Soccer hall-of-famer touts sports’ societal benefits
Hank Steinbrecher: “Sports brings people in to fill stadiums. Sports can also set the pattern for social morality.”
4:01 p.m., May 10, 2007--Sports marketing expert Hank Steinbrecher told UD students May 3 that sports foster national health while providing a wide variety of career opportunities for college graduates with business and sport management majors.

A member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame and secretary general emeritus of the United States Soccer Federation, Steinbrecher made his remarks during a presentation to UD business administration and sport marketing majors.

The talk, “The Globalization of Sport: The World May be Flat But the Ball is Round,” was sponsored by the Center for International Studies, the Lerner College of Business and Economics, the master of business administration program and the sport management major.

Studies have shown that while people have been dropping out of American social organizations, and new members are not joining in social or community-minded efforts as before, sports still retain the power to bring people together at the local and international level, Steinbrecher said.

“Sports brings people in to fill stadiums,” Steinbrecher said. “Sports can also set the pattern for social morality.”

Steinbrecher noted that sports is a $213 billion business, bigger than the American auto industry, and that success in sports management and promotion requires a detailed knowledge of how the “game inside the game” is played.

“Most people think sports is played within the white lines, but the real game lies outside the lines, and you have to understand the industry,” Steinbrecher said. “The business of sports is tough, and the competition is brutal.”

Advantages of such a career include working in an exciting atmosphere where the stakes and the rewards are often high, Steinbrecher said. Disadvantages include poor pay at the outset, inability to meet high levels of expectation, a psychological letdown following the big event, and a business with poor job security and a high turnover rate.

During his career, Steinbrecher organized the FIFA World Cup in 1994. Held in the United States, it was considered the most successful World Cup up to that time. He also organized the women's soccer FIFA World Cup in 1999, and was instrumental in the establishment of major league soccer in the U.S.

Steinbrecher is currently president of Touchline Consulting, which specializes in international sports marketing and management consulting. He uses acquired experience to help third parties with insights on organizational management and product placement through global sports.

Product placement and corporate sponsorship are key components of sport operation or promotion, Steinbrecher said.

“The goal for the corporation is to increase sales through the association of products with sports,” Steinbrecher said. “Without corporate sponsorship, there would be no sports.”

Among the keys to success in this and other areas of sport management are the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise and a willingness to take risks and to avoid getting too comfortable in the same job, he said.

“The beauty of being an American, is that you can fail and still bounce back,” Steinbrecher said. “In the rest of the world, if you fail, you are done.”

Steinbrecher challenged students to make the most of their UD education by using their careers as a means to promote social interaction and moral values through community involvement.

“Sports can be a means for change and can be used to create a new society only if those who play at the highest level use their moral compass,” Steinbrecher said. “As you leave here and enter your profession, you really have a great responsibility. You have to get it right. I call on you to do a better job than my generation did.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Sarah Simon