Every year since 2009, Sports MBA students have spent approximately ten days as a group on site in the Dominican Republic. This trip is one of the most memorable experiences of the year for Sports MBA students. The excursion is tied to an academic course in Management and is led by program director, Scott Minto (SMBA ’06). The concept of the trip is to develop students’ global competencies through a complete cultural and language immersion in a developing country. The class prepares extensively for the trip, reading books about Dominican baseball and culture and studying Spanish.
Many MBA programs take class trips to major global markets, whether it’s a week in Asia, a trip to London, or a few days in New York City. At SDSU, we’ve made a conscious decision to travel each year to the Dominican Republic because it offers such a unique combination of elements beneficial to graduate sports business students. From an academic standpoint, it’s a fascinating case study in sports business. We explore the business of baseball in the country from its beginnings on ragged, rural fields through the signing and development of prospects who aspire to one day make millions as the next Dominican superstar. We explore the processes and regulations set by the Dominican government and Major League Baseball, we interview MLB executives, tour team facilities and learn how different clubs operate in the country, and collaborate with NGOs to see how they are using baseball as leverage to make a positive impact on the community.
Many students have never before been in that kind of environment of extreme poverty, or been out of their comfort zone to such an extent. In the absence of cell phones for over a week, students forge lifelong bonds working alongside their classmates on development projects to benefit children of the impoverished community adjacent to shiny MLB academies.
Students will spend a day playing pickup baseball with kids who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of signing an MLB contract at age 16, and later that evening, the class will discuss the details of these contracts and the impact they have on community priorities.
The students study everything through an MBA lens, meaning all community projects are meant to be sustainable in nature, all interactions with executives are opportunities to learn about leadership in a global sports organization, and all interactions with MLB prospects develop an understanding of global human resource challenges.
Whether students pursue careers in baseball or not, the annual Dominican Republic excursion makes them better managers, and prepares them for success in the increasingly global environment facing contemporary sports business executives.