A new concentration and minor within MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment will help fill the increasing need for sports media professionals throughout the country.
The Sports Media concentration in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media started this fall for new and returning students. The new programs are a part of a growing trend in higher education of formalized curricula for sports media.
“The sports industry continues to grow and affect numerous areas of the economy,” said Chris Bacon, assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Strategic Media. “Colleges and universities throughout the country understand the legitimacy and need of a dedicated curriculum. Our goal is that MTSU will be a destination institution for those who want to pursue careers in sports media.”
The mission of the new concentration is to offer students targeted educational and hands-on opportunities to be successful in the sports industry.
“There are numerous opportunities locally, regionally, and nationally for our students to gain experience and find jobs in the sports industry,” said Greg Pitts, professor and director of MTSU’s journalism school. “Using a hands-on approach through our dedicated student media, our students will have classes and experiences to help them launch careers in sports reporting, broadcasting, public relations or sports information after graduation.”
MTSU students also have the ability to minor in Sports Media as well.
“The minor in Sports Media is a great opportunity for students outside of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media to receive education and training in the sports industry,” said Zeny Sarabia-Panol, professor and interim dean of the College of Media and Entertainment. “Our goal is that it will expose them to the industry and be a valuable piece of their education at MTSU.”
MTSU senior Kaitlyn Runion of Jonesborough, Tennessee, is thrilled that future students will have the opportunity to focus more intently on sports media.
The prospective May graduate, who is majoring in Journalism and Strategic Media and minoring in Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Studies, has had a variety of hands-on that she “wouldn’t trade for the world.”
She’s had a paid sideline reporting position for both MTSU basketball teams for ESPN+ and a volunteer position providing color commentary for the MTSU soccer and volleyball teams for broadcasts on ESPN3.
“I think that the sports industry is so important. I was an athlete for 15 years and from the time I was a little girl, sports have been the most entertaining and constant part of my life,” Runion said. “Whether I was playing a sport or watching on the sideline, I was fully invested and infatuated with all aspects of the environment. With this new concentration, I believe this will give students an opportunity to find a major they love.”
MTSU senior Jessie Steele of Seymour, Tennessee, was able to take a few of the classes that are now part of the concentration “and they were some of the best I’ve taken at MTSU. I’m jealous of the incoming students that now have sports media as an option!”
Schedule to graduate in December, Steele has gained valuable experience this past year through hosting two of her own shows on WMTS-FM 88.3, the university’s 680-watt student-run radio station. One is a sports talk show and the other is a music show that features local singer/songwriters, she said.
“I’ll be continuing my music show up until December when I graduate. Being a DJ has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve had at MTSU!” said Steele.
She feels the introduction of the sports media concentration “has brought so many amazing opportunities” to the College of Media and Entertainment students.
“Last semester alone, I had the opportunity to do production work with ESPN at the NFL Draft and work as a brand ambassador for the Nashville Sounds thanks to the connections I’ve made through this program,” she said. “Not many schools offer students this much hands-on experience. Even though I’m graduating soon, I’m looking forward to coming back in a few years and seeing how much sports media has grown at MTSU.”