Updated: Aug 24
By John Bonney, Next-Gen Leader, Marketing Strategy Student Associate, New York Knicks and MSG Sports | Sports Biz Camps Fellow
It was only a year ago when I was a freshman participating in the inaugural Hiring Insights Expo by Sports Biz Camps in 2021. As I am entering my junior year, there has been an extensive amount of growth since my spark into the sports business industry that I can reflect on. I was always passionate about pursuing a career in sports with the dreams of becoming an NBA agent when I gained extensive experience in NBA player development with Pro Hoops NYC. Since age 15, I had the opportunity to assist workouts for over 60 NBA, WNBA and Overseas athletes especially during the NBA Draft. Basketball was always a passion of mine so I took advantage of every learning opportunity to be a sponge and become a better athlete. This also translated because I knew if I couldn’t play in college or professionally, I would stay ahead of the curve to maneuver effectively into the business side of sports. This mindset allowed me to be curious and take advantage of my resources that I built as an athlete and ask career questions to anyone I came across in sports whether it was trainers, agents, or brand consultants. However, I was seeking the next big step to obtain professional opportunities in the industry and Sports Biz Camps happened to come across my feed on Tiktok! I had no idea about the numerous career pathways on the business side of sports until Sports Biz Camps exposed me to it within three days.
A $150 donation from sponsors and the generosity to invest in students funded and accelerated 36 passionate college students’ future for the better. My eye opening experience with Sports Biz Camps immediately triggered my passion to be a part of their mission on increasing social mobility for students through education, while increasing representation in the sports industry. Every single contact and conversation that I obtained from the Hiring Insights Expo was the next step to my professional development. $150 and genuine conversations is all it takes.
Take It and Run With It
My name is John Bonney, a junior at SUNY Albany who reigns from Brooklyn, New York and Ghana. I am an aspiring sports business professional who is returning to Sports Biz Camps after wrapping up my summer internship with the New York Knicks. I entered the Hiring Insights Expo as a college freshman with the plans of breaking my foot in the door. My intentions were very clear about any professional opportunities that arise, I will take it and run with it. After receiving access to over 150 industry professionals and cheat codes on navigating my way into the industry, I landed my first sports business fellowship with one of SBC’s sponsors, Navigate, during Summer 2021. As a Consulting and Marketing Fellow, I became well-rounded as I rotated through the market research, business development and marketing departments. I maximized my summer experience with Navigate by building genuine relationships through 1:1s and saying “Yes'' to every client project that I can work on throughout the summer. This initiative by Sports Biz Camps and Navigate accelerated my career and was my first exposure to working in marketing partnerships from the agency side of sports. I learned that there were three buckets in partnerships (sales, account management, and business solutions) and it became my priority to learn those avenues to improve my chances in a partnerships career after graduation.
Immediately after I got the ball rolling, I strategized a three year college plan to obtain those essential expertises while exposing myself to different areas of sports. My personal objective is to develop a versatile professional toolkit by the time I am a 2024 graduate. As I arrived at SUNY Albany during my sophomore year, I immediately volunteered my time in the Athletic Department and managed Men’s Basketball to learn the business of collegiate athletics. In addition to that, I landed my next internship at Sports Biz Camps to continue the mission that personally aligned with me. As an Alumni Engagement Fellow, I spearheaded our alumni outreach efforts, strategic social media content, internal communication, and Free Agent Initiative which exposes and markets our SBC students to career opportunities from our sponsors. This experience allowed me to improve my personal brand while developing my contacts with our students, board of directors, and our fourteen sponsors. I had the opportunity to activate five major programs for our college students: CSM Get Ahead Before Graduation, Internship Insights presented by Playfly Sports, Careers In Sports Media presented by Fox Sports, and the Hiring Insights Expo presented by Revel XP and the Charlotte Difference Makers Fellowship. My mission became beyond me when Patrick Stack and Lana Truese asked me “How do I want to change the world?” I knew I wanted to help fellow college students win and become career ready along with increasing representation.
Sports Biz Camps helped land my next move while I was interning, MLB On Deck Sales Program. This eight-week winter program built my sales etiquettes as it taught me revenue generation in ticket sales. This was a crucial next step in my professional development because I learned the full sales pipeline when selling different products; full season memberships, groups and premiums. Additionally, my group and I collaborated and presented an award winning theme night proposal on behalf of the Toronto Blue Jays. I strategically used this experience to learn the sales avenue and it actually helped me land my next move!
As Summer 2022 was arriving, Sports Biz Camps was persistent about helping me land a big summer internship to gain a different expertise. I went through an intense two month summer application process which taught me how to weigh my options at a fast paced. The pressure surely wasn’t easy, but it was a great situation to be in as my chances of landing my next internship was significantly high due to strategic networking, advocates and my personal brand. Ultimately, I landed my next role at MSG Sports and the New York Knicks in their student associate program, which was a goal that I set for myself in Summer 2021. I became a Knicks Marketing Strategy Student Associate, where I assisted in strategically developing marketing campaigns for the upcoming 2022-23 NBA Season. My mindset going into this internship was inspired by Jay Z’s My First Song, to treat every project as my first project and rely on the professional toolkit that I built from my previous experiences to do good work. At MSG, I took advantage of their internal network and my downtime to network horizontally and vertically throughout different departments by scheduling daily lunches, coffee chats and 1:1s. I enjoyed getting hands-on experience within their brand strategy, Jalen Brunson’s Introduction to New York, and their influencer marketing strategy. Gaining marketing expertise from the NBA professional team side of sports will be an essential avenue that I will leverage for years to come.
Fueling A Future Takes A Village
Not only has Sports Biz Camps have invested into my career readiness, but they have invested into my education. I truly could not have accelerated at this pace if it wasn’t for the scholarships that mitigated my financial burden and allowed me to tap into my potential. Patrick Stack took the initiative to start a 23.7 Mile Campaign to donate $100 for every mile he ran during a marathon towards my education, crazy right? This initiative broke me into tears as I witnessed the amount of industry professionals willing to invest into my future which resulted in a $3,000 scholarship. Through Sports Biz Camps, I have been able to build genuine relationships with countless advocates and sponsors who always kept me in mind. This often led me into opportunities where I tend to be at the right place at the right time. For example, I was assisting the launch of our new Charlotte Difference Makers Fellowship and one 15 minute conversation led to Dr Pepper and 23XI Racing jumping on board with my journey by fueling my future with a $5,000 scholarship! I always had the plan, but SBC gave me the platform to build social capital!
John is a curious Junior Business Student at SUNY, University at Albany and an aspiring sports business professional with a demonstrated history of working in the sports and entertainment industry. He is skilled in Partnerships, Client Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Market Research, Content Storytelling and Relationship Building. He has a strong desire to positively uplift those around me and my community. He enjoys using his sports and business acumen to mentor young student-athletes to become future leaders and expand their universe for the bigger purpose beyond sports.
LISTEN JOHN ON THIS. with Shauna Griffiths