“I always wanted to combine my legal training with my love of sports. Earning a master’s degree in sports administration from Northwestern increases my chances of succeeding at that. Everyone wants to get into sports; my degree shows I’m invested in it.”
Matt Pinkham grew up in sports, hanging out in locker rooms with his father, a football coach at universities on the East Coast and in Minnesota. “When you see sports behind the scenes and all the people involved, you get addicted,” says Pinkham. A talented athlete himself, Pinkham played varsity football at Brown University, where he earned a degree in psychology and took home the award for the player with the highest GPA.
His interest in sports never waned. At the University of Virginia School of Law, Pinkham served on the managing board of a sports law journal. When he became an associate in a top Chicago law firm, Pinkham devoted a quarter of his practice to professional sports teams. His current post at a global consumer electronics company has few sports tie-ins, but Pinkham relishes negotiating sponsor agreements, a skill at the heart of much of the business of sports.
To gain a deeper understanding of the business of sports, Pinkham enrolled in the Master of Arts in Sports Administration (MSA) program. “I’ve learned that marketing really permeates sports,” says Pinkham, who is in the program’s sports management track. Pinkham has run with the ball in all his classes, from Sports Labor Relations and Negotiation to Nontraditional Revenue Strategies, where students were challenged to develop and pitch sponsorship partnerships. Another bonus: “Chicago is a sports city, and the program has given me opportunities to meet local sports executives,” says Pinkham. “The Northwestern connection gives you instant credibility and makes networking easier.”