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Knight School of Communication adds sports-focused programs

Sports CommunicationOur major in Sports Communication is growing in popularity.

Charlotte is becoming more and more of a sports town, and demand and opportunity are growing for communicators to tell those stories, from stock car racing to minor league baseball to recreational soccer.

Recognizing the growth and students' strong interest in the sports industry, Queens' Knight School of Communication recently added programs in sports communication for those interested in managing the images of sports groups and athletes.

Sports appeal to communicators because they offer the structure of stories with heroes and villains, said Dr. Leanne Stuart Pupchek, an associate professor of communication at Queens who helped teach its first sports-focused courses.

"Sports are a very important part of American culture," Pupchek said, "and a natural in media."

Many Queens students gravitate toward sports, working internships with local sports organizations or playing sports for the university.  Some want to stay connected to that world after graduation, but may not have the desire or opportunity to play sports professionally.  Entering the field of sports communication can fill that need.

The school offered its inaugural sports-focused program in the fall of 2009, when students could minor in sports communication for the first time. After demand packed that first class with 23 students, faculty decided to add a sports concentration to the major in the fall of 2010. Queens will award its first degrees in the concentration in 2011.

Communication majors concentrating in sports take 14 communication courses: six focused on the world of sports; news writing; sports reporting; sports promotion and publicity; interpersonal relationships in sports; sports ethics, law and media; and sports communication and culture.

Graduates can pursue careers in a number of functions, including public relations, advertising, journalism and as agents, handlers and business managers.  They also are prepared to work for various employers including athletic leagues and sports teams, individual athletes and sports organizations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association and NASCAR.  They may start with amateur or recreational sports and move to opportunities with collegiate or professional employers as they build on their knowledge and skills.

"I think in Charlotte the opportunities in this industry are growing," said Dr. John McArthur, assistant professor of communication who helps teach the sports-focused courses. "It's not just about men's football and men's basketball anymore."

Having sports-specific communication skills will become more valuable, McArthur said, as sports organizations and athletes seek help navigating the increasingly sophisticated and complicated world of communication.

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