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Herriman Journal

Learning gets real in Real Academy’s sports business classes

May 20, 2021 09:53AM ● By Jet Burnham

A game schedule poster, created by students, is an example of the real-world learning opportunities Nick Bartlett provides in his sports business class. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Bartlett.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

The Sports Business program at Real Salt Lake Academy High School is exploding with real-world learning opportunities for students, like designing a new school logo to be featured on school athletic apparel.

“[The teacher] gave us the colors and the picture that he wanted us to use, but he did give us quite a bit of free range to do what we wanted with it,” ninth grader Maci Nell said. “Everybody in the class worked on our own, and then we came together and decided on one final logo. It was actually really fun. It just made me feel really good that I was able to contribute something to the school.”

Maci enjoys the assignments that have a real purpose—like designing fliers for school activities—and “not just random things that we made on the computer.”

Nicholas Bartlett, coordinator of the sports business program at RSLAHS, believes real world learning is best. He creates learning experiences for students based on his 10 years of collegiate athletics sports marketing experience.

In addition to designing the logo, his students have held sports photoshoots, designed game schedule posters and handled the school’s social media graphics and videos.

“When we can give kids the opportunity to take over social media and make graphics that they can see on the school social media sites, it just hits another level in education,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett also regularly uses the real world as his classroom. A recent marketing class took place at a gas station.

“We actually went to the gas station and talked to the manager about what kinds of things he's selling, what things make money and what things are just there to attract people to come in,” sophomore Jonah Nuetzel said.

Next, the class will be going to the Real stadium to see firsthand how things operate on game days.

“Being able to go in and see in person what they do, and not just hearing about it or reading out of a textbook, it makes a really big difference,” Jonah said.

Sports business is one of the school’s most popular academic tracks, and RSLAHS Athletic Director Becky Hogan said Bartlett’s classes fill up fast. 

“He is one of the most super-talented, engaging, dynamic, young teachers that we have at our school,” Hogan said. “He's going to absolutely explode our academic side—that sports business track is going to become so incredible. Those kids will walk out of there and walk right into a professional atmosphere and be firing on all cylinders.”

Bartlett is working to make the program more robust in the coming years, creating even more opportunities for students to have hands-on learning.

Next year, all the school’s games will be live-streamed, and sports broadcasting students will provide the play-by-play and color commentary. Bartlett plans to involve students in social media and branding, sports health, athletic training, media relations and marketing on social media and radio.

“From top to bottom, we're going to give them different opportunities to really get involved,” Bartlett said.

Opportunities will also include internships with RSL and the Utah Jazz.

“In his short time here, Nick has made good inroads with RSL to facilitate opportunities for those kids in the sports business track to go internship with RSL and work on actual projects with the RSL professional arm of things,” Hogan said.

Health and safety restrictions this year have limited these types of opportunities, but some students will get a chance to work with RSL on some community service projects this month.

“I think that's going to teach these kids some things that they won't learn just by sitting in a classroom,” Bartlett said. “It’s real-world life application to the things that we are talking about in the classroom.”

Bartlett said the two to four years of experience students can get at RSLAHS will give them a head start on a career in collegiate and professional sports.

“If you want to break into the sports administration world at an early age and really learn some key skills that are going to help you get a job in sports, at any level, this is the place to do it,” he said. “I don't think many schools in the country are offering this type of pathway or curriculum. And I think that's what makes RSL Academy just a really great school and a really unique place to be.”

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