In April half term, Yvonne Ivanov (1st year BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science with Sport Management student), had the opportunity to participate in a virtual international sports management project with a student from the University of Dayton, Ohio. The collaboration involved investigating a sports management topic of their choice and presenting their analysis back to the class. Yvonne and her partner conducted a comparative examination on the media coverage of UK and US women’s sports, focusing on the current situation with media coverage, the impact created by women’s sports, female athletes as role models and the challenges they face, barriers to participation, and what has been done by sports organisations, governing bodies, or those in sports management, to overcome them. As Yvonne explains,
“This project was a very valuable and educational experience as it allowed us to expand our knowledge of the global sports industry which we can later apply to our studies. My project partner and I both felt that we had learnt a lot from each other through our personal discussions about the similarities and differences between sport in the US and the UK. Initially, it was a little difficult to work with the time difference since we both hadn’t previously worked on a project with someone new from abroad and the 4h time difference was a bit of a challenge for both of us. However, we discussed our university schedules and improved our communication, which allowed us to organise ourselves better and proved that a 4h time difference was not as significant as we had thought when it comes to working on a collaborative project.”
Beyond the academic exercise, the project was developed to also enhance students’ professional and personal skills. In particular, by enabling cross-cultural knowledge exchange, broadening global awareness and understanding, and confidence in communicating ideas. Yvonne writes that,
‘Both of us got to know each other and began introducing our ideas more openly and found out that our plans for the presentation were very similar. It really helped that we texted frequently to ensure we were both on the same page. Before the presentation, we called over WhatsApp to discuss how we would present it, what we wanted to say that we hadn’t included in the slides and how we could highlight the comparison.’
The presentation, Yvonne reported, was a success and they both presented confidently, adding comparative points to each other’s analysis. Students also had the opportunity to reflect on the overall experience and receive further feedback by the project coordinator, Dr Haozhou Pu. The feedback enabled Yvonne and her partner to consider their analytical and research approach, the challenges, and opportunities for further work, and what aspects they enjoyed the most. Reflecting on the exchange, Yvonne notes positively,
“This online collaboration enabled me to improve my networks, gain valuable international learning experience, learn to work across different time zones and overcome issues relating to that as well as meet a lovely friend with whom I keep in touch with!”
Currently this is the first iteration of the international project, but it is envisaged that the experience will be developed further and more Sport Management students will be able to engage with the opportunity during their studies.