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Matthew Berry joins business class as expert guest speaker

A crowd of students in chairs watching a presenter on a screen.
Dylan Pichnarcik / THE GATEPOST

By Adam Levine

Sports Editor

Matthew Berry, writer, columnist, and fantasy sports expert, joined Business Professor Alex Rikleen’s course, “The Business of Fantasy Sports,” as a guest speaker on Zoom April 2.

Rikleen is teaching this course for the fifth consecutive spring semester and it is a required class for the sports management major and an elective for the minor.

He said this is a unique course he created and, to his understanding, there is only one similar course in the country, but it is not offered as frequently as his.

Rikleen began the class with an introduction to the unit - the industry of analysis - and how sports analysis differs from fantasy sports analysis.

Fantasy sports are games, based off of real sports, in which a fan poses as a team’s general manager and field manager to build a roster to create a team with the greatest statistical production, according to Britannica.

Berry’s extensive résumé in the industry includes his role as the senior fantasy analyst at ESPN for 15 years and, most recently, the host of “Fantasy Happy Hour” and "Fantasy Football Pregame” on NBC Sports and an analyst on “Football Night in America” and “Sunday Night Football Final.”

Berry is also a The New York Times best-selling author - “Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who's Lived It - and founder of numerous fantasy analysis sites - including his current venture “Fantasy Life.”

Berry and Rikleen led a conversation about the ongoing growth of the fantasy sports industry, Berry’s role in it, and how students can learn from him.

“I'm incredibly grateful for the world of fantasy sports - to the game of fantasy sports. It's given me, honestly, almost everything. … I believe that it's my job to leave fantasy sports in a better place than I found it because it has given so much to me,” Berry said.

He said his move from his position at ESPN to NBC was both to take a step forward in his career and also to grow the game of fantasy sports.

Berry said, “The more that fantasy sports grows, the more popular it becomes. There's a trickle down effect to me.”

Part of Berry’s career advice is “get good at what you’re doing and people will find you.”

He said no matter the field you want to go into, the most important advice is becoming good at that role and being ready for the opportunity to monetize it and pursue it as a career.

“At some point, all of you watching this and listening to this, you will get your shot. … And when you get your shot, you want to be ready for it,” Berry said.

Rikleen said, “I hope listening to Mr. Berry describe all the different directions he's building his many businesses helped the students to realize the opportunity provided by the fantasy and betting industry - this is a massive space that is still mostly unexplored. That combines well with his other main message, that if interested and motivated students pick their niche and focus on ‘getting good,’ they will be able to make it.”

Marketing Department Chair Michael Harrison said, “Having a guest speaker who is renowned in the Fantasy Sports industry reinforces what Professor Rikleen teaches in the class and hopefully generates a sense of excitement for students. Getting that real-world perspective can be an invaluable learning opportunity for students.”



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