As the NCAA has often stated in its commercials that run during March Madness, 98 percent of student athletes (more than 450,000 annually) go pro in something other than sports. But having spent so much of their varsity days on the field or in the training room, some graduates haven’t received as much exposure to the business world. Enter Beast Mode.
Retired NFL star Marshawn Lynch has teamed up with Endeavor and digital sports platform Overtime for a free, two-week online course designed to be a boot camp for a career on the business side of sports or entertainment. Although Level Up: An Athlete Accelerator Program is open to anyone interested in such jobs (registration is available at the Endeavor Impact website), it will focus on serving current and former athletes as well as participants from historically excluded backgrounds. As the official nonprofit partner of Level Up, Sports Biz Camps, which serves underrepresented high school and college students, will also automatically receive access to the course.
“I’ve always said there are a whole lot of life lessons learned through the game,” Lynch, a client of Endeavor’s agency WME, said in a statement. “My business partner, BSheng [Bryon Sheng, chief marketing officer of Lynch’s various ventures], and I’ve been rocking with the Endeavor summer program the last couple of years. We’ve been kickin’ game about the ins and outs of the industry from our experiences, and we’re looking forward to sharing some more ‘isms’ this summer.”
Level Up will kick off June 20 with a “Sports as a Platform” session led by WME Sports co-heads Josh Pyatt and Karen Brodkin as well as Overtime CEO Dan Porter. Every day at 5 pm ET for the next 10 days, participants will hear from such speakers including journalist Cari Champion, Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, ObsidianWorks co-founder and CEO Chad Easterling on topics including marketing, financial literacy and managing mental and physical health .
“At our core, Overtime aims to empower next-generation athletes and fans to reach for their dreams,” Porter, who formerly oversaw the digital business at Endeavor (when it was known as WME-IMG), said in a statement. “We’re proud to partner with my former colleagues at Endeavor and Marshawn Lynch to provide unique access to industry and thought leaders as college athletes prepare to begin their careers.”
June 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, and as such, Level Up will also host a panel focusing on female leadership in sports, featuring Turner Sports and Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks as well as Overtime head of athlete relations Shea Dawson.
“The prospect for athletes to enter the business side of our industry can be daunting if they don’t already have a big name or established connections,” Endeavor senior vice president and head of impact and inclusion Romola Ratnam said in a statement. “Our hope for this course is to aid current and former athletes in developing tools to establish careers in the sports and entertainment industry that they can thrive in long after their playing days.”
Other Endeavor virtual programs include Summer Series and NXT, which have collectively featured more than 24,000 participants over the past two years. So far, the company has hired more than 50 alumni from its various virtual training and education programs.