Let’s take a short trip down memory lane. Think back to the last conference or job fair you attended. Don’t just think about the people you met. Think about what you wore, the lines you stood in and the food you ate.

job fair cartoonIf you’re anything like me, chances are you just thought about how uncomfortable your outfit was, the time you waited in a long line to spend five hurried minutes speaking with a sports professional and the considerable lack of food for the 100+ attendees.

Chances are, this is what every conference or job fair you’ve ever attended was like. As aspiring sports business professionals, we’ve grown accustomed to overcrowded job fairs and speed-dating style interviews. We’ve all done the mad dash to the booth of the most prominent team after the welcome address to get first impression points. I’ve always wondered why 99.9% of sports business conferences and job fairs are held in university lectures halls and conference center ballrooms. My assumption, it’s the easiest, most efficient way to mix and mingle 100+ recent grads and undergraduates with current sports professionals.

Easy and efficient may be ideal for job fillers and conference speakers, but what about the job seekers and conference attendees? Now, think outside the box with me for a moment. Think outside of the crowded auditoriums, long lines and rushed meetings. What if there were a way for job fairs to be more relaxed? For conferences to be more about sharing ideas and networking than shaking hands and handing out business cards?

summit founders
Left-right: Summit’s Jeremy Schwartz, Jeff Rosenthal, Elliott Bisnow and Brett Leve

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to Summit Series, a now 7-year old startup company founded by five young entrepreneurs. Elliot Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal, Jeremy Schwartz and Ryan Begelman began gaining notoriety for hosting annual, weekend-long conferences in exotic locations. In 2011, Summit took over a cruise ship headed for the Bahamas and in 2012 invaded Squaw Valley, California. The 2010 Summit Series featured an appearance by former President, Bill Clinton and the Summit at Sea weekend featured nightly performances by The Roots.

When I first heard of the series in the October 2013 issue of Wired Magazine, Summit had just purchased Powder Mountain to serve as its company’s headquarters. Like most conferences, Summit’s events take place over an entire weekend to give those hoping to network ample time to mingle. The key difference that separates Summit Series from every other conference, attendees are looking for more than just jobs, they are looking to create a culture of innovation and to share ideas.

I’m not naive, I realize that you need more than an idea to make a living. Ideas don’t pay the rent or buy food. People need jobs, I know. Just keep thinking outside the box with me for a moment longer.What if something like Summit Series were to pop-up for sports business professionals? Granted, it would certainly cost more than the standard $30 student rate, but then again, none of those conferences or job fairs included an appearance by Bill Clinton or nightly performances by The Roots.

Standing in long lines and following around conference speakers with your resume and business card in hand is not fun. I always doubted that I stood out from the other 20 people in line behind me. Yes, I have attended a job fair with the hopes of landing a job shortly thereafter. However, I’ve recently caught myself looking for conferences and happy hours just to interact with like-minded individuals. However, the million dollar question here is, do other people do the same? Would current sports business professionals be interested in attending a sports summit? Would YOU be interested in attending a sports summit?

At this point, I merely would like to create a discussion on the topic. A discussion on the possibility of creating a new approach to the way we do conferences , job fairs and networking.If you’d like to continue this discussion or tell me how completely ridicules I’m being, feel free to email me at rookierundown@gmail.com. 

-Rookie Specialist