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A Conversation with SPMA Council President, Ethan Crystal

Tell us about yourself. What year are you going into? Why did you choose Brock Sport Management?

I’m from Montreal and I’m going into my 3rd/4th year of school. It is kind of complicated because I transferred from Concordia University so I’m taking 3rd and 4th year courses but will graduate in 2021. Like I mentioned, I’m from Montreal and when I was in CEGEP, I struggled. I slacked off, I wasn’t focused and was not taking my future seriously. Originally, I wanted to get into the John Molson School of Business at Concordia, but I did not meet the prerequisites. Instead I took political science and tried to improve my grades enough to transfer into the business the program, but I did not enjoy political science at all. After talking to an academic advisor, that’s when I had heard about the Brock Sport Management program and I ended up applying on a whim. I have always loved sports and when I was younger, I played hockey. I remember one time after a hockey practice, I was talking to my dad and I told him that I wanted to be a professional hockey player in the NHL. He told me that was not going to happen but if I worked hard, I could be the General Manager of a hockey team, a hockey player agent or just work in the sport industry in general. So, long story short, I got accepted to Brock Sport Management.

What is your role as SPMA Council President?

My role as council president is to help and advise the members of council and to be a liaison between the faculty and the students. My goal is to bridge the gap between students and professionals in the sport industry and act as a representative of the students with their best interests in mind. As well, I help run the everyday tasks within the council and help in the decision-making process. I also like to think that myself and the other council executives are employers because we have given council members the opportunity to learn and gain experience in areas such as event management, social media, problem solving, teamwork, etc.

Did you see yourself as Council President when you came to Brock?

When I moved to St. Catharines from Montreal, I had no idea what to expect because as I mentioned before, I applied to Brock on a whim. At the orientation SPMA Council gave a presentation so that was my first real exposure to council and where it sparked my passion. I saw joining council as an opportunity to almost give back to Brock and to get involved in sport. That year, I applied to be on council to be a first-year rep but really didn’t know what my specific role would be. At the time the President was Dave Stark and he gave us freedom to be creative and try something new, so I was one of the people that brought up the idea about doing a podcast and its success has grown to what it is today. All I can say is that I am very fortunate that the members of council believed in me and allowed me to be their council President this year.

How has COVID-19 had an impact on your life?

When the school announced on Friday, March 13th that classes would be going online for the remainder of the semester I packed up my car and went back to Montreal the next day and I didn’t leave my house for almost two months. At the time, I think everyone was just in panic mode and no one knew what was happening or how bad things would get. I was scared that the government would close provincial borders, so I wanted to get home as soon as possible. For me, I started to realize that COVID was serious when March Madness was cancelled, and other sport leagues also began to cancel their seasons. But looking back the pandemic has made me realize that there are bigger and more important things than sports or going out with friends.

What have you learned most about yourself during this time?

COVID has taught me to value the time that I spend with people that I care about. I didn’t see my friends or my girlfriend for the first couple of months but seeing them when I did, made it worth staying inside. I have also learned that as much as I hate being busy, I need to busy. After the winter semester had ended, I hated not having anything to do. That was part of the reason why SPMA Council took on the task of doing a virtual speaker series because it was the general consensus that we all wanted to something to do.

What are your thoughts about the way the sport industry has adapted to the resumption of play?

Back in March if you asked me this question my answer might have been different than how I think today. As a fan, I hated that sports were canceled but now I really understand that it was the right decision. As a future sport professional, I have nothing negative to say about the cancelations and about the way the resumption of play was handled. I also think that this made people realize how important sports are to society. Now that sports have resumed the biggest thing, I’ve noticed is how important fans are. Everything we do in the sport industry is for the fans who invest their money into players, sports, leagues, etc. I find that I am actually more engaged now because I’m interested to see how leagues and teams engage with their fans. I think the cardboard cut-outs and virtual fan boards were really creative ways of including the fans when they can’t actually at the games. My final thought is that COVID has really helped shed a different light on athletes in the eyes of some. It is so easy for sport fans to put athletes on this pedestal but as we see athletes get sick or opt out of seasons it proves that they are dealing with the same things as we are dealing with.

Given the impact that COVID-19 has had on the upcoming school year, how has that changed your approach to leading SPMA Council given that we aren’t able to meet or hold events in person?

Right away we basically threw our plans out the window. Back in March, council had posted that we were looking to recruit new members and we had planned to do all interviews and select people before the school year had ended. When everything was shut down, we then had to do all interview virtually and have been doing everything like that since. The next hurdle we faced was trying to plan for the upcoming school year because before Brock announced that we would have the fall semester online we were trying to plan events as if we would be able to meet in person. Again, that quickly changed and now we are thinking of ways to hold events virtually. The pandemic has forced us to think outside of the box, re-adjust plans and adapt to the given circumstances. In some ways I think that this is a good thing because it has challenged everyone on council to be more creative and to also engage more.

Without giving away too many details, what are you most wanting to see happen this year for SPMA Council and what are you most looking forward to?

I want council to have the same or greater impact on the Brock SPMA community that it has had in previous years. I think that given the circumstances we are the most unique council to date, and I want to take advantage of that. The members of council have been working since March to come up with a plan of attack and come up with ideas to host great virtual events. My goal is to see council start the semester strong and make an impact with the plans that we have. Some other things that I am looking forward to including maybe hosting another virtual speaker series given the success that the first one had. I’m also looking forward to SPMA Podcast season 2. We’ve already released on episode and our general theme for this year is getting out of your comfort zone. I’m also excited to see the growth of all twenty-two individuals on council and I hope that everyone is able to grow and gain different experiences.

Final thoughts. Can you leave us with something motivational to start off the semester?

Sometimes it is just too easy to think of the negatives or the losses, so it is important that someone points out a positive. I think that a little motivation can go a long way because it shows that someone is supporting you.

I’m a strong believer in reputation and the idea that your name follows you with everything you do. When you do something, do with the idea that your reputation or your “brand” is on the line. Work hard now to create a good reputation for yourself because it will follow you into your adult and professional life.

“Life is like poker; you have to play the cards that you were dealt. What that means is you can’t change the cards you are given but you can choose how you play the cards”- Ethan Crystal

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