College of Arts & Sciences Announces New Sports Media Major

College of Arts & Sciences Announces New Sports Media Major

Fairfield University's highly anticipated interdisciplinary program is slated to launch in the fall of 2020.

Sports is one of the rare types of content that has adapted very well to our new digital environment while continuing to thrive on television. The result is a robust, dynamic industry that needs innovative professionals who can work across a variety of multimedia platforms.

— Adam Rugg, PhD, assistant professor of communication

Each new academic year is ripe with the promise of new academic pursuits, and in fall 2020, Fairfield University’s College of Arts and Sciences will fulfill that promise by launching a brand-new interdisciplinary major in sports media. The highly anticipated program will encompass the main industry components that make up the larger sports media environment — journalism, broadcasting, communication, and public relations — and combine them with a critical approach to studying sports that is rooted in the liberal arts and in Fairfield’s Jesuit mission.

Program co-directors Adam Rugg, PhD, assistant professor of communication, and Matthew Tullis, assistant professor of English and director of the University’s digital journalism program, explained that the new program was not only born out of their own professional interests and academic research, but from the interests of their students as well. 

“In our first three semesters at Fairfield, we encountered several students who were completing internships in various forms of sports media,” Tullis said, “and we learned that they were cobbling together courses that would one day help them pursue a career in the field.”

Now, the path is being laid out for them. Offering an experiential, analytical, and interdisciplinary approach to learning, the new sports media major requires students to take a combination of courses within the College of Arts and Sciences’ Digital Journalism, Communication, and Film, Television, and Media Arts programs, including “News Writing,” “Remote TV Production,” and “Crisis Communication,” to name a few.

Throughout their studies, students will learn to critically evaluate the social, cultural, and political issues that imbue and surround sports, while learning the dexterity and skills essential to navigate the industry’s wide range of careers. Students will also benefit from the University’s proximity to many major sports media institutions like ESPN, NBC Sports, WWE, and the YES Network, which will serve as key locations to pursue internships and potentially begin careers.

Unique to Fairfield, the program also provides students with the tools to think about the sports media industry beyond the abilities required to work within it — many of which align with the University’s Jesuit mission. With an industry “beset by the broader political and social issues that define contemporary civic life,” Dr. Rugg feels strongly that Fairfield’s program “leverages the Jesuit mission of the University and the critical focus of the College of Arts and Sciences to produce socially conscious and engaged citizens who will be able to critically examine sports as a social practice with important cultural and political meanings and interactions.”

To achieve this goal, students will be encouraged to take elective classes related to critical interrogations of race, gender, sex, and class in both sports and non-sports contexts. Dr. Rugg feels this level of interdisciplinary study is particularly important “as the next generation of leaders in sports media will be those who are not only technically adept in their field, but also carry a critically informed awareness and humanistic understanding that will help the sports institution negotiate these increasingly visible and trying issues.”

According to both Dr. Rugg and Assistant Professor Tullis, the timing of the new sports media major’s launch couldn’t be better as it aligns with the industry’s rapid growth and demand for highly skilled, well-rounded professionals.

“Sports is one of the rare types of content that has adapted very well to our new digital environment while continuing to thrive on television,” Dr. Rugg said. “The result is a robust, dynamic industry that needs innovative professionals who can work across a variety of multimedia platforms. As the industry has grown, there has been a growth in sports media related programs at universities, typically within their Communication and/or Journalism programs. Fairfield is now joining this growing list and helping to chart the direction of this area of study.”

To learn more about Fairfield University's sports media program, visit www.fairfield.edu/sportsmedia.

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Last modified: 04-09-20 1:23 PM

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