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Example Course Syllabus

for Sports Business and Finance 101

Below you'll find the following information:

    Course Name, Number, and Prerequisites

    Course Name & Number: Baseball Dynamics 101
    Prerequisites: Basic Economics, Basic Business, computer and Internet browser use, interest in sports business and operations

  • Course Description

    This class is designed to introduce you to the basic macro operation of a baseball organization. It's developed to be used in sports management , sports adminstration, business administration, and sports economics courses and programs.

    You should have some very basic understanding of using computers and web-based applications (in other words, you know a link when you see one). You should also have access to a computer with Internet access. Beyond those basics, what ultimately separates the best players of the simulation from the worst, is a desire to try different rounds of simulation play, with reading about the results and review of the sims classroom section after each run.

  • Course Objectives

    Sports Business and Finance 101, using the Oakland Baseball Simworld Sports Business and Finance Lesson will cause you to think about how to run a baseball team from a macro business perspective. What should occur over time is the evolution of a basic understanding of Sports Business and Finance, and more specifically, the relationship between managerial decisions and organizational outcomes. While baseball and the Oakland Athletics is the foundation of the simulation, what is learned has applications in many aspects of business, regardless of industry.

  • Course Teaching Schedule

    The course is divided into five weekly phases of instruction. (As instructor, you can use this model or change it to meet your needs.)

    Week One: Introduction to The Sports Industry This is an overview lecture of what the sports industry is and how it has grown since 1960. It includes the growth of the National Football League and Major League Baseball, primarily, other leagues secondarily, and the impact of the television industry over this time on growth in attendance, TV contract revenues, and player salaries. Finally, it includes a look at sports sponsorship and its role in the sports industry over this time period. Students should read "Sports, Inc.: 100 Years of Sports Business," by Phil Schaaf -- a well-written book spaning the growth of the industry, and "The Business of Sports" By Scott Rosner and Kenneth Shropshire: a great overview of the major issues in the business of sports.

    Week Two: How A Common Sports Team Works. This is a simple, nuts-and-bolts explanation of what sports teams do, and how they do it. Designed to give the student a common understanding of macro sports team operations. Each sports team, regardless of sport, has the following in common: players, the need to pay those players, materials to play the game, a stadium or arena to play it in, tickets to sell, and fans to be convinced to buy those tickets to see the team play. Television coverage is desirable, but not always available. Sports sponsorship is a major component as well. Here, students should read another Phil Schaaf book: "Sports Marketing: It's Not Just a Game Anymore."

    The materials will present how owners start sports teams, how money is raised, and basic concerns of player salaries, ticket prices, team facility construction and operations costs, stadium and arena construction and operations costs, travel costs to play oppponents, stadium advertising revenue, corporate sponsorship deals, merchandise availablity and sales, revenue from television and radio deals, revenue from Internet operations, civic and political issues surrounding stadium leases, police and security costs (where necessary), and stadium day-of-game costs.

    This portion of the course is designed to cause the student to appreciate the components of the sports organization and how they fit together, to offer one example, how marketing effects day-of-game attendance. It's recommended that the instructor direct the students to use SBS' XFL Simworld as part of this effort. It's a simple simulation designed to teach these dynamic relationships on a league level. The instructor will also have other readings that may not be included here or in "Required Course Materials" below.

    Week Three: Sports Business and Finance - Week One: System Dynamics and Scenario Planning This week's readings and lectures are designed to introduce the student to the art and science of systems thinking, system dynamics, and scenario planning. It will call for the reading of three books: "Systems Thinking: From Concepts to Causal Loops," by Virginia Anderson, "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization," by Peter Senge, as well as "The Art of the Long View," by Peter Schwartz

    Week Four: Sports Business and Finance - Week Two: Attendance and Won Loss Records This is a review of an obvious but important connection: won/loss records and attendance. This week, you will review literature that shows the connection between winning and attendance. We will then explore the relationship between player salaries and won/loss records, and a another connection between team market size and winning. For this, students are instructed to read The Journal of Sports Economics analysis of Major League Baseball's Blue Ribbon Panel Report, with a click here, you can download it.

    Week Five: Sports Business and Finance - Week Three: Revenue and Expenses of the Baseball Organzation This picks up where we left off last week, by introducing the matter of how baseball organizations make money, and what it's used for. The coverage of revenue is then related to won/loss records and attendance. This week, students will review literature that shows the connection between revenues, expenditures and winning and attendance (from last week). The instructor will then explore the relationship between revenue, attendance, expenditures, and won/loss records, and further discuss the connection between team market size and winning. For this, students are instructed to read "Baseball and Billions" by Andrew Zimbalist, "The Money Pitch" by Robert I. Abrams, and "Pay Dirt" by Rod Fort.

    Week Six: Sports Business and Finance - Week Four: The Oakland Baseball Simworld Part 1 Here, students are released to use the Oakland Baseball Simworld. By this time, each student should have a username / password combination. This week is devoted to introduction of the simulation in the lecture, and your play of the simulation on the computer. This is to familarize students with the simulation. Next week student's posted scores count against their grade. To better understand the unique organization that is the Oakland Athletics, students should read "MoneyBall" by Michael Lewis.

    Week Seven: Sports Business and Finance - Week Five: The Oakland Baseball Simworld Part 2 Here, student's scores from the Oakland Baseball Simworld count against their grade. Also, students are asked to start outlining a paper where they serve as consultants to the Oakland Athletics, developing a 15 year managerial business plan. This paper will establish what kind of business structure the organization should adopt (high payroll, high player development spending, etc.), explain the justification for that, forecast changes in the business of baseball, and explain under what conditions the chosen business model should be altered and why. The paper will be due at the end of next week. It's recommended that students work in teams to write the paper.

    Week Eight: Sports Business and Finance - Week Six: Baseball Consultant Paper Due at Week's End The student's final grade is a weight of perfomance on the simulation and the overall grade of the paper, the test on "Sports Business and Finance" described below, and other assignments or mid-term tests the instructor may include.

  • Course Meeting Times

    Students can use the simulations on the computer at any time day or night, provided they have access to a computer. There are occasional server shutdowns for maintenance, but not often and generally at hours of low or no use traffic. The individual professor will set the class times that incorporate the use of the contents of this course.

  • Course Requirements

    First students need to have access to a computer with an internet connection of some kind, but broadband is highly recommended. If students don't, make sure the college or university has a library with computers connected to the Internet. Beyond that, the computer should have ideally the latest browser available, like FireFox, Apple Safari or the Opera Browser.

    The oldest browser students can use is Netscape 4.7. But if students can convince the college or university's computer managers to upgrade to the latest browers, it will make the learning experience better.

    Also make sure that there is sufficient memory available in the computer. At least 128 M of RAM is best at the least.

  • Required Course Materials

    Book Resources - SBS recommends the following books for the class, and to be used in conjunction with the simulation:

    • "Pay Dirt" - By Professor Rod Fort: A Book on The Economics of The Sports Franchise
    • "May The Best Team Win" - By Professor Andrew Zimbalist: A book on baseball franchise operations. More of a critique than a "how-to"
    • "The Fifth Discpline" - By Peter Senge: A book which is a primer for systems thinking, and essential for the proper use of the sim in a class
    • "The Art of The Long View" - By Peter Schwartz: This book presents the art of scenario planning. It also a great companion to The Fifth Discpline, in that it opens you to the idea of thinking about long-term outcomes of short term decisions. The very focus of the Oakland Baseball Simworld.
    • "Taking on The Yankees: Winning and Losing In The Business of Baseball, 1903 to 2003" - By Henry Fetter: This book gives a great "who said what to whom" view of the business of the NY Yankees. It's perfect as an economic history, and you will find situations in this book actually played out in the sim.
    • "MoneyBall" - By Michael Lewis: This now famous book presents the unique player development strategy and poltics of the Oakland Athletics. This book provides a personal, eye-level view of the player development aspect of a successful organization.
    • "Sports Business Journal" - By Street & Smith: Considered the "sports business bible" by some, this weekly publication gives an in-depth presentation of sports industry news and issues.

  • Website Resources - SBS recommends the following

    Collective Bargaining Agreement for Fans:

    This web site was developed by two students of the Sport Management Program at the University of San Francisco. It's a well-designed and easy-to-access site that offers the history of labor negotiations and collective bargaining agreements in Major League Baseball.

    Sports Business Journal:

    A valuable and widely-read resource of weekly information on breaking business news in the sports industry. Considered the weekly sports business "bible."

    The Official Web Site of the Oakland Athletics:

    The Internet home of the organization that is the basis for our Oakland Baseball Simworld.

    The Oakland Athletics provide a great platform for the study of how various business models can impact the performance (on and off the field) of a baseball organization. The Athletics are generally regarded as the best example of the "efficient baseball organization" obtaining optimum performance with far less revenue compared to many of its competitor firms.

    Subject: Stadium Financing

    This is a controversial area of study.

    SBS presentation of information is concentrated on that which provides a guide for stadium financing strategies. As a rule, politically-motivated papers and web sites are not included here for presentation.

    The rationale is that what the student can learn is clouded by politically-biased reporting either for stadiums or against stadiums; thus the focus should be on studies that are not politically-motivated.

    With that, here's the list, we will expand it as time progresses:


    2. The Michigan Stadium Story

    3. Seattle Seahawks Stadium Costs

    4. The Evolution of Miller Park

    5. Pittsburgh Steelers Sell Bonds To Build New Stadium

    6. Office of The Controller City of Philadelphia: Stadium Myths and Realities

    7. Harris County Stadium Legal Documents. (These are the core legal papers forming the deal to build what is now called Reliant Stadium, and serves as the home of the NFL expansion Houston Texans. These documents are required reading).

    Other Stadium Financing Links and Articles

    1. PNC Park Negotiations

    2. Should the City Fund New Stadiums for the Eagles and the Phillies? (Great background, although the question has been answered.)

    3. State of Minnesota: Stadium Discussion Points

    Stadium Authority Links and Articles


    2. Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority

    3.Norwich Stadium Authority faces another deficit - Local News

    4. Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

    5. Washington State Public Stadium Authority

    6. Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District

    7. New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority (NJSEA)

    8. (Minneapolis) Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission

    9. Illinois Sports Facilities Authority

    10. Tampa Sports Authority

    11. (Denver) Metropolitan Football Stadium District

    12. Georgia World Congress Center Authority

    Stadium web sites

    Lincoln Financial Stadium
    The new home of the Philadelphia Eagles

  • E-mail accounts for all students - should be provided by your university. Student Oakland Baseball Simworld account username and password will be sent to your e-mail address.
  • Specific software (how many copies?) - The Oakland Baseball Simworld's software is Internet-based at You don't need a disk of any kind.
  • Specific hardware (what kind? How many?) - Students will each have their own accounts, but there's no need to worry about using separate computers. If resources are tight, students can use one computer, and each person logs on to their account at different times. Or professors can have students work in teams with one account per team.
  • In closing this section, if you know of baseball organizations officials to invite to your class, it will certainly enhance their learning experience.

    Student Evaluation

    How the student grade comes out overall is a combination of the simulation performance runs the second time, and the final exam score. Students can run the simulation as much as theey want. The professor is to take the top four scores and average them, then combine that score with performance on the test.











    Simulation Scoring


    Score of 50-100 points
    Score of 100-150 points
    Score of 150 - 175 points
    Score of 175 - 200 points
    Grade A


    Grade on Sports Business and Finance Test



    25 Percent Correct on Test
    50 Percent Correct on Test
    75 Percent Correct on Test
    100 Percent Correct on Test
    Grade A


    Optional Written Paper: "Management Consultant Report to Team President"



    Only basic short paper describing what the president should consider as the team moves into the future.
    Paper describing alternative business approaches and how they work.
    Paper that presents several scenarios based on simulation runs, and a matrix of decisions that should be made to insure a profitable future
    Paper that presents several scenarios based on simulation runs, and a matrix of decisions that should be made to insure a profitable future, and covers new stadium financing and team relocation options

    Creative Commons License
    SBS classroom materials licensed under a Creative Commons License - SBS sims not for free distribution..