Twenty students from Bowling Green State University's Sport Management Alliance were selected for support roles at Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, including working the Super Bowl Experience and assisting with gameday operations on Super Bowl Sunday.

BGSU Sports Management Alliance students go behind the scenes at Super Bowl LVII

SMA students fill supporting roles at the Super Bowl, see massive planning effort that goes into America’s biggest sporting event

There is much more to Super Sunday than just the game – and 20 Bowling Green State University students had the chance to witness it all from behind the scenes at America’s biggest sporting event.

Twenty students from the BGSU Sport Management Alliance, the pre-professional organization affiliated with the BGSU Sport Management program, were selected for supporting roles at Super Bowl LVII, which involved traveling to Arizona to be on-site for the week of activities and the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

SMA made trips to the Super Bowl in previous years, but two scaled-back Super Bowls due to the pandemic limited the number of support staff from college programs and the local community.

Students from BGSU had a chance to interact with many prominent NFL players at Super Bowl LVII, including getting a picture with New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan (left).

When junior Cassidy Sutton became president of the organization before this school year, however, she decided she wanted to revive the Super Bowl trip with back-to-normal operations, so she and the rest of the organization’s executive board huddled with sport management staff to make the trip a reality. 

“When I became president, I decided I wanted to make it happen, so I talked with our professors and staff in the Sport Management department, who put me in contact with the right people,” said Sutton, a native of Plainfield, Illinois.

“For me, I always had a set idea that football was my favorite and I’d like to be there someday, so actually getting to be there and seeing how it happens was really eye-opening and pretty amazing to see how everything comes together for the biggest day of the year for the NFL.”

During the week of the Super Bowl, BGSU students spent three days in downtown Phoenix working the Super Bowl Experience, a fan-friendly festival that includes games, live music, autograph sessions and photo opportunities. 

On Sunday, students worked various support roles that assisted gameday operations both inside and outside the stadium, allowing them to see the massive scale of the Super Bowl up close.

Caitlin Shortridge ’17 ’20, an assistant teaching professor of sport management, accompanied SMA students on the trip, which is exactly the type of experience she encourages students to try while they are undergraduates at BGSU. 

“One of the things I always push for in my classrooms is go out and explore,” Shortridge said. “I say, ‘Do the things,’ all the time because we have so many opportunities here on campus and through Sport Management Alliance that students should take advantage of, whether that’s just a couple hours setting up for an event at the Stroh Center or applying to work the Super Bowl.”

For students who aim to make a career in the sports industry, the chance to experience the biggest sports day of the year in the U.S. was also a chance to apply what their classes cover at BGSU.

“We learn about event management and finances in our classes, so going to an event like this puts all of our classwork into a real-life experience, which was really cool,” said Emma Richardson, a junior from Alberta, Canada.

Though SMA is mostly composed of sport management majors, the organization is open to students from other academic programs who are also interested in sports-related careers.

Aside from working the NFL’s biggest game, groups of students also had the chance to tour Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and attend the Phoenix Open, a PGA Tour event that coincided with Super Bowl week.

Jack Bilek, a senior from Medina, Ohio, said the chance to bond with the rest of the organization was part of what made the trip great.

“Being able to build connections with everybody in the group and getting to know them more personally, whether it was just at TopGolf or walking around the Phoenix Open, that was really cool,” he said.

Richardson, who also plays women’s soccer at BGSU, said working the Super Bowl gave everyone a chance to see the full picture of how their degree can be applied in professional sports. 

“I’ve been on the playing side and on the fan side, but this let me see the operations and event management side, which I hadn’t really seen before,” Richardson said. “Seeing how much you have to put into an event like that and how many people it takes was really eye-opening. It was amazing to see how the Super Bowl is put on.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 12/11/2023 04:21PM