Among the many ways that the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development helps students is by providing material support for their vocation journeys.
One such opportunity is the SGC Conference Learning Scholarship, which will reimburse a student for the fees incurred when attending a conference or other event that grows “their career acumen and networking skills.”
Ari Eizen ’22SB, a native of Southfield, Michigan, and a business analytics major with a minor in marketing at Sy Syms School of Business, is a recent recipient of the scholarship. He attended Living Sport, which brings students to large sporting events for learning opportunities. He is going to be attending the University of Michigan next year for Sports Management.
YU News caught up with him as he traveled back from the Final Four and is getting ready to move on to the next phase of his life.
Congratulations on receiving the SGC scholarship and having the chance to work so close to the “big show,” as some might call it.
It seems from your background that you have always been interested in sports: you’ve written about them, did research on them along with statistical analyses. What is it about sports that draws you to them?
Sports have always been special to me. They are my safe place, where I feel most comfortable. What draws me to them is their ability to bring people together and inspire them. No matter what background you come from, once you step into an arena or see someone else walking down the street with the same team logo, there is an instant connection. I think most people see their best selves in athletes. They are people who train year-round to perfect their craft. Countless hours go into the preparations required to play on a professional level.
The unity that sports create is also unlike anything else. When the city of Boston was shaken to its core from the bombings in 2013, the Boston Red Sox brought excitement and celebration back to the city. After Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt raised over $37 million in relief.
I do understand that sports do not make the trauma or issues from these tragic events go away, but they bring hope to a city. They motivate and inspire people to keep on going. That is what makes sports so great.
Talk a little bit about your work for PistonPowered.
Like every other sports fan, I have my opinions and wanted to share them with other fans. When I was in Israel, I saw someone post an opening on Twitter to be a writer for PistonPowered. The fan-ran website covers my hometown Detroit Pistons year-round. They gave me my first chance to write about basketball and the team I love.
Since then, I started writing for a new company called Sports Business Classroom (SBC). With SBC, I have been able to learn more about the deep infrastructure built within the National Basketball Association (NBA). Learning about contracts and the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement has given me a deeper understanding of how the league functions.
Regardless of who I was writing for, I have learned so much throughout the process. No matter what field someone wants to enter, learning how to write in a coherent fashion is important.
And about the work you did for IIFX.
Interning for IIFX was my first real experience in the sports industry. Founded in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience (IIFX) is a company focused on enhancing fan experience for fans on an international level.
For the past year, I have had the opportunity to serve as their analytics coordinator. Within this role, I was given the first chance to apply the data analytics skills I learned at Yeshiva University in the real world. Among my responsibilities: I was in charge of maintaining the company’s contact database so that we can reach our clientele.
During my time with the company, I have been able to learn more about how much work goes into making the simplest events take place. We held two conferences online built to connect the sports world with new technologies that can help enhance the entertainment experience. There are so many things that happen behind closed doors of which fans are unaware that allows for fans to create memories that will last a lifetime. My work with IIFX has given me an appreciation for that.
What led you to apply to Living Sport’s Sports Business Program?
Living Sport creates trips to major sporting events that provide networking and educational opportunities for young professionals passionate about the sports industry. When I heard about the trip to New Orleans for the Men’s NCAA Final Four, I knew I had to apply. I had the chance to meet so many incredible young professionals who, like myself, were interested in working in sports. During my trip, I was able to work on my networking skills and learn about all the different industries within the sports world.
On top of that, I was able to take part in a weeklong celebration of basketball. At first glance, the Men’s NCAA Final Four is just a weekend where the season comes to an end with a national champion being declared. But in reality, it is so much more than that. Fans from around the nation, regardless of their teams, come together to celebrate the incredible sport. Getting to experience that in person is something I will never forget.
My personal highlight was meeting Bruce Pearl, the head coach of the Auburn Tigers men’s basketball program. For those unfamiliar, he is one of the few Jewish head coaches in basketball and had coached the Team USA basketball team at the Maccabiah Games. Getting to meet a fellow Jew who works in sports was an unforgettable moment.
How did the SGC scholarship help you out?
Without the scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity to go to New Orleans and participate in the Living Sports Business Program. Their generosity enabled me to meet all the incredible people that I did. One of the most important aspects of the sports industry is networking. The sports world is very tight knit. Everyone knows each other in one way or another. With the scholarship, I was able to continue to build my network as I begin my transition into the sports industry.
Describe a little bit about what it was like to be an Event Operations Assistant.
As an Event Operation Assistant, I collaborated directly with the NCAA Final Four Host Committee, assisting in multiple aspects of the Men’s Basketball Final Four Weekend. Events like the Final Four, which are over one weekend, rely on volunteers from around the country to function properly. We helped enhance the fan experience at the NCAA Men’s Final Four Fan Festival, creating excitement on the Street Team and serving on the Green Team, encouraging recycling initiatives for the 74,000 spectators attending games inside the Caesars Superdome.
Out of the different locations I was stationed around town over the weekend, the Street Team was my favorite. Right before the Final Four games, I was right outside the Superdome, where the games were being played. Sharing in the excitement and watching fans cheer on their teams reminded me of why sports are so special.
Next stop is University of Michigan for Sports Management. What kinds of career opportunities does that open up for you?
Obtaining a Master of Science in Sport Management from one of the premiere athletics programs in the country will provide me with experiences I would not be able to receive elsewhere. There are so many different paths someone can take in the sports industry. My goal for my time at Michigan is to learn more about how the whole sports industry operates in unison. There is so much I do not know and will need to know in order to succeed in the sports world.
What is the next big sport: curling? hurling? pickleball?
There are two possibilities in my mind: Formula 1 and professional rugby. Both sports have massive followings outside the United States but are starting to infiltrate the market here in different ways. Formula 1 has benefited from getting its on show on Netflix, called Formula 1:Drive to Survive. They are already on the rise, so it may already be considered a “big” sport.
Professional rugby, however, is brand new to America. Their American league, Major League Rugby (MLR), is in its infancy but has already made major strides in the right direction. During my time in New Orleans with Living Sport, I was fortunate enough to hear from Ryan Fitzgerald, the general manager of the NOLA Gold Rugby Team. During his presentation, we were educated on what rugby is and how interesting a sport it is. Watch out for the MLR over the next few years. It may end up on ESPN sometime soon.
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to share some advice with everyone. No matter what field you wish to go into, forget about the conventional path. Find your passion and make that your job. I feel like so many people dread going to work or end up in a position they are not happy with. Working to make your passion your job may be hard, but in the end the hard work will pay off.
I want to share a quote from Michael Jordan, legendary Chicago Bull and one of the greatest athletes of all time: “Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”
We are each capable of so much more than we think. Keep on pushing yourself to get better, one day at a time.