Adding Rigor to the Sport Management Internship: Introduction

By Cuneen, Jacquelyn | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Adding Rigor to the Sport Management Internship: Introduction


Cuneen, Jacquelyn, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


The internship is an essential element in the professional preparation of sport managers (Cuneen, 1992; Cuneen & Sidwell, 1993b; Mason, Higgins, & Wilkinson, 1981; Stiex, 2002). The internship is, in fact, the most common curricular component of both proposed and established sport management programs (Bell & Countiss, 1993; Cuneen, 1992; Cuneen & Sidwell, 1993a, 1993b, 1998; DeSensi, Kelley, Blanton, & Beitel, 1990; Parkhouse, 1984, 1987; Stier, 2002). However, while internships are often mandatory, there are various opinions on the purposes and goals of the internship experience (Verner, 1993).

The major cohorts in academe (i.e., administrators, faculty, students) and industry (i.e., management, employees) have differing expectations of what the interns' responsibilities should be, as well as about the intensity and extent of their field experiences. It is important to determine the criteria that constitute "best practices" for sport management internships since all of the above cohorts have a valid stake in the field experience. For instance, academe wants the internships to be academically rigorous, faculty members would like their students to select prestigious organizations at which to complete their internships, administrators desire consistent standards and practices among all interns in their programs, and students want their internships to offer them meaningful opportunities for learning and advancement. At the same time, industry hopes that its interns will make solid contributions to, and become a good fit within, an organization (Cuneen & Sidwell, 1994).

While many programs require structured internships with close faculty supervision offered to students in the planning, completion, and evaluation stages, other programs treat the internship as an independent study and place most of the onus for experiential learning on the student. It would greatly benefit sport management education if every program regarded the field experience as a legitimate course and provided close faculty supervision. When a sport management program sponsors a nonacademic and unchallenging internship course, it adversely affects the work and reputation of those institutions that place a great deal of emphasis on monitoring the learning that occurs as students make the transition from academe to industry.

Best Practices

Many internship programs falter because faculty members consider field experiences as supplements to the real curriculum (The Teaching Professor, 1999). However, internships enable students to increase their knowledge, to gain numerous skills (Stier, 1999), and to test and display their new abilities immediately. In other words, internships allow students to understand old concepts in new aim more meaningful ways and to become aware of new concepts when they (1) learn new material, (2) apply class content to real settings, and (3) take advantage of opportunities to compose new and original projects (The Teaching Professor, 1999).

In order to assist in the design and delivery of sport management internship programs, JOPERD is offering this two-part feature, which examines the classroom-to-worksite phenomenon from six different perspectives in order to advocate the "best practices" to satisfy all cohorts associated with the internship process. Students seeking information about soundly structured internship programs will also find the series useful, as will parents who wish to learn about the significance of sport management internships in their children's college education. Sport management faculty seeking departmental resources may also use this feature to convince midlevel administrators of the importance of supervised internships.

It is important to address sport management internship practices at this time for three fundamental reasons:

1. Sport management programs continue to proliferate as departments, schools, and colleges of kinesiology add this attractive major This feature will help those developing programs justify the presence of a supervised internship requirement in their new curricula. …

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