Not every lesson is taught in a classroom, sometimes you have to take the field 

The surprising connection between business strategy and football

The ECON 240 class learning about business strategy on the field of play

Inspiring students to learn more today and in the future requires imagination and collaboration.

When Dr. Gaia Rancati, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing considered methods of teaching business strategy in her Business & Managerial Economics class, she reached out to Allegheny football coach Richard Nagy to brainstorm ideas on how to drive home the meaning and significance of strategy in every area of life. Why football?  Dr. Rancati shared her idea, “I believe that the connection with a professor and a coach can help to engage more students.  There is no sport like football with the ability to put business strategy into practice.”

According to Coach Nagy, “I was amazed at how our model of running a football program fit what Dr. Rancati was teaching,” he continued, “She has really made me think and examine some of the things that we do. She is a great resource for me moving forward. I also really appreciate her enthusiasm and passion and how she teaches and inspires her students.”

The student reaction has been very positive.  Football team captain and economics student Zach Wilson had this to say about the surprising connection between business strategy and football, “I never really made a connection with football and business strategy until Dr. Rancati showed me that they  basically have the same ideology. Looking at the bigger picture of business and football, it is important to understand that every level of the business needs to do their part in order for the firm to be successful. This relates directly to football because each person out of the 11 on the field needs to do their individual job for the desired outcome.”

He continued, “Another surprising connection is the concept of competitive advantage. In the business world, you must have a quality, product, service, etc., that is perceived by the customers as better than the competition. This competitive advantage makes your specific firm more successful in some way, whether that’s total profit, a relevant position for your audience, or in football terms, more wins than other teams.  Football strategy and business strategy are primarily the same in many ways and both aim to be better than the competition surrounding them. GO GATORS!”

Dr. Rancati takes the field with the Allegheny College football team to prepare for the coin toss, Oct. 19, 2019. Photo by Ed Mailliard.

Dr. Rancati was selected for the coin toss at the Oct. 19th football game where the Gators won a 49-0 victory –demonstrating that a little strategy can go a long way.  A native of Italy, Dr. Rancati, when asked about the differences between the European version of football, what Americans call soccer, and American football, she exclaimed, “Italy has its soccer history and the U. S. has great football!”

Gaia Rancati, Ph.D.

Dr. Rancati is the assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing at Allegheny College, a Visiting Professor – IULM University Milan, a Professor – IED Milan and the Head of Retail – Immersionneuro Los Angeles.  She is the winner of the Woman of Excellence 2019 Award for Customer Experience and Retail from the World Economic Forum.

Richard Nagy

Richard Nagy is a veteran coach with more than 30 years of experience at the Division I and III levels, as its 35th head football coach. Nagy, who served as an assistant coach and eventually held the title of associate head coach for the Gators in the 1990s, returns to Meadville after most recently serving as the defensive coordinator at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.