More than 400 students gathered Friday at the annual Michigan Sport Business Conference to hear from several speakers prominent in the field. Created by undergraduates in the School of Kinesiology and the Ross School of Business, the conference is now in its fourth year.

Jaymee Messler, president of the sports media platform The Players’ Tribune, delivered the afternoon keynote address, where she discussed her company’s unique take on sports media and gave advice for young women looking for careers in the sports industry.

Messler said the goal of her online publication is to give athletes the opportunity to tell their story in a way that they would not be able to with traditional media. Founded by former MLB player Derek Jeter, the site provides athletes the chance to directly tell their own stories through a variety of mediums, whether articles, videos or other formats.

“Each athlete is paired with an editor and if there’s something specific that the athlete wants to talk about, the editor will work with them to transcribe their conversation,” she said.

Messler said this kind of relationship is built on trust.

“Because they know how that’s going to be, their guard is down and they’re a lot more open,” she said. “Nothing goes up without the athlete’s approval.”

Messler said people are beginning to see The Players’ Tribune as an alternative sports news site and not as a much as a direct competitor to traditional media.

“We do look at ourselves as a complement to the media, not in any way, shape or form a replacement,” she said. “Now that we’ve been around for a little while, it’s clear that we aren’t going to be a threat.”

Messler also gave advice to women aspiring to join the male-dominated field of executive-level sports management. She emphasized the importance of having confidence and looking to established women as mentors.

“I would just say, be proactive, be confident, be yourself,” she said. “Think about what you’re passionate about and what experiences you want to have. Look for people like me in the industry and use them as a resource. Look for mentors.”

On the sports industry as a whole, Messler said she is pleased with the changes she has seen in regard to opportunities for women.

“One thing that I’m very happy to see is that there are a lot more jobs and opportunities available for women today then when I first started getting into this industry,” she said.

Business sophomore Jenn Smith said she appreciated hearing from a woman in power within the sports industry.

“I thought it was really helpful just to see a woman in a powerful position speaking to us,” she said. “In the Business School you don’t get to see a lot of women that are in those positions that you can actually talk to and look up to.” 

Correction appended: The headline and first paragraph of this story have been updated to reflect the involvement of both the Ross School of Business and the School of Kinesiology.

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