SportsBiz Madness 2024: Case Study Tournament (Opening Round Results)

Published by Chris Lindauer on

SportsBiz Madness 2024: Case Study Tournament (Opening Round Results)


Thank you to all who participated in the opening round of the competition. Your students submitted many great ideas for creating a charitable 5k race event. While only eight teams can advance, you should be proud of the work your students put forth in this tournament.

The teams moving on managed to separate themselves by introducing unique ideas and practical execution plans. One area that prevented a few groups from advancing was a need for more focus on the many logistical challenges that events like these present. From volunteers, weather, participant, and spectator safety to ensuring sponsors are happy, event management professionals need to focus on delivering the best experience possible to everyone involved, including area residents and community members.

Here are some highlights from the groups who will be advancing to the “Elite Eight” bracket round of our competition.

“Virginia is for Lovers Run” (Green Run High School, Virginia)

The teams that performed the best in round one of this year’s case study tournament excelled in at least one of the following areas:

  1. Offered a unique idea, theme or location
  2. Supported those ideas with effective and practical marketing
  3. Developed execution strategies in preparation for any of the event’s logistical challenges
  4. Applied classroom learning and concepts from the textbook

Students at Green Run checked each and every one of those boxes. With a unique theme (tying in with the state’s tourism motto instantly provides awareness with local residents who represent the target market) and fun location (Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District known for its buildings and streets
portraying artwork from different artists), they will no doubt see strong registration numbers, especially with their price point relative to target audience.

Partnering with the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund will support a cause that resonates on a local level, meaning almost every area resident could feel compelled to either participate or come out to the event as a spectator to rally behind the community.

Green Run students clearly did some homework as well, recognizing the “virtual participation” trend offered by many races around the country. By incorporating an application of the 5 P’s of Event Marketing and the Event Triangle, they demonstrated a strong understanding of key concepts from the textbook as well.

All in all, Green Run earned an A+ for effort, and would have been the top seed if this tournament was seeded. Either way, they seem poised for a run at another trophy in our annual case study tournament. Great job!

“Battle of the Branches” (Downers Grove North 6th Period, Illinois)

Students at Downers Grove North knocked it out of the park with the “Battle of the Branches” 5k event. With its theme focused on Military appreciation, an event staging a competition between each miltary branch allows the event to bring a broad level of awareness and support to the Wounded Warrior Project. By incorporating specific KPIs, they offered measurable goals (nicely demonstrating a firm grasp on concepts from the textbook) with an excellent strategy for reaching them.

Highlights from the report included:

  • Sound messaging strategy
  • Multi-channel approach to marketing
  • Registration incentives
  • Sponsor outreach
  • Community engagement

Really well done!

“Run for Rescues” (Wichita East High School, Kansas)

The “Run for Rescues” 5k event from Wichita East students had a LOT of great activations that would support the group’s charitable partner, Kansas Humane Society. The activations would not only be engaging and raise awareness and donations, they would also help the organization to achieve another goal: Finding homes for shelter pets. The “puppy parade” idea would showcase shelter pets looking for homes, and finding ways to bring some fun to the event is always key to attract interest and participation both with runners and spectators. In the case of the “Run for Rescues” event, spectators will be just as important to its overall success as participants. Activations like allowing pets to participate in the race (along with preparing for any potential logistical nightmares that could occur as a result), costume contests for pets and owners, obstacle courses for dogs, and a pet-theme photo booth will most certainly attract a crowd.

Wichita East students also strategized to leverage its marketing of the event as a communications tool as well, by educating the public about public about animal rescue issues, responsible pet care, and the importance of adoption.

Great marketing ideas, a sound event management plan, and application of key concepts helped to push Wichita East into the bracket round of this competition. Way to go!

“Run Wild 5K” (Blacksburg High School, Virginia)

Blacksburg students put in the research, and determined that Los Angeles has the second most runners per capita in the Country (via Strava), leading them to host the “Run Wild 5k” in L.A.

The research also suggests L.A. residents have a love for wildlife, which led to a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness for the protection of freshwater resources, landscapes, and wildlife in six continents as well as 350 cities and counties. Hosting the event at the L.A. County Arboretum offers a unique venue that is on-brand with the 5k theme.

With lots of engaging activations throughout the course, both spectators and participants (after they finish the race) will have opportunities to learn more about the cause. Incorporating digital interactions like QR codes will help to amplify those messages, resulting in support for the cause both through donations and awareness and education.

Blacksburg students also took full advantage of the opportunity to submit supplemental materials, including images of the course map, locations of education stations, race-branded merchandise, and more.

Overall, a really nice effort from Blacksburg High School.

“Bamboo Blitz” (Grant High School, Oregon)

One of the key criteria evaluated for this case study was creativity. We wanted to see unique ideas for a 5k event, whether theme, location, or anything else. Grant High School sure delivered! Welcome to the “Bamboo Blitz” 5k, in China, raising awareness for Panda conservation. Funds raised through the event will help with the construction of more Panda preservation habitats and improvements to existing habitats throughout China.

From the group’s report: “On April 10th, 2024, amidst the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Great Wall of China, runners from around the world gathered to participate in a thrilling 5k race. The event, set against the breathtaking scenery of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, will attract both seasoned athletes and enthusiastic amateurs eager to test their endurance on this challenging course.”

More importantly, students also recognized that an event at the Great Wall of China would come with significant logistical challenges, including permits and government permission. The group emphasized they would go to incredible lengths to make sure they would do everything necessary to protect the Great Wall, one of the 7 wonders of the world, and that the event would be unlikely to get off the ground without serious measures in place to preserve the iconic area.

Impressive work from Grant High School!

“Gatorade Race for Colour Blind Awareness” (Elizabethtown High School, Pennsylvania)

One thing that was really fun with this particular case study was to see all the different causes being supported. Partnering with “Colour Blind Awareness” was one of the most unique. What was really captivating about this entry from students at Elizabethtown High School was how well they managed to bring a sponsor into the fold that could offer a unique activation with Gatorade. From the group’s report: “This color run is different from the average color run 5k. Gatorade will sponsor this event, and in order to complete the race, you must stop at all the Gatorade “checkpoints”. There will be 6 check points, where Gatorade will market their different products in the order of the rainbow! For example, checkpoint number 1 will have a red Gatorade, then stop number 2 will have Gatorade’s orange energy gummies… and so on.”

With the “Gatorade Race for Colour Blind Awareness”, both the cause and the sponsor come out as winners, thanks to the variety of colors featured in Gatorade’s wide-ranging product lines. Adding value for spectators with free sampling stations throughout the course shows how students focused on application of the event triangle, and demonstrates an understanding of a key concept from the textbook.

They also did a great job with event management and finding creative solutions to logistical challenges that the event could present. For example, the race would take place at and around the Fairgrounds, chosen for its feasibility, space, and local accessibility. By using this venue, there is no need to close down main roads. The event is scheduled for May 4th, which was specifically chosen before the peak tourist season, allowing event marketers to focus on the community to maximize participation and attendance.

Great job Elizabethtown High School!

“Holiday Ugly Sweater Run” (Downers Grove North 4th Period, Illinois)

The most successful 5ks are the events that create a fun environment that encourages participation, using themes and holidays or unique destinations. This one from Downers Grove North checks all the boxes. In support of Toys for Tots, during a festive time of year and a season of giving, Downers Grove North students chose to host a “Holiday Ugly Sweater Run” in Chicago.

This group of students demonstrated a strong plan for event management, including contingency plans in case of inclement weather if safety were to become a concern. The marketing included efforts to attract participation (including holiday gift bags for everyone who registers) and spectators with holiday-themed attractions throughout the course. At the core of all the marketing strategy was a focus on encouraging donations of both toys and money to help support the cause. And with an event route that highlights notable sights like Navy Pier and the Navy Pier Christmas Tree, the Chicago Skyline, Lakeshore Park, Bennett Park, Northwestern Campus, Historic Lakefront trail, and Lake Michigan, what’s not to love about this event?

REALLY nice job from Downers Grove North, 4th period students.

“NYC Fast & Fur-ious 5K” (Flower Mound High School, Texas)

Best Friends Animal Society was another unique charity, and the choice of a cause to support by students at Flower Mound High School. The venue, Central Park in New York City, is also unique. But what really stood out was an incredibly thorough and well developed SWOT analysis that keyed in on things like traffic, and finding ways to build community support in a city with 8.5 million people.

Flower Mound students exceeded expectations for each of this case study’s evaluation criteria, and went above and beyond with supporting documentation, including things like an event logo, detailed graphics displaying race route with check points and volunteer stations, mock-ups of mock-ups of event gear that will be sold to help raise even more money but also promote the cause, a mock-up of the race t-shirt included with registration, sample marketing materials, an Instagram post promoting registration, even a TikTok video!

Fantastic job Flower Mound!


The eight teams advancing in the tournament will compete in a head-to-head style format for the opportunity to be crowned champs of the 2024 case study tournament. Teams were not seeded, the bracket pairings are drawn at random. Good luck to our participating students in the “Elite Eight” round!

Categories: Blog

Chris Lindauer

After working for nearly a decade in professional sports, Chris Lindauer, formed Sports Career Consulting to provide unique sports business education opportunities in and out of the classroom. In the eighteen years (and counting) that followed, Chris has inspired thousands of students to pursue their passions and explore the career of their dreams. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two teenage daughters and their dog.