There was a den of Blue Bears among the Chiefs and 49ers at Super Bowl 54.
Eleven Livingstone College sports management students served as hosts for activities held during Super Bowl 54 weekend in Miami, Florida. According to a school spokesperson, Livingstone and Bethune-Cookman University were the only historically Black colleges and universities selected to participate in Super Bowl Experience — NFL’s interactive football theme park staged at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Livingstone was chosen after an extensive application process. The opportunity is meant to teach the business side of sports and offer insight into what it’s like to run a major sporting event. Dr. Charles Crowley, who accompanied the group, first presented school officials with the experience after previously participating in similar activities during the 2000 and 2004 Super Bowls.
Participating students included Antwann Abernathy, Breanah Brown, Tianna Deberry, Darius Gwynn, Damoni Johnson, Corey Jones, Alfred Patrick Jr., Marcus Thompson, Semaj Williams, Precious Wood and Deonna Young. All of the students were graduating seniors with the exception of senior Corey Jones and sophomore Darius Gwynn.
The group was selected to attend based on academics and engagement. Each had to complete an application, background check and undergo online customer service training.
Students helped fundraise for the $7,000 seven-day trip, with support from the college. The Jan. 29 plane ride to Miami was a first-time experience for many of them. In addition to hosting duties at Super Bowl Experience, they also served as wayfinders inside the stadium on game day.
“I was very pleased with the students. We had a great time,” said Crowley, who is in his second semester as Livingstone’s department chair of sports management, hospitality management and culinary arts. “They got to meet so many people, celebrities and stars. Every day, they saw someone famous.”
School officials say the experience has been a major boost to the sports management program, which boasts 200 students. Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins Sr. noted that these are the types of experiential learning experiences that prepare students for the world.
Chris Davis, assistant professor of sports management and a 2013 Livingstone alum, says there are sports management graduates from Livingstone currently working in the NFL and ones who have interviewed with professional teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
“The students are seeing that if they would do what they are supposed to do, Livingstone will give them all the tools to get where they need to be,” he said.
Crowley added, “We want to make sure we are recognized over other large programs, not just as an HBCU, but as the best students.”