UCM approves sports communication minor

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ANDY LYONS, News Editor—
Looking to be the next Erin Andrews? The next Stuart Scott? Have a career path that involves effectively communicating to the sports media?  A new minor available through collaboration between multiple departments will provide students the opportunity to learn effective sports communication.
The sports communication minor was approved by the Board of Governors last Friday and will be available to students beginning this fall. Joe Moore, assistant professor of communication, said that the minor is not only for digital media production students, but is a way for any student interested in sport communication to learn the “ins and outs” of sports media coverage.
Moore also said that the minor is a way to get immersed in the field, with very specific training on covering sports. The primary teachers will be communication department teachers involved with the digital media production major, but will also include Adam Horn, assistant professor of public relations, for public relations classes and Robert Fernquist, assistant professor of sociology, for sociology of sports classes.
“We wanted this major to be interdisciplinary so students outside of digital media production majors would be interested in it,” Moore said. “It works well with the new sport management major, so someone that wants to be an athletic director, for example, has a better idea of how to serve and work with the media.”
Michael Godard, professor and chair of the department of nutrition and kinesiology, also sees this as an opportunity for non-communication department students to be comfortable when working with the media in their respective careers.
“We think that this will be a popular minor for students that are in our new sport management major,” he said. “Above and beyond media it will give students a great background in communications in general, and students in our major who want to focus on the management will have a better appreciation for some of the people that they may be working with in certain sport industries.”
Along with the chance to reach students outside of the communication department, Moore said that student interest in sports, coupled with UCM being in one of the best divisions in Division II athletics, also played a hand in making this new minor a possibility.
“It was a niche that we saw, so many students interested in sports; one of the best DII divisions, lots of semi-pro minor league teams in the area, and no one else in our area is doing this minor, so it fits with what we’re doing,” he said.
Moore also said that this minor will help build the UCM Media Network with webcasts of games, the possibility of things such as a weekly coach’s show, a radio show, highlight reels and more.
“The skills gathered from experience with the Media Network will translate to the classroom, and vice versa,” Moore said.
Students are already responding to the UCM Media Network as a way to gain real world experience in the broadcast field. The Media Network primarily broadcasts sporting events, but has covered debates, with plans to expand coverage in the future.
Godard said he sees the new additions as chances to give UCM graduates a better chance when entering the work force.
“The inclusion of this minor will provide additional options for our sport management students that are just not available at any other institution in our region,” he said. “The quality educational experience and degree that will result from this major and minor combination is exciting, and fills a need that is critical to set our students apart and will make them even more marketable.”
Melissa Conger, a junior digital media production student, said she viewed the Media Network as a way to get hands-on experience in the broadcast field, but the experience helped reaffirm her decision.
“I fell in love with live television production,” she said. “The rush of being live and only having one take at everything is probably the best feeling. I knew I had to do this for my career.”
Moore said that students had asked about the possibility of a major or minor more involved in sport communication and that played a small factor in bringing it to UCM.  Students, like Conger, see this as part of why they choose Division II schools.
“It’s things like this (sport communication minor) that make me so thankful to come to UCM,” Conger said. “Bigger universities and colleges don’t help guide the students toward becoming the best at what they want to do. Here, we are encouraged to get involved, and we are provided with opportunities to develop skills, especially skills aimed towards our career emphasis.”