press box photo

With everything from mock press releases to a fantasy football draft, the scope of John Collett's student media course is immense. 

Sports media is being offered as a course for the first time ever at Gonzaga this semester, but it will continue to be held consistently in subsequent fall and spring semesters as long as an adequate enrollment number is held.

The new class combines both journalism and public relations perspectives to give students a better understanding of the connection between sports and media. Students will also learn the necessary skills for sports writing from this class.

“My goal with the course is a few things, one of which is for our students to gain a better understanding of the relationship between sports and media and how they are very much connected,” said John Collett, who teaches the sports media class and is the director of public relations for the Spokane Indians, Spokane’s Minor League Baseball team.

. “It would be really hard to be a sports fan today at least with most professional college teams if there wasn’t some role by the media.”

Sports media is an updated version of a class the integrated media department used to teach and used to be more closely connected to the broadcast department, said Susan English, associate professor and chair of the integrated media department. 

There had been some discussion with the sports management department about a sports public relations class, because some of the students wanted to pursue a career in sports media.

The sports media class came to be after English approached Collett about the class.

“The stars lined up for us last year when John Collett joined our faculty full time,” English said.

Collett worked as a broadcaster at KHQ, where he did everything from anchoring to creating sports news packages. English said Collett was exactly the right fit to teach the class since he had all of the skills necessary to combine a variety of sports media topics into a single class.

Collett said the sports media class is a great opportunity for students to engage in a dialogue, since both journalism and public relations majors are enrolled in the class. He also said a lot of the learning in the class will be done through the projects students will complete.

Students will work on projects such as creating a preview story, live tweeting a game and writing a post-game story. 

They will also get to participate in fantasy football and create social media posts about their fantasy football choices and results.

“Another one of my goals for the course is at the end of it, I hope those who want to work in sports are affirmed that this is definitely a career path that [they] would like to do and those who are kind of on the fence have a better sense of what it’s like to work in the industry,” Collett said.

This semester’s class filled up quickly and has a long waiting list as well. English said the department is working to make it a permanent part of the curriculum as an upper division elective, and as expected, it is hugely popular.

“This meets all of our high expectations of a brand-new course,” English said.

Collett said another aspect of the class that will be beneficial for students is the guest speakers.

“One of my goals is to bring in a bunch of different perspectives,” Collett said.

Students in the sports media class will get to hear from a sports journalist who is a beat writer, some of the sports information directors for GU and the videographer for the NFL team the Carolina Panthers. Collett also mentioned how many professional sports teams have their own newsroom. This creates more opportunities for journalism and public relations jobs and is another piece of the conversation about sports media and careers in sports.

“I want to encourage our students who want to work in sports to really have a good foundation to go out and get a job in four years,” Collett said.

English also said students in the sports media class will learn all the necessary skills of media creators—­how to recognize what makes a good sports story, how to write feature stories, and how to determine what people want to hear about in the world of sports.

“They will absolutely learn how to do sports from both a PR viewpoint and a journalistic viewpoint,” English said

Lillian Piel is a staff writer.

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