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Former NBA Vice President Visits UWL

Melissa Petroff, Sports Reporter

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The Exercise and Sport Science (ESS) Program on campus welcomed Dr. Bill Sutton to campus to speak to students on April 25, in Centennial Hall as part of the department’s Distinguished Scholar program. The lecture was open to the public, but the audience consisted mostly of ESS majors.  

Sutton has extensive experience in the sport industry. He served as the Vice President of team marketing and business operations for the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1999 to 2006. During the lecture, he explained how he enjoyed working for a progressive organization such as the NBA. He is also the principal and founder of Bill Sutton & Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in strategic marketing and revenue enhancement. 

He has had previous academic appointments at various universities, but currently holds the position of professor and founding director of the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Program at the University of South Florida.  

His presentation last Wednesday was on the topic of “The Battle for Attention”. He spoke about creating, attracting, and maintaining attention and how sports and entertainment thrive. Sutton connected the ways showman P.T. Barnum, promoter Bill Veeck, television personality Ed Sullivan, and media tycoon Oprah Winfrey mastered the art of capturing attention of their viewers. 

“Throughout the early years of entertainment and sport, people got their consumers attention through promoting their teams by engaging with fans – when the fans have a positive experience, they’ll come back for more” said Sutton.  

Sutton explained how the implementation of music in movies and television captured the attention of consumers. When MTV was just a musical channel, it promoted the integration of rock and hip-hop music, specifically with RUN-D.M.C. and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”. Putting music to highlight reels for athletes was a way that the NBA figured out to attract younger crowds, especially when the words fit with the actions of the athlete in the reel. We see sport organizations use music as a tool for promotion, especially with the explosion of social media marketing. 

UWL junior Chelsea Norkol, who is pursuing a degree in Sport Management, attended the lecture and later advising session with Sutton. “I think connecting with the distinguished lecturers is an asset to use in the future. Considering that many opportunities often arise through the people we know, it’s a perfect chance to make ourselves stand out to those that can help us progress in our careers”.  

Along with the advising session that was open to students admitted to the Sport Management program, Sutton also visited Sport Management classes during his time on campus. In these smaller settings, he was able to talk about his enthusiasm for teaching students and exposing them to experiences and people in the industry. Norkol noted, “I loved hearing about how passionate he was about helping students pursue their dreams by connecting them with people he has worked with”. 

UWL junior Ben Lincks attended the lecture and was also in a class that Sutton visited. He agreed with Norkol that the lectures benefit all students and expressed that anyone can take advice from the lecturer, even if they do not do exactly what your career aspiration is. “One of the things he told us that also stuck with me was, when networking and meeting new people, keep your “web” smaller and tighter. It is better to know less individuals very well who can vouch for you, than to know a lot of people who do not know you very well,” Lincks said.

The Distinguished Scholar program has brought in educators and researchers from the ESS field since 2008. The faculty in the ESS department were excited to have Sutton take part in the lecture series and share his knowledge with UWL students. 

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About the Contributor
Melissa Petroff, Sports Reporter


Year: Junior
Hometown: Waukesha, WI
Major: Sport Management
Minor: Business Administration
Other Campus Involvement: I am the Sponsorship...

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