Student volunteers from Missouri State University’s Entertainment Management Association (EMA) got to work at the 56th Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
“I watch the Super Bowl every year, but I never thought about all the moving parts happening off camera,” said Kassidy Fox, entertainment management senior and EMA president.
“Getting a behind the scenes look at everything that goes into putting on an event of this scale was such a surreal and rewarding experience.”
A peek behind the scenes
The student volunteers attended online and in-person training prior to gameday at SoFi Stadium. Students were expected to control foot traffic near the only on-field access points. They made people aware of when big movements such as the halftime show were happening.
Fox was positioned outside the Bengals locker room while the other group members were located outside other key checkpoints, such as the performers’ green room, Rams locker room and VIP sections.
“There were so many highlights during my shift,” Fox said. “I was able to watch the Bengals walk out of their locker room and onto the field at the very beginning of the game.”
“I also saw so many celebrities like Jay Z, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Doja Cat and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
During their trip, students also visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier and toured a large music venue.
The trip was planned and orchestrated by Devin Jones, the EMA’s sports representative.
“Devin planned this trip all by himself before the school year even started,” Fox said. “We would not have had these amazing experiences without him. We are all so thankful for the time he took planning this trip.”
The happy business
Missouri State’s EMA members have been volunteering at the Super Bowl for the last 21 years. Dr. Philip Rothschild, associate professor of entertainment management, has facilitated all trips.
“It’s so important for students to have opportunities to work big events,” Rothschild said.
“Seeing it unfold up close gives them a sense of proportion. They learn that anything can be done if you break it up into small parts.”
Students pay for most of the trips themselves with some help from their fundraising efforts and various campus resources.
The trips are led, organized and executed by the students while Rothschild serves as a resource and support to the student leader, he explains.
“I value the relationships I build while on these trips,” Rothschild said. “I get to know the students better than I ever could in the classroom.”
He adds that he loves seeing their passion for their future career ignite.
“We always say we’re in the happy business. When the audience is happy and the event goes well, we’re happy, too.”
Connecting with alumni
In addition to providing students with meaningful experiences, these trips also allow current students to connect with the program’s alumni.
In Los Angeles, students had the opportunity to tour the Forum. The major music venue has historically hosted music giants, such as The Rolling Stones, Elton John and more recently, Harry Styles.
Their tour was led by the Forum’s event manager, Joseph Phillips. Phillips graduated from the entertainment management program in 2011.
“Dr. Rothschild and I have stayed in close contact over the years,” Phillips said. “It’s very rewarding to stay involved with the program and to help the next generation of entertainment managers.”
This wasn’t the only time the students saw Phillips. They bumped into him on gameday while he assisted in setting up the halftime show.
“It was great seeing the students working in a real-world situation,” Phillips said.
“The halftime show was one of my bucket list events I’ve wanted to be a part of. It was an amazing opportunity and I hope to work with the NFL again in the future.”
Entertainment management at MSU
Missouri State offers one of the few entertainment-focused degree programs in the United States. The courses offered are designed around current trends in the field.
Students have access to a well-established alumni network and an active student organization. They also have opportunities to gain hands-on experience through an internship and can attend conferences and national events like the Super Bowl.
“Entertainment management at Missouri State is such a unique program,” Phillips said. “It provides students with great opportunities to get involved with an industry that can otherwise feel out of reach for someone in Missouri.”