DHS taps into sports interest to teach business
De Soto High School is using its own marketing technique to get students interested in the world of sales.
This year, the school is offering a sports and entertainment marketing course geared toward teaching freshmen and sophomores the marketing basics.
Principal Dave Morford said the class was recommended by the state to offer more options to students.
"It used to just be called marketing I," he said. "They looked across the state and enrollment was declining in the class. So, they came up with the idea of how to appeal to the students."
Morford said the sports and entertainment marketing class would still teach mostly basic sales principles, but using companies or ideas familiar to a generation who grew up with mass media and booming sports and entertainment industries.
"They'll study the whole marketing model, but instead of a company on Wall Street, they might study the marketing of the Chiefs, or the Royals, or the T-Bones," he said.
There is one group of about 20 students taking the class this semester. Morford said next semester, DHS will have two sections.
Morford said the class is part of a "strand" of classes the school is trying to develop that could include financial accounting and more advanced marketing principles. A "strand," he said, means developing a full set of courses from beginning to more advanced. With sports and entertainment serving as a beginning course, it could spark interest in students to take more advanced courses in marketing or finances throughout their high school years, he said. Once the high school is able to develop a strand, they can get special funding for vocational courses, he said.
Morford said an advisory group for vocational classes at the school made up of business leaders in the community recommended more finance courses.
"We thought we covered the computers pretty well, but an accounting and marketing piece would be good to offer. They'd like to see kids coming out of high school with a background in those two areas."
Tom Byers is uniquely suited to teach the course this year with two years' experience as a college football coach for Ottawa. He is also one of the assistant football coaches at the high school this year. For his first year, Byers is also teaching accounting, keyboarding and computer applications. He earned a master's in sports administration from Kansas University.
"I was really excited when they said they would be utilizing the sports and entertainment theme for the marketing class," he said. "You apply the business marketing knowledge to whatever field you're in."
Byers said he's planning on having area business professionals in various sports and entertainment fields visit with the students to give them real-life examples of how the marketing industry works. The current curriculum includes how to identify a target market audience, how to package a product or idea and how a company grows.
"It's all new and it's fresh," Byers said. "The kids are the pioneers of something new here at DHS."