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Deakin Professor becomes first Australian to win prestigious North American sport management award

8 February 2011

Australia's first professor in the field of sport management, Deakin University's Professor David Shilbury, will become the first Australian to receive the North American Society for Sport Management's (NASSM) prestigious 2011 Earle F. Zeigler award later this year.

Professor Shilbury, a former AFL Tribunal member, is the 22nd Zeigler award winner and significantly, is the first non-North American scholar to be honoured as the award recipient.

The Earle F. Zeigler award recognises significant contributions to the field of sport management in terms of scholarship, research, leadership, and peer recognition of individual contributions. The annual winner must reflect those qualities demonstrated by Dr Zeigler in the areas of student growth and development, leadership, service, scholarship and collegiality.

Professor Shilbury said he was honoured to win the prestigious award.

"My recognition as the first non-North American scholar to win the award is especially pleasing as it demonstrates the excellent research and educational programs accessible in Australia," he said.

"It also reinforces and is consistent with the excellent standing of Australian sport on the world stage."

Professor Shilbury was appointed as the Foundation Professor of Sport Management in the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University in 2000 – an appointment which made him Australia's first professor in the field of sport management.

Professor Shilbury was responsible for the introduction and establishment of the first business based programs in sport management in Australia and was Head of Deakin University's School of Management and Marketing from 2002-2007.

"After 21 years of sport management at Deakin University, the sport industry has changed dramatically," he said.

"Working as an academic promoting best practice sport management is critical, given the central role sport plays in the community providing an outlet for physical activity, social interaction, community bonding and generally a healthy attitude to life," he said.

"It is also gratifying to see how our athletes perform so well on the international stage.

"There is no doubt that the programs and services offered by sporting organisations are far more sophisticated than was the case 21 years ago."

Professor Shilbury said more than 1000 graduates have completed sport management degrees in the last 21 years and many are working in senior executive positions throughout the industry.

"This is critical as an increased business focus and flow of revenues in the sector from the government, broadcasting and sponsorship, more than ever, has heightened the tension between the spirit and integrity of sport and commercial outcomes." Professor Shilbury noted.

"Skilled graduates and critical thinkers are required to address a range of complex issues including gambling, match-fixing, athlete sexual behaviour, alcohol use, post athlete career planning, intellectual property rights of athletes, and the use of social media."

Professor Shilbury said the sports employment market was very different in the early 1990s compared to now.

"For example, in the early 1990s there was no Gold Coast Football Club, no Melbourne Victory or Melbourne Heart, no Melbourne Rebels, no Melbourne Storm, no Stadium Australia, no Etihad Stadium, no AAMI Park," he said.

"The AFL, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia employed fewer staff, now they have at least tripled in staff size."

Professor Shilbury said entertainment was an important factor in the industry, a factor which added to the tension between commercial influences and the traditional characteristics of sport.

"What has not changed, is the tension between how much money is directed to elite sport compared to mass participation programs," he said.

"More revenues have allowed sports to do more, but the balance is still fiercely debated.

"Many of our graduates have contributed to new approaches to what is now the business of sport, and that for me is what makes it all worth getting up in the morning to do more to develop sport."

The Zeigler award will be officially presented at the 26th annual NASSM conference to be held at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada from 1-4 June, 2011.

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News facts
  • Australian wins prestigious 2011 Earle F. Zeigler award
  • First non-North American scholar to be honoured as the award recipient
  • Skilled graduates and critical thinkers are required to address a range of complex issues including gambling, match-fixing, athlete sexual behaviour, alcohol use, post athlete career planning, intellectual property rights of athletes, and the use of social media

Media contact

Sandra Kingston
Deakin Media Relations
0422 005 485
sandra.kingston@deakin.edu.au

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9th February 2011