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Students and judges pose at the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Competition. (Photo: Maxim Yalch)

Sports are More than a Game for Cal Lutheran Students

Sustainable Development Goals Competition highlights students’ business solutions that can drive sustainable innovation for sports brands.

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF., Nov. 17, 2023 —California Lutheran University’s Sports Management program, part of the School of Management, is governed by an overarching commitment: Make a better world while providing innovative solutions to problems facing the sports and entertainment industry. The Cal Lutheran Sports Management Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Competition 2023 showcases the students’ application of these humanistic and business-related goals. The competition will be 5-7 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Lundring Events Center on the Cal Lutheran campus, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. The public is invited to attend to witness the evolution of innovation through the minds of the next wave of change agents.

Five Los Angeles-area sports industry executives will serve as judges for the second annual competition. The students will present their projects that address how they would pose sustainable solutions to a specific sports-business problem. Next, the students will meet individually with each judge before they make their decision. Through the judges’ feedback and explanations of real-world applications of their plans, the students will gain insightful perspectives on how SDG initiatives have become a large part of today’s sports organizations’ identities, and how their own work might contribute to increasing the effectiveness of SDG work. Students also will have the opportunity to network with these influential leaders.

“Sports are known for bringing people together to bond over fandom, to escape from everyday stressors and —most importantly — to make joyful memories. But sports are also connectors, making people feel part of something bigger than themselves,” said Mark Orlando, Ed.D., director of the Sports Management program at Cal Lutheran.

“As such, we teach our Sports Management students how the importance of leveraging a brand can create awareness for causes, as well as how to become agents of change for the greater good,” he said, illustrating the commitment Cal Lutheran’s School of Management has to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported, worldwide initiative.

Cal Lutheran stands out as the only undergraduate Sports Management program in California that noticeably promotes and integrates a sustainable development curriculum. It is also one of five programs in the state that is part of a business/management school; others are more embedded in health, health and human services, kinesiology and other nonbusiness-oriented programming.

To complete their degrees, senior students in the Sports Management program develop activation plans that leverage influential brands from a professional sports league, franchise or nonprofit organization. Prior to the final competition, students go through initial rounds of evaluation and voting.

Students in the program identify crises related to social inclusion, economic growth or environmental protection and create strategies to raise awareness and educate the community.

A sampling of the capstone projects includes creating an after-school district program to promote positive youth development and offer a safe space where children can explore different interests and discover their potential, and integrating electric vehicle charging stations at Major League Baseball stadiums in California.

Sports Management Sustainable Development Goals Competition judges include:

  • Artis Twyman — Vice President of Communications at the Los Angeles Rams
  • Kevin Rider Jr. — Public Relations Manager at Angel City FC
  • Karina Herold — former Vice President of Major Events at the Los Angeles Entertainment Commission, and founder of SH Advisors 
  • Evan Flagg — Senior Director, Membership and Group Sales at Los Angeles Kings
  • Chris Fajardo — Senior Director of Community Impact at Angel City FC

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About California Lutheran University: Founded in 1959 and formally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution since 2016, California Lutheran University is home to over 2,300 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Our students come from 59 countries and represent a wide spectrum of faiths and spirituality. Our dedicated, accomplished faculty teach in small classes, guiding our students as they grow into open-minded leaders who are strong in character and judgment, confident in identity andvocation, and committed to service and justice. Everyone at Cal Lutheran is committed to helping each student pursue their passions, discover their purpose and transform their community. Learn more at

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