High school students in the Pittsburgh Public School District could find themselves more engaged in their studies this year thanks to a new career and technical education program. The new curriculum, created through a partnership between the Josh Gibson Foundation and Duquesne University, will introduce high school students to different career opportunities in sports, beyond the professional athlete track.
“So many kids want to be professional athletes and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s very few kids who are going to be able to make it to the professional level. But if you like sports, there’s so many opportunities that they have a better chance of becoming successful in then becoming an athlete,” said Sean Gibson, director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. “I’m not telling them to give up on their dreams, but you still have to have a plan B.”
The Business of Sports Academy is a three-year program focused on the areas of sports business; sports marketing and media; sports and event management; and sports law. Students enrolled in the program will have the ability to earn nine college credits through Duquesne.
“Sports are such a positive force in Pittsburgh and around the world, and a major economic driver,” said Steve Greenberg, chair of Duquesne’s marketing, sports marketing, supply chain management and entrepreneurship program in a release announcing the partnership. “We thought that if we helped develop a high school business curriculum around sports, we might be able to interest more kids in staying in school and open them to the possibility of continuing their studies in college.”
The program will operate similarly to other career and technical education programs in the District. Students will be transported to Westinghouse High School and Carrick High School for their afternoon classes.
“This partnership prepares students not only for a career but college as well. Our students will graduate with a high school diploma, Microsoft Office certification and college credits. We want our students to know that they don’t have to be athletes to excel in the sports arena,” said Angela Mike, executive director of Career and Technical Education for PPS in the release.
The BOSA curriculum includes classroom instruction, speakers with careers in sports management and media, and internships with area professional and college teams and media outlets. The Josh Gibson Foundation has been developing financial resources, primarily from private foundation grants, to support the BOSA program and provide the curriculum, speakers, internships and credits to the students at no cost.
“Sports bring people together whether its youth, gender, or race. I think that’s the most important thing,” Gibson said. “So we want this to be something new and exciting for the kids. Not only will this be something great for kids interested in sports, but it can also lead them to a career. One of the things we really want to do is get young ladies involved. There’s a lot of great careers in sports for young ladies.”
Gibson was inspired to create the program when he witnessed the disparate number of African-Americans taking advantage of job opportunities behind the scenes in sports careers. He chose to offer the program to the PPS because both he and his grandfather Josh Gibson graduated from the District.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do this is because of my grandfather’s legacy. Josh Gibson went to the Pittsburgh public schools, so this is another way to extend his legacy outside of only kids playing sports,” Gibson said. “We are a product of the Pittsburgh public schools so this is a way for us to give back.”
Students interested in enrolling in the BOSA program should speak with their school counselor.