Twenty-eight heads turned at the sound of the announcement that crackled through the airport speakers: “United Airlines Flight 28 to London Heathrow is now boarding.” With that, everyone in the group immediately collected their carry-on luggage and took a place to in line for boarding. These travelers – mostly students – were excited. They were on their way to London.
Dr. Margaret O’Reilly-Allen, chair of the Accounting department, and Dr. Ira Sprotzer, chair of the Business Law and Marketing department, led the group of 26 Rider students on the College of Business Administration’s Business of Sports study tour to London during spring break in March. The British capital had recently hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, providing the ideal environment to study the relationship between athletics and business. O’Reilly-Allen and Sprotzer have led the Business of Sports study tours for the past seven years.
“The study tour focused on the behind-the- scenes business issues and challenges that London faced to host the Olympic Games,” O’Reilly-Allen explained. “Students learned firsthand about the bidding process, planning the infrastructure for the games, marketing and management, budgeting and financing the games, and dealing with athletes from diverse cultures.”
Students toured such famed sports venues as the Olympic Park, Wimbledon, Wembley Stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground, and the Silverstone Circuit auto-racing complex. The itinerary also included a stop at Oxford University, training site of the United Kingdom’s Olympic rowing team, where the group learning about intercollegiate sports in the U.K.
During the evenings, students had the opportunity to experience the culture of the historic-yet-contemporary city of London. And though the weather offered the city’s fabled, dreary dampness, students were undeterred, visiting the British Museum, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye Ferris wheel, and of course, the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
For most of the travelers, this was their first trip abroad to Europe, and it made quite an impression.
“Without a doubt, the most interesting and educational experience of my college career,” said Ryan Gilligan MAcc ’13. “I had the opportunity to experience a new culture, learn about London’s rich history, and see how the 2012 Summer Olympics impacted the nation’s economy. Everyone should take the opportunity to travel and study abroad before other obligations make it more difficult to travel. The beautiful thing about this trip is that no one can take it away from me and I now have memories that will last a lifetime.”
Finance major Laura Albright ‘13 agreed with Gilligan. “Traveling abroad to London was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was so interesting to see the differences in culture as well as the different venues that hold such popular and important sporting events.”
There was time for students to broaden their cultural horizons through the arts, as well, experiencing the “London Broadway” when they went to see a production of Billy Elliot at Victoria Palace Theater in west London.
“Musicals are a favorite pastime of mine, so the opportunity to see Billy Elliot in London was irresistible,” said Iram Khan, ’12 MAcc ’13. “The acting was excellent—I can’t wait to go back and see another play.”
With academic, cultural, international and athletic components to the trip, there was something for everyone.
“Because of my interest in sports, the Business of Sports-focus of this study tour was interesting, educating, and overall, a great experience,” said Kevin Bordner ’13, an Accounting major.