It’s an exciting time for French sport.
With Les Bleus bringing home the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the Rugby World Cup heading to France in 2023, and Paris hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in 2024, the next five years is an important time for France on the world stage.
Meanwhile, the economic value of competitive sport grows year on year—the Rio Olympics in 2016, for example, is said to have had a combined market value of $1.5 trillion. Accordingly, the world of sport is increasingly business-oriented, demanding a higher standard of business professionals in the industry.
The Sports Management School (SMS), part of the EDC Group and located in La Défense and La Villette, Paris, aspires to be at the forefront of this. Its MBA in Sports Management aims to prepare its students to thrive in the industry.
“Sport knows no boundaries,” says Michael Tapiro, director and founder of SMS. It is this sense of aspiration which has driven the school since its inception in 2010.
From sportsman to businessman
Michael’s positive mentality about sport as a business is “a result of 25 years of reflection”, guided by his own experience as a sportsman. He played professional rugby for several years at Stade Francais, a Paris-based rugby club, before studying an MBA at Babson College in Massachusetts, where he continued to play and coach rugby.
Michael (pictured) helped found Sports Management School in 1995, together with the EDC Business School in Paris, and Alain-Dominique Perrin, the president of Cartier who had also founded Sup de Luxe, the Paris-based luxury business school.
The school aimed to supply a growing market, by training and equipping professionals to facilitate the new business side of sport.
The MBA in Sports Management at SMS has a strong academic and practical balance. On the academic side, students study marketing and management strategy of different sports, as well as communications and public relations. On the practical side, students have real-life consulting opportunities, as well as projects related to the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics.
“Nowadays sport is in the hands of legal, financial, management and marketing experts,” Michael pronounces. But this doesn’t mean the International MBA is filled with narrow-focused business professionals—a passion for sport is crucial.
While experience in the sports business, either academically or professionally, isn’t mandatory, Michael looks for students with a genuine interest in sport and a keen desire to learn. The school, Michael emphasizes, is a “real sports institution”, providing the link between students and the industry—the sports business professionals who design and teach the course.
The results are particularly impressive, with 93% of students finding employment in the sports world after graduation.
These professionals not only provide the network which sets SMS apart, but help to nurture the growing businesses of students and graduates. The school offers a “personalized follow-up” to students, who will mentor and accompany students in their business creation even after graduation.
The changing face of sport
The constantly evolving face of sport has forced Michael and Sports Management School to adapt.
For example, Michael has welcomed the rise of e-sports, a form of competition incorporating video game technology. E-sports have grown in recognition over recent years—recently seeking Olympic accreditation and submitted as a possible category for Paris 2024—while global e-sport revenue is expected to exceed $1 billion in 2020.
MBA students at SMS can opt to take courses on e-sports, in their second year getting the opportunity to organize and execute an e-sports tournament at the school—an example of the growing number of new opportunities for business professionals in the sport industry.
“It is certain that in two to three years, new positions will emerge,” Michael suggests, “And new trends such as virtual reality will become more and more essential in the field of sport.”
The Sports Management School has really taken the ‘no borders’ mentality to heart. It has more recently opened campuses in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in Barcelona, Spain. Students have the opportunity to spend an academic week studying at one of these partner institutions abroad, as well as in London.
Their goal, Michael sets out, is to direct their “professional know-how” to as many people as possible, aiming to increase their overseas intake through their International MBA. With the spotlight intensifying on French sport, the opportunities and projects in Paris are increasingly promising.