December 21, 2021

Gina Antoniello, Tisch Institute for Global Sport Clinical Assistant Professor, Draws from Life Experience When Teaching the Popular “Champions” Course

While it has been challenging for some higher education courses around the world to deliver real value and a quality learning experience for students in remote learning environments during the pandemic, the “Champions” course, offered by the NYU SPS Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport has taken online learning to the next level.

Initially created by Tisch Institute Associate Dean Vince Gennaro and Daniel Kelly, PhD for the Fall 2020 academic year, the latest version of the course is taught by Gina Antoniello, clinical assistant professor, athlete advocate, and sports communications expert. After earning two Championship rings of in the midst of a team turn-around with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, she brings her own career experience with organizational change and transformational leadership to the classroom discussion.

Can you talk about the structure of the “Champions” course?
The online course combines pre-recorded interviews and live synchronous sessions with leading figures in sports. The pre-recorded portion of the course includes interviews with Peyton Manning; Earvin “Magic” Johnson; Abby Wambach; Alex Rodriguez; former SF Giants GM Bobby Evans; Chelsea FC Chairman Bruce Buck; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell; Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET (Black Entertainment Network), owner of Washington Mystics, and co-owner of Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL); and Tom Coughlin, former head coach of Super Bowl Champion NY Giants.

This year’s live synchronous sessions include: Festus Ezeli, Nigerian American NBA champion; Darius Victor, a professional football player, who was born in a refugee camp in the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire; and Lance Thomas, a 10-year NBA veteran who played for the Brooklyn Nets and was a member of Duke’s National Championship team.

Why is the course so popular?
Because of its online format, students from around the world can join and share different cultural and societal views and perspectives. In addition, we are able to bring exclusive experiences to interact with some of the most revered professional athletes and sports business executives right to our students. Imagine being a student and getting one-on-one time with an NBA Champion in an ask-me-anything environment? Guest speakers can also collaborate and learn from our students as they Zoom in from New York, Madrid, and even Abu Dhabi!

What drives or influences you as you create and teach the course content?
As an academic, I study and teach how the economic, political, and social impacts of activism affect the business of sport—domestically and internationally. The challenging material associated with this course created an atmosphere of respectful deliberation for which I strive. While sometimes challenging to achieve, this classroom culture pays off as students grow comfortable with discussing complex topics and feel empowered to share their views and think for themselves, even (as I encourage) to challenge me.

With “Champions,” I aim to impart communications skills that help students find their voice and grow, not only intellectually, but personally as citizens. Because of the importance I place on this outcome and on operating with social impact, I have been especially gratified by the students who have leaned into the curriculum and have invested in expanding their circles of concern. These experiences have also influenced my research agenda, as I continue to explore sport as a protest platform and the intersection of race, gender, and class within the global business of sport.

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