A master class on the business of basketball

Amanda Allshouse (’11) has traveled the world in her nine years as an executive with the National Basketball Association.

SUMMARY: Hart school graduate offers pointers on running a pro basketball franchise.

By David Doremus

Students in Emeka Anaza's "Introduction to Sport and Recreation Management" class could hardly have asked for feedback from a more authoritative source as they prepared their semester-long projects for final presentation.

Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management graduate Amanda Allshouse ('11), who joined the class via Zoom in her role as guest-consultant, is a senior manager with the National Basketball Association, the premier professional league for a sport experiencing exponential global growth.

In the introductory class taught by Anaza, students are asked to put themselves in the shoes of team executives in the Women’s NBA, and develop workable solutions to the multifarious challenges that arise over the course of a season, from workplace cohesion to fan engagement to a global pandemic.

“They pick teams with an eye to the sorts of problems they want to try to solve,” said Anaza.

Allshouse’s responsibilities extend beyond the NBA proper to include affiliated entities such as the Women’s NBA; the G League (which serves as the NBA’s research and development laboratory for players, coaches and front-office staff); and the 2K League (an e-sports joint venture with Take-Two Interactive that targets video gamers).

Now, in her ninth year with the NBA, she travels the world overseeing important initiatives and ensuring that the league's partners receive all the benefits to which they're contractually entitled.

A limiting factor is the time-horizon for solving a particular problem. For purposes of the class, it must be amenable to measures that take no more than four months— the duration of a semester—to successfully implement.

“I judge them on the practicality and sustainability of the solutions they offer,” he said.

Student Katherine Cawley had set for herself the goal of creating a more effective marketing program for the WNBA franchise in Los Angeles, the Sparks.

“One of the biggest obstacles to marketing in L.A. is that it's L.A,” advised Allshouse. “It's a huge market, and you have to try to somehow break through the clutter.”

She challenged Cawley to speculate about specific strategies for differentiating a Sparks message from the many others competing for sports fans’ attention in Southern California.

“Is there an opportunity to use the marketing tools in a new and different way?” she asked.

Camryn Adkins proposed boosting fan engagement with the Sparks through the use of digital technology. She cited the deployment of iPads throughout common areas to facilitate mobile ordering of tickets, concessions and branded gear at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"That's the way a lot of venues are going,” said Allhouse. “How can you bring the experience to the fan, as opposed to the fan going to the experience?"

Peyton McDaniels chose to focus on the elevation of player development for the Atlanta Dream. Her favored approach involved hiring a former WNBA player to run the program—a strategy Allshouse applauded.

“It's really smart,” she said. “You're not going to play forever professionally, and you have to think about what your future path will be.”

She pointed to the league-wide programs that already exist within the NBA, WNBA, and G League. She called them “professional pathway programs … so that our players have different options and job-shadowing opportunities to take advantage of.”

Allshouse revealed that her favorite event since coming to work for the NBA has been the Junior NBA program, which brings together teams of 13- and 14-year-olds from eight regions across the United States, and eight more internationally.

“It really shows that, if you’re bonded by the game of basketball, it doesn’t matter whether you speak the same language,” she said.

“You can still communicate with each other just sharing your love of the game.”

Back to Top

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2021

Related Articles