Students to get glimpse into soccer ethics with Oct. 8 panel

Oct. 5, 2015

Jonathan Toman
[email protected]

In coordination with the Daniel’s Fund Ethics Initiative at UCCS, the College of Business Sport Management Program will bring four panelists from the world of soccer to UCCS to discuss ethics on Oct. 8.

The event will include a student workshop at the Upper Lodge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., a ceremony and meet-and-greet on Alpine Field until around 2:15 and a networking and panel discussion at the Garden of the Gods Resort from 5:30-8 p.m.

The four person panel will include U.S. Women’s World Cup head coach Jill Ellis, CEO of Everton soccer team Robert Elstone, Fox Sports soccer analyst Eric Wynalda and Colorado Rapids sporting director Padraig Smith.

The student workshop and Alpine Field event are geared toward students, while the panel discussion is mainly for broader community members.

Although the events are filling up fast, interested students can still visit either the UCCS sport management website or the Daniel’s Fund Ethics Initiative at UCCS website to sign up.

The timing of the event is partly due to the start of a Soccer Management track this fall and a corresponding relationship with the Colorado Rapids soccer team within the SMP.

“It seemed like a great opportunity to combine the kickoff of this program with the Daniels Ethics Initiative and talk about soccer ethics, which is a hot topic in the media lately,” said director of the SMP, Eric Olson.

Tracy Gonzalez-Padron, director of the Daniel’s Fund Ethics Initiative at UCCS, said the preexisting interest in ethics in sports at UCCS (via the sport management and professional golf management programs) and in Colorado Springs was critical to bringing the event to UCCS.

“We find that the topic of sports holds a strong interest for our student population and we also see that there is a need to address some of the ethical issues,” said Gonzalez-Padron.

“It’s something that the students can relate to and so it gives an opportunity to have a dialogue about ethics and ethical leadership in an organization or a business.”

Students will serve as part of that dialogue, according to Gonzalez-Padron. Some students will serve as ambassadors and work with guests, while others will create a document based on the discussion that will look at how to prevent ethical issues in soccer at all levels.

“We’re giving them the tools to have a great dialogue when the people come, so it’s not just you go and listen to them and then you leave,” she said.

The student workshop will be interactive, as students will be encouraged to use their phone to answer polls about a situation that the panelists will also discuss.

Olson sees the event as an opportunity for students in his program to gain a better feel for the real-world.

“They get to start thinking about issues that they may not have encountered,” he said. “If you get involved with a sport, it’s not just about players and customers, there’s leagues and media and government agencies and legal issues that have to be addressed as well as ethical.”

“It gives them a good exposure to things they may not pick up in the classroom and they certainly wouldn’t pick up as a young intern,” Olson said.

The addition of the soccer management track is supplemented to an existing relationship for the SMP with the Everton soccer team in England. One sport management student is sent to Everton each year. The partnership is in its fifth year.

“When I grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, nobody played soccer,” Olson said. “Everybody plays soccer now – a lot of them quit, but everybody tries it because you don’t have to be huge, a normal person can play. And so they grow up with it now and I just watch as the popularity keeps rising.”

Gonzalez-Padron explained the high interest in the event could be due to the ethical issues facing soccer, specifically FIFA, the game’s governing body.

The growth of soccer, which Olson said is second in popularity to football with Americans ages 12-25, led to sport management’s approach to working with soccer teams as opposed to other schools who partner more with the NFL or MLB.

“We don’t want to replicate that,” Olson said. “We don’t want to be the 201st program doing that, we want to build on something that’s unique.”