Sport Management Class Visits Ireland, England for Spring Break
They aren’t the top two Spring Break destinations for most college students, but they were for 21 students in Dr. Todd Harrison’s “International Cultures and Sport – England and Ireland” class this year.
The course has prepared students all semester for the trip which brought them to Dublin, Ireland as well as England with stops in Liverpool and London. In a week’s time, they toured different facilities and met with Irish and English sport executives and scholars who taught them how sport fits into the cultural fabrics of their countries. Dr. Emily Dane-Staples also accompanied the class on the trip.
Matt Taylor, a sophomore Sport Management major and Finance minor, had only ever visited Canada until now, and was excited to be a part of the class.
They arrived in Dublin on March 1, and went right to touring the city. They stopped at Aviva Stadium where they learned how to run a multi-purpose venue. They also went to Croke Park, the national stadium for Gaelic Football and Hurling, the two national sports of Ireland. While there, they got to take in a Gaelic Football game, which Taylor said gave them a great view of sports there. The group also made a stop at the National Aquatic Centre, the premier venue for competitive swimming, diving, and water polo in Ireland.
In Liverpool, they visited Anfield Road, the home of Liverpool Football Club of the Premier League. They saw an Under 21 soccer match between Liverpool and Reading Football Club. The group also visited the Liverpool Football Club Youth Academy and learned about how the soccer club system and youth player development works.
Their next stop was London where they stayed for five days. Among their stops were popular tourist destinations including Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and the London Bridge. But, they also got a glimpse of the London Olympic Park, even seeing the pool where Michael Phelps achieved his Olympic medals.
Harrison also led the class to a tour of the national Lord’s Cricket Ground, and Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat stadium which Taylor called “a sight to see.”
Additionally, they took a tour and sat in on a lecture at Wimbledon Tennis Club where they learned about the Wimbledon brand. On the last day in London, the students watched a Premier League soccer game at Sellhurst Park Stadium, where they took in a game between notorious rivals Crystal Palace Football Club and Southampton Football Club.
“The energy of the fans and the passion of the entire crowd was unlike any sport event I have been to. The entire trip gave me experiences I will remember forever. The group became very close and made the experience that much more enjoyable,” said Taylor.
And while he said it is tough to pick his favorite memory from the trip, Taylor very much enjoyed the stadium tours.
“The tours were great because we were able to see the media rooms as well as the locker rooms. It was unbelievable to see where players such as Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, and many more once prepared for a game,” said Taylor.
He said that he took away many lessons from each stop as well, learning about how to market to a certain group of people and how to put fans in the stadiums seats.
“In class, we learned about the different cultures as well as the difference in sports in both countries. And seeing first-hand how each sport is marketed and run on a daily basis gave us great insight on the day-to-day operations of a number of sport organizations,” said Taylor.
The group's stop at Buckingham Palace.
The group at Wimbledon.