In 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series Championship – rallying fans through all seven games, and inspiring a young Blake Schaffer to not only be a lifelong fan, but also to pursue a career in sports.
“It was the run that started my fan-interest in sports – I became a huge baseball fan and then later became a big football fan and sports fan in general,” he said. “When it came time to choose a degree path, there was nothing that came close to my interest in a career in sports. In my opinion, doing something that interests you is the only way to be happy in your work.”
Schaffer, of St. Louis, Missouri, will graduate from Southeast this month with a Bachelor of Science in sport management.
Schaffer decided a career in sport management was the perfect fit, and Southeast was where he needed to be.
“I chose Southeast because it has one of the best sport management programs in the country,” he said. “It is a COSMA (Commission on Sport Management Accreditation) accredited program. The practical components of the courses allow students to get real-world experience that will come in handy down the line.”
Southeast’s sport management program is focused on preparing students to work in the sport industry, combining sport-specific courses with a business administration minor. The program also provides hands-on opportunities to produce, promote, organize and facilitate local sporting events, services and products.
This portion of the program led him to securing an internship last year with the Kansas City Sports Commission.
“I wanted to intern with them because I knew they were a highly professional organization that could help me grow as a sport manager,” he said.
Schaffer interned with the KC Sports Commission from mid-January to mid-March this year.
“As an intern my responsibilities were to cooperate with Sports Commission staff and several high profile individuals and organizations in the community in organizing national events such as the Men’s and Women’s Big 12 Basketball Championships as well as local events such as The Big 12 Run and WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration,” he said. “I also assisted with planning and execution of Sports Commission marketing assets, such as creating social media posts to boost ticket sales for the Big 12 Basketball Championships.”
The greatest highlight was helping plan and execute the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Parade, he said.
“My main duties were in assisting the loading of players, coaches, business staff and families onto the shuttles taking them from the gathering site at Arrowhead Stadium to the parade vehicles at the beginning of the parade route,” Schaffer said
“I also assisted at the parade rally stage, where we credentialed specific zones that each person was permitted to be in,” he said. “Players and coaches were granted stage access, essential staff were granted backstage access inside Union Station, coach families were granted access to the area directly in front of the stage, and so on”
The skills and knowledge he gained at Southeast helped prepare him for the rigorous expectations and program with the Kansas City Sport Commission, he said.
“The main thing I’ve taken away from my experiences at Southeast is communication skills — in person, by email, by phone, and by other written forms,” Schaffer said. “All of the experiences I’ve had with classmates and professors and all the written assignments and speeches I’ve done have taught me the communication skills that I will need in a career in sports.”
Schaffer, who hopes to one day become a professional sports event or facility manager, is looking forward to starting his career and to be a part of something that brings people and communities together.
“In the current situation we are in, that is something we have been drained of,” he said. “Due to the coronavirus, it may be awhile before the sports world revives again, but when it does, it will be back with more fan interest than” before the COVID-19 pandemic.