Author and sports lawyer Kenneth Shropshire to speak on the marketing of the Super Bowl

Published 01-23-2014

Kenneth Shropshire

Sports law specialist Kenneth Shropshire will give a lecture on the marketing of the Super Bowl on Friday, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m. in the Robert W. Woodruff Library’s Jones Room on the Emory University campus. The event, which follows Super Bowl weekend, is free and open to the public.

Shropshire’s lecture, “The Great Sports Spectacle: Marketing the Super Bowl,” is part of Emory’s “Race and Sports in American Culture Series” (RASACS). The annual series explores race and sports in American culture through the lens of history, sociology, politics, medicine, business, marketing and other fields, and seeks to foster interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. It also encourages research on the topic of race and sports through the African Americans in Sports collection held by Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL). The 2013-14 series focuses on professional football.

Pellom McDaniels III, faculty curator of MARBL’s African American collections and Emory assistant professor of African American Studies, and Dana White, Emory emeritus professor of American Studies and MARBL senior faculty curator, are the organizers of RASACS.

While most people are aware of the much discussed commercials during the Super Bowl, they may not be conscious of the subtle marketing done by the Super Bowl itself, McDaniels says.

“The Super Bowl is the biggest marketing vehicle among all professional sports,” he says. “There are many ideas being sold during the Super Bowl, about nationality and patriotism, and race and athleticism, that aren’t as obvious as the commercials that run during the game.”

Shropshire says he will discuss the Super Bowl, the sports business in general, and the role of race in the sports business in particular.

“I’ll talk about the imagery of what’s being marketed and what people take away, and the games as a great equalizer,” Shropshire says. “I’ll also discuss how the Super Bowl is a patriotic, American event, as opposed to the business side, where the real winners are the owners and the NFL.” Shropshire says professional football is an estimated $10 billion a year industry.

A sports law attorney, Shropshire is a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is the author of the 1996 book “In Black and White: Race and Sports in America,” which examines the high ratio of black players on professional sports teams versus the overwhelming high ratio of white owners and managerial staff members of those teams, and the difficulty retiring black players have faced moving into coaching, managing, executive or ownership positions.

Shropshire says diversity has evolved among professional sports’ higher ranks in the nearly 20 years since he wrote “In Black and White,” and he’s working on an updated version of the book. But more progress needs to be made, he says, “not just former players moving into managerial and head coach positions, but other professionals. If you look at the top levels of the NFL and the NBA – the league offices in particular – you don’t see people of color in what I would label the appropriate numbers there.”

The next event in the 2013-14 RASACS lineup is slated for Wednesday, April 9, when Emory University School of Medicine neuroscientist Don Stein will deliver a lecture on concussions titled, “Dying to Compete: Sports, Commerce, and the Future of Brain Injury Research.” Stein is a leading brain injury researcher who has spent the last few years studying the effects of progesterone on traumatic brain injury, with positive results.

The Robert W. Woodruff Library is located at 540 Asbury Circle in Atlanta, 30322. Parking is available in the Fishburne deck.

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