New Virginia Tech major fuses sports media, analytics

virginia techIn my next life, I want to come back as a student in the new sports media and analytics program at Virginia Tech.

“Our classroom is Lane Stadium. It’s Cassell Coliseum. It’s English Field,” said Bill Roth, a professor of practice in the Department of Communication. “We send students to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the ACC Tournament. That’s a classroom for us.”

Roth, you may remember, was the Voice of the Hokies, providing radio play-by-play for Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball for 27 years.

Students in the program have access to people like Roth and Robert Denton, a professor of communication who is one of the recognized voices on Virginia politics.

Seriously, no fair.

Olds like me had to figure this stuff out for ourselves, whereas the kids in this Virginia Tech program get people like Roth and Denton pointing them in the right direction.

The major, per a school news release, prepares students to produce and deliver sports news, consider ways to promote the sports industry, and analyze data related to sports accomplishments, fan participation, and social media.

Basically, what it’s taken me 25 years to figure out to do.

“Sports continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in America and around the world,” said Denton, head of the Department of Communication. “Job opportunities are across all forms of sports, media, and communication platforms. And the demand for sports programming and information is the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry.”

The Department of Communication first introduced sports media and analytics as a concentration in 2016, before creating the major this academic year.

“Understanding patterns in data is important within the sports industry,” Roth said. “Whether you’re the general manager of a team, a sports broadcaster, or the program director of a TV station deciding when and where games should be played, analytics are crucial.”

Denton anticipates more than 200 students enrolled in the new major within the next few years.

“Because of our great sports tradition and environment, students with interest in sports media gravitate to our new program,” Denton said. “Our state-of-the-art facilities, experiential learning opportunities, and award-winning faculty prepare students for a successful career in sports media and analytics.”

Story by Chris Graham


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