News & Features

Sporting Fans Blend Passions With Solid Know-How For Winning Career Combinations

posted Jan. 18, 2008

By Anne Heinrich for the St. Louis Sports Magazine

January 2008

Fontbonne University OPTIONS students Joseph Champion, Michael Thomas and Jennifer Duggan profess enough love for the sporting world that they want to pursue careers in the field.

They don't expect to be professional athletes, but these sports enthusiasts want to be qualified to take on endless other possibilities in the sports and entertainment industries.

All three have turned to the Bachelor of Science in Sports and Entertainment Management (BSEM) degree program to get the education they need.

Fontbonne OPTIONS BSEM provides a broad-based business foundation with special emphasis on sports and entertainment topics and issues.

"Sports can take you in so many directions," says Thomas, a personal trainer who will turn 30 in 2008, the same year he'll graduate. "I've always wanted to go back to school and when I found this program, I figured it was now or never."

Thomas is married and has one young son. OPTIONS adult-friendly design is a perfect fit for someone as busy as he is. He played basketball in high school and then for two years in college. He'd like to coach young people in the same sport that had such a positive impact on him as a youngster.

"Playing basketball taught me a lot about competition and life. Sports are really about being on a team, about being part of a bigger picture. There are so many avenues you can take besides being an athlete," says Thomas.

Thomas and others in the program are learning that passion for sports and entertainment isn't enough, especially when it comes to management. They're developing critical thinking, communication and management skills which are transferable to any industry. And, they're focusing on key topics including event development, legal and ethical issues, diversity, venue management and service marketing.

Classes are taught by professionals in the field, who navigate the complicated terrain of the sports and entertainment worlds.

"OPTIONS BSEM has been really eye-opening," says student Jennifer Duggan. "It's great to learn from people who are really working in the industry. For me, seeing how the job that I already do overlaps into the field has been interesting."

Duggan, who's about halfway through the 19-month program, works full-time as a restaurant manager and has found herself drawn to the catering and event planning aspects. Upon completion of her degree, she hopes to combine her love for sports with events planning at the corporate level.

OPTIONS student Joe Champion wants to go in a different direction. He started in the OPTIONS Gateway to build the foundation for his bachelor's degree and transitioned into the BSEM program. He works in retail management, but hopes to be an athletic director or administrator, preferably at the high school level.

"I've always loved sports," he says. "And this degree would prepare me to manage effectively. I've come away with so much new knowledge already. And I like OPTIONS' accelerated pace. If you apply yourself in this program, you'll come away knowing your stuff."

As with all of the Fontbonne University OPTIONS programs, BSEM is designed for busy adults. Students value the convenience of registering once for their program and attending class on the same night each week. Study teams enhance the learning process. OPTIONS offers four other bachelor degree programs, two master's degrees, and five locations to choose from including the convenient Clayton campus. For more information, call 314-863-2220 or visit

With permission, copyright (2008), St. Louis Sports Magazine