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Students’ Winning Project Supports Mental, Physical Health Through Basketball

Sustainable Development Goals Competition presented business solutions that can drive sustainable innovation

A student team in the Sports Management program at Californian Lutheran University took top honors and a $1,000 prize in the university’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Competition 2023. The three students worked together on a presentation that showcased how basketball can help Los Angeles County youth improve their physical and mental health and support the L.A. Clippers’ community engagement at the same time.

Three teams were chosen as finalists to compete in the Dec. 6 event. The students’ projects were derived from their semester-length capstone projects for the Sports Management program; each project focused on developing sustainable and business solutions to solve a real-world sports-related problem. Students identified issues related to social inclusion, economic growth and environmental protection, and created strategies to educate the community about them.

Los Angeles-based sports industry leaders served as judges for the competition attended by 80 students and Cal Lutheran leadership.

“All three groups really had impressive presentations. They had really good facts, well thought out presentations,” said Artis Twyman, vice president of communications at the Los Angeles Rams. “What they’re talking about now — sustainability, how the world is heating up and mental health issues — all these things are not only what we’re deliberating now, but will be deliberating down the line. I think it’s important that [Cal Lutheran students] address it at this time.”

The second annual competition grew out of Cal Lutheran’s School of Management’s commitment to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported, worldwide initiative. “At the heart of ‘Agenda 2030’ are 17 SDGs and 169 related targets that address the most important economic, social, environmental and governance challenges of our time,” according to the PRME website.

Through the SDGs, Cal Lutheran students see first-hand how these initiatives have become a large part of today’s sports organizations’ identities, and how their efforts can contribute to increasing the impact of SDG work in the future.

Between presentations, the attendees and judges engaged in lively conversations around tables throughout the room. These sessions were designed to help students learn about the leaders’ careers in the sports-management field, as well as network with them.

SDG Competition Results:

1st Place: Matthew Mikhail, Jacob Romano, Dallas Martin
Presentation Title: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Presentation Summary: Expanding L.A.Clippers initiative to support mental and physical well-being through basketball camps in L.A. parks.
Prize: $1,000

2nd Place: Brandon “Kekoa” Alana, Timothy Thompson, Kennedy Lazenby
Presentation Summary: Building a financial literacy education program through the Golden State Warriors basketball team to educate the underserved youth of the Bay Area.
Prize: $500

3rd Place: Ryan Santourian
Presentation Summary: Combining electric cars and baseball to make a difference in the lives of Californians.
Prize: $250

Students said the competition was not the finish line for their projects. 

“Through our research, we’ve actually been able to make a couple contacts with the help of some of the judges like Dan Isaacson, [president of Isaacson Fitness, LLC] and people at the Clippers,” said Martin. “So right now we’re in the process of finalizing what that project looks like so it’s presentable to the Clippers front office, hopefully.”

Mark Orlando, Ed.D., director of the Sports Management program at Cal Lutheran, said he is proud of the program’s students and how committed they are to pursuing innovative projects that benefit the field of sports management and the community.

“These projects are simply proposals and do not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the organizations referenced,” Orlando added. “However, they are intended to open the line of thinking and opportunities in how organizations can be leveraged and give back to goodwill.”

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.