ZAHRA ZAHRAVI/THE VARSITY

The first day of the sixth annual Sports Industry Conference, hosted by the University of Toronto Sports and Business Association (UTSB) and Rotman Sports Business Association (RSBA), will be Friday, February 10.

For the first time, Desautels Hall at the Rotman School of Management is hosting the conference over a period of two days instead of one. Unlike the criticism the NHL has received about franchise expansions, the 2017 Sports Industry Conference does not suffer from talent dilution. 

As the conference approaches, more panelists and speakers are still being announced. Torontonian and international hockey fans alike will be able to mingle with sports industry household names, including keynote speakers Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Michael Rossi, President of Adidas Group Canada.

Panels can be expected to provide experience-based insight from a variety of perspectives within the industry, ranging from league and partner branding to retired athletes or growing amateur sports leagues such as USports.   

Jillian Svensson, Vice-President, Business Operations and Development of You Can Play Project, was a 2016 Sports Industry Conference panelist in the ‘Community and Partnerships’ stream. Svensson says that her panel had “some very senior level executives and you don’t really get to hear that much from people who are behind the scenes.”

In addition, Svensson says the experience exposed her to “a lot of incredibly bright and engaged young professionals. It shows me that the sports business landscape has an exciting future.”

Svensson adds that a major selling point for the conference is leaving with the understanding of “why decisions are made and what it takes to be a leader in the industry, [which] is valuable information for those just starting out in their career.”

While a growing interest in the sports industry is a contributing factor to the conference’s expansion, Svensson remarks that “[Professional] sports is a very transient business and it’s a small industry.” She emphasizes that to stand out in the competitive industry, you need to “volunteer, intern, and find those opportunities that others aren’t hustling for. This will differentiate you.”

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