How many people in life get to turn a dream into a reality and do something extraordinary? That’s exactly what I did last summer and it transformed me. I was unfulfilled emotionally, academically, geographically and professionally. In February 2017, I ended a nearly six year relationship (we are still very close friends) and for the first time in my adult life I was living on my own and sober. I moved to Philadelphia to pursue my Masters of Science in Sport Business degree in June 2016, and let’s just say it never felt like home. I came here wanting to work for the Phillies or some shit like that, but midway through my first year I realized that my passion actually was academia and research. But because I’m in a program tailored towards building sport industry professionals, I was finding the opportunity to pursue my passion of research difficult.
In my sport business program coursework, we kept circling around this idea of fan experience. With the exception of a Pearl Jam concert, the best fan experiences I’d ever had before were all at baseball games. So I came up with this crazy idea to take a cross country road trip to half (15) of the Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums. It was intended to be this academic masterpiece with the goal of getting published to strengthen my PhD credentials down the road. I was going to blog about my research on the fan experience at each ballpark, share my travel and baseball experiences on social media, build my brand and turn in a reflection of the experience as a final paper. The proposal and idea was written in a way to give the project a lot of room to change and grow, and did it ever…
My proposal got accepted mid-way through May 2017 and the next three weeks were spent building this blog (we will get to that soon), creating a brand and marketing plan, branding my car, starting my Instagram (with all 143 followers that were linked through my Facebook) and Twitter accounts, and planning my travel. On June 6th, 2017, I set out on the journey that would change my life forever.
Everywhere I went, I met people and shared my story. I stopped in Yellowstone, and it changed my life. Although I was researching fan experience at MLB ball parks—and loving every minute of it—the moment the game was over, I wanted to get lost in another National Park . By the end of June, my blog had about 2,200 views and my Instagram following was near 30,000. In Colorado I did my first radio interview, and the momentum kept growing from there. Soon the goal of 15 stadiums changed, and on the last day of MLB’s regular season—I sat atop the Green Monster in Boston after having driven to all 30 ballparks. Note: I still have not written about my experience there or at #29 Yankee stadium, but there are awesome pics on my Instagram. I also went to an ALCS game at Yankee Stadium!
I concluded my trip on October 6th after 30,000+ miles driven, through 43 states, Canada (twice because I missed the first game), Mexico (I crossed the Rio Grande), and 23 National Parks. Over 150 news stories, across every media medium, had shared my story in nine different countries (I will get links on here soon, I promise). Even though this is my first post since the end of September 2017, my blog traffic has been going crazy. In December 2017 I hit over 180,000 hits and on this 12th day of January 2018, I am already at 160,000+ hits for the month. Oh yea, and my Instagram following is nearing 80,000.
I have been a busy bee since I got home. It was rough for the first month, especially since I started classes immediately. Understandably, I found it incredibly difficult to wind down from an amazing four months of traveling. It was impossible to sit still, even though all I wanted to do was relax. All the while, I’m trying to process this crazy experience and figure out how to best move forward. This blew up beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and it transformed me and my future. So now, after months of processing, planning, and retrospection, I am excited to share with you what’s next…
I’m just about done with my MS in Sport Business, and originally the plan was to pursue a PhD in the same field, but things have changed. Through social media and my blog, I have this amazing platform and have become a digital storyteller, sharing my experiences with people across the world. I have this voice that people want to hear and it’s an amazing thing. I’ll conclude my degree in a couple weeks and am excited to announce that I will be pursuing my PhD in Media Research and Practice at University of Colorado Boulder this upcoming fall.
I want to become an expert on blogging as an emerging media and new form of journalism. Additionally, I want to focus on digital storytelling (especially through Instagram as a lens) and use my experiences and data I’ve collected and will continue to collect over the course of my Doctoral degree. My hope is that I become some kind of blogging and Instagram guru and can inspire future generations of bloggers and students who like to think outside the box and want to create their own path.
Oh yes, and this summer….I will be backpacking through Europe for 40 days, starting with Amsterdam on 5/31. Literally, all I know is where I fly into and when I plan on leaving…the rest will figure itself out!
I cannot wait to share more with you in the very near future. Also, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support.
That’s what Andy said!
This is the original “What’s this all about”
Hey there! My name is Andy Sturt, and I am a graduate student at Temple University in the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM). I am currently studying to get my MS in Sport Business with an emphasis on marketing.
This summer, I had planned to be involved in a bunch of local sports leagues to keep myself busy and make some new friends in Philly. However, I am not the most athletic guy, and I tore my quad in the third week of my recreational softball league. This put me in quite the pickle because I did not want to spend my summer laying in bed and eating Philly cheesesteaks.
Throughout the first year of my coursework here at Temple, a recurring theme in my classwork was fan experience and fan value. So the wheels started to turn…How could I get the hell out of Philly, while doing something that would benefit my future and count towards my degree?
What if…I went city to city on an epic road trip visiting a bunch of different MLB stadiums to analyze and compare my experiences at each? Besides, what baseball fan has not dreamed of spending their summer touring the country watching baseball in a bunch of different stadiums?
I began to plan, and just a few days ago, my project got approved. This blog is going to share my journey, through baseball and beyond. There will be something here for everyone.
For those that love to travel, get ready to travel with me throughout the country. Foodies will get to read about my dining experiences, from the obscure places in the middle of nowhere to famous institutions across the nation. Baseball lovers will get to share my detailed, thought provoking, and personal experiences at some of the greatest ballparks in the country.
New friends will be made and I will reunite with some I haven’t seen in 20 years. I am going to visit places I have never seen, and return to some of my old stomping grounds. Get ready to share some candid and intimate moments as we laugh, cry, smile, triumph and fail on this journey together.
On the “Andy Said What” page you will find my blog entries. “MLB fan experience” will feature my official stadium reviews–which are currently backlogged and will be caught up on after the season concludes!
Instagram and Twitter will share videos and pictures of all things from baseball, food, scenery and more! Follow me @WhatWhatAndy
To read an abridged version of the accepted research proposal please click here!
If you think what I am doing is cool, please share!
I look forward to sharing this journey with you, and let’s play ball!
DISCLAIMER: ALL THOUGHTS/STATEMENTS/STORIES ON THIS WEBSITE ARE MINE ALONE. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY SHARED BY ANY OF MY AFFILIATES.
Also, do not assume that because I have a great or an unpleasant experience somewhere that you will do the same. I encourage you to check all these places out for your self and form your own judgments!