Skip to main content

About ILR

ILR Building in Ithaca, NY
As the preeminent educational institution in the world focused on work, employment and labor, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) generates and shares knowledge that improves the lives of workers and transforms the future of work.

Club Explores Labor and Sports Business Intersection

Matisse Nelson ’23, left, and Zach Welch ’23


Sports business is a no-brainer career option for ILRies Matisse Nelson ’23 and Zach Welch ’23. The ILR degree, centered around labor-management, helps them pursue their dream. As co-presidents of the ILR Sports Business Society, Nelson and Welch run weekly club meetings to assist students pursuing careers in sports business.

“All events are dedicated to helping people build careers in sports, from speaker events to case studies to networking opportunities with alumni,” Welch said. Learning about the Sports Business Society as a prospective student helped him realize he wanted to pursue sports business. “They told me that ILR is really connected to sports business, from working with teams, agents and corporations. That kind of lit something off in me, which made me realize that was what I wanted to do.”

Nelson always knew he wanted to pursue a career in sports business. The summer before his first year, he emailed the club presidents to look for ways to get involved. “Once I saw that ILR had sports business courses, it was something I immediately wanted to get involved with.”

According to Nelson, “Sports are one of the prime examples of labor relations.” Welch echoed Nelson by saying, “Looking at the athletes, specifically, they unionize. They are the most public union for most young people,” Welch said.

They emphasized how much ILR classes have helped them gain skills needed in sports business. For example, the collective bargaining exercises that every ILRie does through the labor relations classes relate directly to the bargaining practices many agents have to do for their clients. The knowledge from labor history classes directly applies to how these organizations should be structured. Statistics, another course every ILRie takes, is one of the most utilized skills within sports.

The Sports Business Society speakers this semester have included Willie Green, head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Debra Jones-McConnell, director of global sports at Morgan Stanley. Jones-McConnell spoke about the financial advising aspect of sports business. “It was a very different side from what we usually see in ILR, given that she is more on the finance side, as she is directly dealing with player finances. That was really interesting,” Nelson said

Nelson and Welch said they hope the club helps ILRies interested in sports business build their careers and networks. From multiple networking opportunities to club discussions, they hope that people will realize how much ILR has prepared them to be successful in sports business.