Since 2016, we have co-taught “Sports Philanthropy 101: How Sports Influence Society,” a course that we feel is ahead of its time because of its incorporation of social media use, exposure to professionals in our sports networks, and real-world consulting projects.
We center the class on the concept of the “Living Textbook”–a term we coined together to describe the innovative way our students learn from our guest speakers. We bring in major sports executives from all major leagues, athlete foundations, and local and global sport professionals. Each guest speaker is chosen carefully to represent an important industry segment, and the students are primed to treat each guest lecturer as if they are a chapter from a text. During these lectures, they learn from and interact with their “textbook material” in real time. Past guest speakers have included Chris Zimmerman, the St. Louis Blues President and CEO, and Molly Higgins, the Los Angeles Rams vice president of community affairs and engagement.
We weave Twitter, an active social media platform for the sports world, into this “Living Textbook” concept by requiring students to both live-tweet highlights from lectures and prepare via Twitter beforehand. Using #TUSportsPhil, before each class students share questions, articles of interest, and quotes; this affords them the ability to engage other Twitter users, including their classmates and guest speakers, in the world of sports.Their enthusiastic embrace of the technology helps them understand the positive connectivity possibilities of the platform.
COVID-19 has required all of Trinity’s classes to adapt. “Sports Philanthropy,” which met every week in person, was quick to shift to all of its “Living Textbook” lectures online. And, students are still using Twitter to prepare for lectures and tweet during them.
The biggest change we’ll see because of the transition, though, will be with the ultimate culmination of the course–a consulting project for Spurs Gives, the charitable arm of Spurs Sports and Entertainment. Students have had to pivot group project work with the Spurs to the Zoom platform with time during class in Zoom breakout rooms. The presentations to the Spurs will be in real time to Spurs executives, with students presenting from their homes across the US (and one student participating from Vietnam). While the students will miss out on attending a Spurs home game, they will benefit from virtual group project experience and presentation creation and delivery. Though the conclusion to the Spring 2020 is unique, in so many ways, the “Living Textbook” proves to be a creative and engaging way for students to keep learning as they navigate the complex, global landscape.
Both Jacob Tingle '95 and Allison Hawk '88 contributed to this story. Jacob Tingle ’95 and Allison Hawk ’88 are a duo of sports-minded Trinity graduates. Tingle is the chair of the sport management minor, as well as director for Experiential Learning at Trinity. Hawk is a former NFL executive and owns her own communications firm.