PJ's Sports and Entertainment Marketing class brings 'new element' to curriculum

Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School

Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a seven-part series on Pope John’s new course offerings, which are exercise science, design thinking, principles of engineering and design technology, principles of entrepreneurship, fashion and retail marketing, sports and entertainment marketing, and introduction to guitar. To check out courses like this or any other of our dynamic educational offerings, come visit our Open House on April 29 at 3 p.m. or visit www.popejohn.org.

SPARTA — Want to know how a professional baseball team gets people to come to the ballpark? Want to know how a Super Bowl commercial is made? Want to know how colleges recruit student-athletes? 

Well, students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School can answer these questions after learning topics like them through one of the school’s newest classes: Sports and Entertainment Marketing.

“It’s a great class,” Pope John senior Peacemaker Bakinahe said. “It brings a new element here to Pope John. All of us are into sports and entertainment, so it is interesting to see what exactly happens in these fields and how teams and celebrities that we watch are portrayed in the business world.”

The idea of having a sports and entertainment marketing course at Pope John was introduced last year by Grace Halevy, a teacher in the Business Department. Halevy, who graduated with a marketing degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology and is a big fan of sports, saw that it was being taught more and more at the high school level and felt that it would be great for Pope John students to learn what the field has to offer.

“I found that some other schools in the area had fashion classes and sports marketing, and I saw that this was a growing field in colleges,” Halevy said. “So I thought that this would be new and exciting to teach to our kids.”

Once the course received approval from the school’s Academic Council, it was put into place for this year. So far, it has been a great course for the 52 students to experience.

The students have not only learned the basic principles of marketing, but have also explored the many facets of the sports and entertainment industries, including event management, sponsorship, promotion, planning, endorsements, legal and ethical issues, collegiate, amateur and professional sports and their impact on the economy and society.

For instance, Halevy said the students have done projects such as being a recruiter for a particular college and sport and having to sell their school to prospective student-athletes. They have also put together commercials for certain sports products and analyze the current trends in marketing through reading publications like Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly

“We try to give them a good base about marketing, but also try to bring the real-world happenings of sports and entertainment into the classroom,” Halevy said. 

One of those “real-world” applications occurred Wednesday, as they got to learn from marketing representatives from the Sussex County Miners, who visited their class to talk about their daily experiences promoting the independent professional baseball team based in Frankford and how to get people to come to Skylands Stadium for other events throughout the year.

“It was informative,” Bakinahe said. “Just to see them come in and show us that they are doing the same principles that we learned here is great.”

“They really showed us that it just wasn’t about baseball,” fellow Pope john senior Cameron Sacco added. “They showed us how they go about promoting their other events and how they attract other people to come.”

This class has certainly made an impact on students like Bakinahe, who decided this year to help start a digital marketing business called Essential Perspectives — a company that aids local businesses in their attempts to advertise and grow their companies through digital optimization and social media automation.

“What I have learned in this class, I have used in this business,” said Bakinahe, who plans to major in marketing and business administration at Assumption College. “Hopefully this venture continues and it is profitable, but it is a great start.”

Sacco says this class has helped her a ton, as she earned acceptance into Rutgers University’s business program. Sacco, who wants to work in the stock market one day, feels that this course should be one that all Pope John students take during their high school careers. 

“I think this is phenomenal,” Sacco said. “It will really help you in the future no matter where you are going. You have to learn how to market yourself in any situation.”

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