Dare to Dream!

“Dare to Dream”

It’s a well-known statement that, often, is quite truthful: “When one door closes? Another opens.”

That’s the Sports Business Academy story. Had the original plan materialized introducing underserved students to a learning pathway focused on the business side of sports? There would have been a SLAM charter school planted a few years ago in the Denver public school district. That effort failed for a variety of reasons but opened a door to Jefferson County and Arvada High School.

Credit goes to two men. Alex Tamargo and Steve Bell. Tamargo is SLAM’s founder and grew up in inner-city Miami. The affable guy was a good athlete, played college baseball and, after college, returned to his hometown neighborhood as a teacher, coach and principal.

It was the time educational reform advocates were seeing benefits of “Thematic-curriculum” schools focused on arts, science, technology, international studies and other  disciplines. Meeting kids where interests and talents lie. What a concept. Tamargo was trying to inspire an inner-city school when the light bulb went off. “Why not a sports-thematic curriculum that teaches kids the business side of the robust sports industry?  That was about a decade ago. Today, the successful SLAM charter network has schools around the country. However, the SLAM charter crew in Colorado fell short of its goal. What a blessing.

Because a door, thanks to Steve Bell, flung wide open in Jefferson County.  The Chief Operating Officer for the state’s second-largest (86,000) school district is a former banker, educator and coach. The Colorado native realized the value of a sports-thematic curriculum and challenged us to bring it to Arvada High and the district. Bell’s clarion call inspired the creation of the non profit Sports Business Academy. Its passion is working with school districts, identifying under-resourced schools desiring new learning pathways and delivering SBA’s relevant, rigorous and fun project-based curriculum. Why not plant seeds about careers in the sports industry whether students are sports fans or not? It’s more than a game. It’s big business. 

The American sports industry is huge. According to Forbes it’s $73.5 billion annually and growing. Careers abound in many sectors: management, marketing, health/wellness, journalism (my path) and coaching. As the Sports Business Academy embarks on this journey with Arvada High, on behalf of SBA directors and staff, we invite you to follow the progress.

Research shows curriculum engaging students in relevant project-based experiences moves the achievement needle in the right direction. Utilizing projects, field trips, guest speakers, internships and other interesting experiences, SBA will expose students to the fun, prosperous and gigantic sports industry and its abundant pathways to success beyond school. 

Life and its lessons. The charter school door was slammed shut. Another opened. The Sports Business Academy has arrived at Arvada High. Founded it 1990, it’s an old and proud school with a new spirit encouraging students to dare to dream things have changed. There’s no reason SBA can’t lead the way.

-Mark McIntosh



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