Howard University's Summer Sports Management Camp participants tour the Entertainment & Sports Arena. The one-week camp was designed to expose DCPS students to careers in sport management. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The Washington Informer)
Howard University's Summer Sports Management Camp participants tour the Entertainment & Sports Arena. The one-week camp was designed to expose DCPS students to careers in sport management. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The Washington Informer)

As sports and athletics have become more and more popular, it has created a greater demand for more young people to entertain an interest in the business behind the games. 

Once mostly dominated by former athletes, coaches and media professionals, sports management has taken on a life of its own through the billions of dollars being spent on all levels, from youth sports to the pros.

There is a saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.”  

That is why Ricky Clemons came up with the idea of the Howard University Sport Management Camp, powered by Events DC and the HU Department of Health, Human Performance and Leisure Studies (HHPLS). 

“During my time at Major League Baseball, I was involved with the RBI program,” explains Clemons, a lecturer in the sport management program at Howard University. “I realized that there was a need to get more Blacks and minorities in sports. When I came to Howard and started teaching, I saw where there was a need to take advantage of the sports opportunities for young people here in the DMV. I found out the D.C. Government had grants available for new or existing programs in sports for young people across the city. I applied for the grant and it was approved.” 

Using a team effort from the DC Parks and Recreation, Events DC and the HHPLS, Clemons was able to make the camp a reality. 

Young people, ages 13 to 22, participated in a week-long camp that exposed the campers to the broad sport management field. The campers were introduced to speakers from the various sports entities on the opportunities from ticket sales, communications, catering security, athletic training and security among the many options. 

The Howard Sport Management Camp, powered by Events DC was born to give students the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes operations and things that make events successful. 

“We are honored to have been a part of this venture,” said Lawrence Hamm, senior Director for Business Development for sports and entertainment for Events DC. “The key to this was getting it off the ground. We are happy to be a part of turning Ricky’s dream vision to reality.” 

In addition, the campers had an opportunity to visit or tour five major local athletic facilities: Capital One Arena; Audi Field; Nationals Park; Entertainment & Sports Arena and the Howard University Athletics facilities. 

During the tours, the campers learned about career and job opportunities, ranging from game operations to concessions. 

As a special bonus to the campers, Deborah Johnson introduced them to Esports, one of the fastest growing trends in sports gaming. They competed daily and had a chance to visit the Esports Facility at Capital One Arena. 

“The combination of sport management and Esports exposed them to employment opportunities in such as sales and design,” explained Johnson, who started the Esports program at Howard in 2021 and has been teaching at the University for over five decades. She goes on, “There are things like gaming codes, design and game management that they learn through the paralleling of the two components (sport management and esports).” 

 “This was an amazing opportunity to learn about sports management and esports,” noted Queen Ogunshakin, one of the campers. “I learned so much about the Esports team at Howard University, and the various careers and industries that intersect with sports such as security, food and beverage, and sales. It was an honor to be a participant in this camp and I appreciate this experience whole-heartedly.” 

Torry Dawkins is the father of Tyler, 17, a participant in the camp. For him, there were numerous benefits. 

“My son was very impressed with the camp and what he was introduced to,” said Dawkins, director of DMV Hoops Academy. “Each day he came home with new information that he learned. The camp gave the campers a different perspective and that is, that you do not have to be in the game, to be a part of the game.” 

For Zoren Carter, one of the youngest campers at 15, the experience holds special meaning for her. 

“I plan on being the manager for my team schools this year,” said Zoren Carter, a sophomore volleyball player at D.C. International. “My mother signed me up for it and I thought it would be good to see what it was all about. There were so many things that I learned about sports and how things are done that I never thought of. The most impressive thing was the information that we got from the people who did the tours of the stadiums and arenas.” 

When assessing the first-year program, Clemons said that it took a team effort and he cites individuals like Salih Williams of Deanwood Recreation and Rob Nickens of Kennedy Recreation for being vital to the recruitment of the campers. 

“Without Mr. (Salih) Williams getting the students from Ward 7 and Ward 8 and Coach Rob helping us out, we would not have been able to pull this off,” Clemens said.

“For it to be the first year and have 25 campers exceeded expectations. The campers were engaged and got more exposure than they could have imagined. We had participants from each quadrant of the city, including Wards 7 and 8.  That was especially important to me personally because I know how important it is to include that into this plan. I have a personal vested interest as I live in Ward 7 and was recently the victim of a drive by shooting, but it never factored in my mission to start this program.” 

As for the future, Clemons said he hopes the program continues to grow.

 “Next year, we plan to increase the numbers and add more to their experiences.” 

Join the Conversation


  1. The article by Ed Hill on the DC youth sport mgmt camp was outstanding and informative. Great news events such as this story line should be more often told in this outlet and all others in the DMV. Good job Informer.

  2. This is a great article! Mr Hill and Mr Clemons have changed many lives including mine and this shows that our community can thrive even off the field! Love it

  3. Thanks Denise and Ed for your coverage of the HU sport management camp. Events DC and Howard University were excellent partners. Together we will do it again – bigger and better.

  4. This was a very heart warming and eye opening article, on what can happen when their is a connected effort to expose the youth to how a job can lead to more steps called a career.

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