Sound Tigers Prez Talks Sports to DSB
Howard Saffan, The president of the Bridgeport, Conn., hockey team, the Sound Tigers, was on hand to talk to students about the business of sports at a recent lecture sponsored by the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.
“If your passion is in sports, we want to feed that,” said Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School, to students who attended the event on March 5. Students in the business school and around campus had expressed interest in more events geared towards entering into the sports management field. And, with the business of sports growing rapidly in the economy, Dr. Gibson explained, they were happily responding to the demand and eager to welcome Saffan, who has served as the president of the Sound Tigers and the Webster Bank Arena since 2005.
Saffan spoke to students about many topics including how he got started working in sports. “Sports were my life, especially soccer,” he explained, “But when I realized I wasn’t going to be the next Pelé, I buckled down in school.” Saffan studied finance at Syracuse University and graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1984.
Following time in several career avenues, including law, sports agency, and real estate, Saffan began to make his mark in sports and recreation. The business of sports, Saffan noted, was incredibly competitive, especially considering the changing social climate. “Have you ever attended a Super Bowl?” he asked his audience. “It’s boring. You’re there for hours before the game even starts.” Today, he explained, younger audiences were used to engaging with many forms of entertainment at once, and he and his employees were constantly looking for new and exciting ways to keep their audience engaged during a game.
In addition to audience engagement, Saffan said that customer service was the most important part of his job. “The business of sports,” he explained, “is about being a part of your community. It’s relationship management.” Following the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, Saffan and his team engaged with their community in many ways including having members of the Sound Tigers wear the names of all of the victims on their jerseys.
His talk with students continued after his presentation with an informal and fun Q&A session where Saffan easily bantered back and forth with students. “How many of you brought your resumes with you tonight?” he asked. After gently teasing those who hadn’t, he collected the resumes of students who did bring them and said he would follow up with interviews for internships. He concluded by saying that, when hiring, he looked for hard workers, a trait he had learned from his own parents, and of course, a love of sports.
Interested in more sports management lectures? Attend the Dolan Lecture, April 24th, 7:30 at the Quick Center for the Arts with John K. Mara, President and CEO of New York football Giants in conversation with Mike Francesa, host of WFAN sports radio 66 and 101.9 FM. Call the Quick Center for tickets: 1-877-278-7396