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New Sport Faculty Set High Standards for STHM Teaching and Research

By: Tate Kay and Angie Bazzano
First Published: January 19, 2022
Topics: Faculty, Sport, STHM School

In time for the fall 2021 semester, the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) welcomed two new faculty members, Dr. Bradley Baker (MS ’12, PhD FOX ’17) and Dr. Jonathan Howe.

An alumnus of STHM and the Fox School of Business, Baker earned an MS in sport and recreation management in 2012 and a PhD in business administration, with a concentration in tourism and sport. He teaches data analytics courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Baker spent time as a fencing coach at UMass Amherst as well as for the Temple Owls and has served on the board of directors for U.S. Fencing.

Howe received his PhD in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University. A Texas native, he earned a BS in communication studies and an MS in sport management from the University of Texas at Austin. Howe was also a communications intern for the African American Male Research Initiative and a student manager for the Texas Longhorns football team. He began teaching a graduate DEI course in spring 2022.

STHM graduate student Tate Kay (MSSB ’23), administrative extern for the department of Sport and Recreation Management, recently sat down with Baker and Howe to discuss their academic paths to Temple and research interests.

KAY: Dr. Baker, what led you to Temple, as a student and a professor?

Baker: In 2003 at UMass–Amherst I started coaching in the fencing program and fell in love with coaching. When I came to Temple to coach in 2004 I decided to get a master’s in sport and recreation management at STHM. Several of the faculty then encouraged me to pursue a PhD. After graduation, I stepped away from academia for a few years to work at a start-up focused on artificial intelligence. Then I joined the faculty at UMass–Amherst for two years. The opportunity came up to return to Temple, back into the STHM family, just in a different role.

KAY: Dr. Howe, what was the draw of Temple for you?

Howe: Temple has a strong reputation in the sport management discipline and in the industry overall. It’s a place where great scholars want to be, myself included. Being in Philadelphia is a huge asset, with access to the connections here, given the numerous prominent teams in professional and collegiate sports. The potential to create great partnerships or build existing ones within the Temple community is unmatched, as are the opportunities to expand some of the great work already happening within the program.

KAY: Dr. Baker, why did you transition from computer/mathematical sciences to sport management?

Baker: The shift was driven by my shift to coaching, when I was doing a lot of text manipulation, building some language models—very core computer science/machine learning type of research. Coaching full-time at Temple came with tuition remission, and Temple has a great sports management program and a great sport psych program—the two paths I was deciding between. Coaching got me into the sports realm, as more than a serious hobby, and then I shifted again into academia, focusing on the research and teaching.

KAY: What are your respective research interests?

Baker: My research applies techniques from machine learning to problems in sport consumer behavior and sport analytics. I’m trying to marry my interests where sport and technology intersect. So it’s a lot about brand-building and identity formation in mediated spaces and in digital spaces. I focus on social media but also other sporting technology such as esports.

Howe: My research covers issues at the intersections of race, sport and education—especially the experiences and identity of Black male college athletes, as well as looking at college athletes as more than just athletes. I’m also interested in racial diversity within collegiate athletics, specifically the experiences of Black coaches and administrators trying to ascend the ladder. Many of them are stifled at lower-level positions and are not afforded the same opportunities as some of their (white) counterparts.

KAY: Dr. Howe, what was it like working with a large college football program like the University of Texas?

Howe: It was a great experience and vital for me as a researcher to see the ins and outs of one of the top revenue-generating programs in the nation. Spending time with the team became the spark for my master’s thesis research on African American college football coaches. Charlie Strong, the former Texas head coach, had a predominantly Black coaching staff, which is rare in college football outside of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Because of my position with the team, I was able to interview multiple coaches across the U.S. to collect data about their experiences.

KAY: Dr. Baker, now that you’re back at Temple, what do you hope to accomplish?

Baker: Temple has an environment with resources and the space to do good work, especially in digital sport management. I’m hoping to help advance our understanding in that space. There’s always something new with technology that inspires the question, “How will this fundamentally change how we manage sport?” Research is sort of a playground where, ideally, you get to examine things that translate back into the real world. That’s what gets me energized for my research. At STHM, we can take chances and do research that ultimately matters.

KAY: What about you Dr. Howe? What are your goals while at Temple?

Howe: One of my goals here is to bring a different perspective to Temple. As STHM’s only Black male faculty member, I’m excited to share a different perspective through my experiences—an outlook I hope will resonate with students on topics that are timely and culturally pertinent. Long term, I want to increase the diversity of the students here at Temple.

KAY: Lastly, what advice would you both give for aspiring sport and recreation management professionals?

Baker: The [sport] space is always changing. I’d say: Be adaptable. Careers are nonlinear—my background is in computer science and applied mathematics. Even if you stay within sport, things are always evolving, and you want to adapt and evolve with them. Openness and willingness to change are the key—actively seeking change, understanding it and incorporating it.

Howe: Being cautiously skeptical stems from my epistemological standpoint. I’m a critical scholar—always questioning things, seeking to challenge the structures in place that perpetuate inequity. There’s often no one thinking critically about some of what we’re doing. You need to ask questions, play devil’s advocate and eliminate “group think” to create a more equitable and representative system in the sport industry overall.

As the spring semester begins, STHM students will benefit from Baker’s and Howe’s unique perspectives through their innovative work in the classroom. And as scholars, they will continue to contribute more impactful research in the field of sport.