Not all sports fans are suited for the business of sports.
Just ask Melvin Lewis, former NFL professional turned professor.
“You have to be willing to make many sacrifices. Sports professionals often don’t get to be fans. I knew this was the business for me when my curiosity about the industry exceeded my simply wanting to be a fan,” said Lewis, a University of Alabama assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.
Known as Dr. Lewis to his students, he teaches sports business management and draws from his years in the NFL to prepare students for professional careers.
At the NFL, Lewis made a point to develop relationships with administrators, players, coaches and staff, as well as those outside the organization. He credits these relationships for much of his professional and personal growth during his career.
“I’ve made an effort to pass this simple, yet powerful, advice on to the future generation of sports professionals,” he says.
During his professional career, Lewis worked with both the Los Angeles Raiders and Buffalo Bills, where his charge was to create a valuable product that would win games, generate revenue and fuel the passion of fans.
“I am extremely grateful to the NFL,” he says. “My tenure there enabled me to gain experience and build relationships within management, medical, finance, sales and marketing, and ethical issues. That experience gives me more to offer our students.”
Today, his sports business management master’s students get to work with sports industry professionals, including members of the Leadership Council, which is made up of industry influencers who provide students with guidance and networking opportunities.
Giving back, mentoring, and providing professional guidance are what Lewis finds most rewarding in teaching. “When students can link their experience in the classroom to their professional careers,” he says, “I know we are doing something right.”
Lewis is a three-time UA graduate, with a doctorate in health education and health promotion, a master’s in health education, and bachelor’s in athletic training.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.