masters Degree Guide and Listings)
John: What sets apart LSU from other programs?
Dr. Seifried: I think the #1 item that sets our program apart from other programs involves the activity of our faculty. Our past and present faculty have always been active publishing, presenting, and reviewing research. This is important because this means our faculty are constantly being exposed to the newest ideas, theories, and information on the sport industry. Participating in conferences by attending sessions and presentations and reviewing research submitted to journals (i.e., as an editorial review board member or ad hoc reviewer) helps our faculty learn more about our own research topics but engage in scholarly discussion that we can utilize to enhance our research, teaching, and ultimately industry practice. Producing papers for publication also continuously revitalizes and inspires future research efforts and importantly informs our teaching so our students can benefit from the most up-to-date knowledge. A second item that I believe sets our program apart from others involves our interest in developing student writing and presentation skills. One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get from employers is the need for students to improve their writing and presentation skills. In our program, we offer a variety of opportunities for student to engage in writing, presenting, and researching activities that we believe will help their career goals. Furthermore, we give them substantial feedback on their writing and presentations to help them understand how to improve the quality of their products and communication, generally from the perspective of not just academics but industry personnel/employers.
John: Do you have any advice for students or people changing careers that are just starting their journey in the world of sports?
Dr. Seifried: Take opportunities to reach out to program coordinators and faculty to learn more about the sporty industry (broadly interpreted) and what a particular program can provide to potential students. Next, look to see if programs are offering virtual open houses or physical open houses so you can visit with faculty and current students of a program. Finally, be aware that who you know may be as important as what you know. Therefore, you should not just learn all you can but meet and correspond with as many people as possible to develop a network capable of assisting your career goals. Also don’t be afraid to volunteer for various sport events. You will be surprised at what you can learn as a volunteer about a potential career in sport and if that is really a place for you.