Examining the business of sports

In a global society, perhaps nothing has the power to unite people worldwide more than sports. As TU’s Warren Clinic Associate Professor of Sports Management Adrien Bouchet notes, “We live in sports-minded societies.” And the statistics validate his statement. International sports market intelligence firm Sportcal estimates that more than 330 million people attended the top 25 sporting events in the world in 2014 — a figure that surpasses the entire U.S. population.

Much of Bouchet’s research examines how the business of sports affects society and the global economy. Last summer, he and Brian Walkup, assistant professor of finance, traveled to Germany to study the Bundeslige (the country’s soccer league) courtesy of a grant funded by TU’s Center for Global Education.

“The trend in Germany is for huge corporations like Volkswagen, Bayer, adidas and Evonik to purchase equity shares in the country’s sports teams. This contrasts with U.S. teams, which generally are owned by individuals,” said Bouchet. “We wanted to speak to executives and academics to find out what’s behind this trend.”

Volkswagen employs about 100,000 workers in its headquarters, located in the small German city of Wolfsburg. Bouchet explains that the company was looking for ways to make the city a cool destination for its employees, who love soccer. “Owning a soccer team made sense for Volkswagen from an employee recruitment and retention strategy,” he said.

Audi, the German automobile manufacturer, bought 10 percent of Bayern Munich because of its status as one of the world’s top soccer clubs, giving the company prime exposure around the world.

Bouchet and Walkup have summarized the research they conducted during the summer and will submit it for future publication in academic journals. They also will create a case study to bring business concepts to life in the classroom.

“In this field, it’s important to connect our research with practical application,” he said. Bouchet also emphasizes the significance of sport research in establishing ties with other universities. “While in Germany, we visited three universities to present our research to their sport management faculty in hopes of strengthening our academic relationships around the world.”