NFL Draft in Detroit: U-M experts available to discuss

The NFL Draft will be held April 25-27 in Detroit. University of Michigan experts are available to discuss the impact on the city and surrounding areas, as well as the league’s efforts to grapple with racial disparities and other social issues.

Stacy-Lynn Sant is an assistant professor of sport management at the School of Kinesiology. Her research focuses on understanding how sporting events can advance human rights, inspire community action and spur development. She can address the social and economic impact of events on host communities.

"Hosting the NFL Draft in Detroit after a historic football postseason presents a unique tourism opportunity for the city,- Sant said. "Beyond celebrating the NFL’s new players, it offers Detroit a chance to showcase its attractions, culture and hospitality to a national audience.

"The draft also serves as a powerful platform to highlight pressing social issues such as human trafficking. Awareness campaigns geared to residents and visitors and workshops for the hospitality sector serve to educate communities on the complexities of the issue. These events challenge misconceptions that trafficking is solely an international problem or only involves abduction; they highlight its presence in local communities, empowering individuals to recognize the signs and take action.

"With increased foot traffic in the downtown area, the city’s anti-trafficking initiatives become all the more crucial. By raising awareness and implementing preventive measures in these high-traffic areas, Detroit is demonstrating its commitment to protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring that all visitors enjoy the city safely and responsibly during the NFL Draft.

Chris Rider is a professor of entrepreneurial studies at the Ross School of Business. His research examines the reciprocal relationship between entrepreneurship and societal inequality, and racial disparities in sports. He considers how the NFL Draft rewards those teams that hire and develop employees of color into franchise leaders.

"Pay attention to the third round of the draft, when both the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will draft an additional player,- Rider said. "These picks are special compensation for developing employees of color who are hired by another NFL franchise (for example, the Rams’ Raheem Morris was hired by the Falcons; the 49ers’ Martin Mayhew by the Commanders).

"Note that the 49ers have used such compensatory picks to draft impact players like former Michigan kicker Jake Moody-who kicked the longest field goal in Super Bowl history this past year-with compensatory picks awarded after employees of color were hired by other teams (such as Mike McDaniel, Ron Carthon and DeMeco Ryans). Yet another reason a diverse workforce pays.-

Jan Boehmer is an assistant professor of sport management at the School of Kinesiology and member of the Center for Sport Marketing Research. He investigates the social and economic impact of sport, focusing on data-driven approaches that illustrate how brands affect consumers’ perceptions and behaviors. He can address the growing importance of the NFL Draft spectacle for athletes, teams and brands from a marketing and brand-building perspective.

"With a total unduplicated audience of 54.4 million viewers in the United States alone in 2023, the NFL Draft has become a massive stage for athletes and brands to present themselves,- Boemer said. "The way draftees are portrayed during the three-day event can have a massive impact on their marketability during the early stages of their professional career.

"If a player experiences a draft-day slide and falls to a later round, he doesn’t only miss out on a bigger paycheck from his new team-but also on endorsement opportunities. On the other hand, relatively unknown players can gain massive followings even before their professional career has started, boosting their own brand and increasing the potential for sponsorships. And in times of NIL, some players might even bring their existing deals to the table, further increasing the value of draft-related exposure.-

Michal (Mike) Lorenc is a clinical assistant professor of sport management at the School of Kinesiology and member of the Center for Sports Venues & Real Estate Development and the Center for Sport Marketing Research. A 20-year veteran of Google and a co-owner of AFC Ann Arbor, a minor league soccer club, he can discuss the impact of technology on the sports industry and fandom, the business of sports betting, and digital and social media marketing in sports.

"Hosting the NFL Draft is a significant event that can positively impact the perception and reputation of Detroit on several fronts,- Lorenc said. "It shines a spotlight on the city as a center for major sporting events, showcasing its capacity to host large-scale, high-profile events. This visibility can alter national and international perceptions of Detroit, highlighting its attractions, infrastructure and community spirit, which may have been previously overshadowed by narratives of economic struggles or decline.

"Successful execution of the NFL Draft, especially after highly positive coverage of the Detroit Lions’ deep postseason run, can further strengthen the city and region’s reputation within the sports industry as a reliable and enthusiastic host-potentially paving the way for future sporting and entertainment events. This, in turn, can foster a sense of pride among residents and enhance civic engagement.-