New sports business courses delve into rivalry and riches

Passionate is a word commonly used to describe the way Joe Cobbs, assistant professor of sports business, approaches to his classes and students. Cobbs and other NKU professors were able to take advantage of that passion and expand the sports business program at NKU for the 2014-15 school year.

Starting in the fall semester, NKU will begin to offer two new classes, SPB 200 “Rivalry and Ritual in International Sports” and SPB 307, “Moneyball: The economics of Sports.”

Cobbs believes the addition of these classes will fill a lack of sports-based economics in the current sports business curriculum, and provide a more immersive, fun experience for students.

“We take a look at our curriculum about every three to five years at the most and try and figure out, ‘are we covering the concepts that we need to cover to prepare our students the best to work in the sports industry?’” Cobbs said. ”When we did that the last time, a little over a year ago we felt like we could use more content on the economics side of sports and also on students understanding of the international nature of sports.”

The SPB 200 class has no prerequisite and will be taught on Tuesdays from 3:05 to 5:50 p.m. next semester. The focus for this class will be on what drives the rivalries between sports teams, and also the differences between sports in America and other countries.


The class takes an in depth look at the culture of sports in other countries, and what makes people so attached to one team or another. Looking beyond simply the business side of sports, the class weaves aspects of sociology and psychology as it looks at sports ranging from baseball, football, English Premier League Soccer to Formula 1 racing.

“I think the classes will be fun, but also I think students are going to learn a lot about culture and sociology and the psychological nature of sports,” Cobbs said.

SPB 307 has a prerequisite of ECO 201 and will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:40 to 2:55 p.m. “Moneyball” as the class is dubbed will focus mainly on the economics aspects of sports, and will answer the questions: What causes player strikes in sports? Is the multi-billion dollar investment by CBS/Turner in March Madness worth it? The class will also focus on the book/movie the class is named after by reading “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis.

Jake Ollier, junior economics major is excited for the addition of these classes to the sports business curriculum. He believes that the passion surrounding Cobbs and Jenny Gardner; the Director of the Sports Business Program, will make the classes exciting and interesting to students.

“I look at Jenny Gardner and Dr. Cobbs and they have this fiery passion for sports business and they bring it to the classroom, they bring enthusiasm and knowledge and their experience,” Ollier said. “In the sports business world its not just Company X and Company Y, it’s actually the Yankees, TNT, March Madness. It’s concepts we see every day, not just inside the classroom.”

Danielle Hayek, senior sports business major, believes the addition of these classes will give NKU students an advantage in the sports business world.

“This is a degree that opens up a lot of doors, and the market is still new enough to where the jobs aren’t completely taken over,” Hayek said. “I think it will be cool because it’s related directly to sports. Even my sports marketing class has sports themes but it’s mainly a marketing class.”

Cobbs stresses that these classes are not just open for economics and sports business majors. He believes that any nearly any major would enjoy and benefit from these classes.

There are still open spots available for both classes in the 2014-15 fall semester, students interested can find more information at