News at Mason
Minor league internship leads Mason student to cross paths with former Heisman Trophy winner
September 6, 2017 / by John Hollis
Woosug Lee’s summer internship in the ticket office of the St. Lucie Mets minor league baseball team was going smoothly, but the George Mason University sport management major quickly saw that something was different after he arrived at the team’s baseball complex one late June morning.
That was the day the organization announced that former University of Florida football star and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow was being promoted to St. Lucie, the New York Mets’ high Class A affiliate in the Florida State League.
“Our ticket office usually opens at 10 a.m., but there was a long line even before then on that day,” Lee recalled, noting the crowd included fans as well as reporters from local media outlets.
“Some people weren’t even baseball fans,” he added. “They just visited the stadium just to see Tebow.”
The buzz around town was nearly palpable, but Lee, a native South Korean with little knowledge of American football, wasn’t sure what to make of the increased interest. He had to research the former NFLer-turned-baseball player on the internet when friends began peppering him about Tebow’s arrival.
“I finally learned that he was a very famous athlete in the country,” Lee said.
Tebow’s arrival and the fan and media circus that followed would play prominently during Lee’s internship. In addition to duties in the team’s ticket office that included processing ticket sales and answering a bevy of daily phone calls regarding game procedures, rules and rosters, Lee was soon charged with analyzing and investigating what came to be known as “The Tebow Effect” on attendance at road games in which Tebow played for the team. The Mets organization wanted to specifically quantify what his presence meant for attendance at opposing stadiums when St. Lucie was on the road.
That entailed researching home attendance figures for the other 11 teams in the Florida State League and contrasting their numbers prior to Tebow’s arrival in St. Lucie and afterwards. Not surprisingly, Lee’s research showed a dramatic spike in attendance in road games in which Tebow played.
It was the kind of site-benefitting project that George Mason sport management interns are asked to complete, said Craig Esherick, the associate professor and associate director of Mason’s Center for Sport Management who served as Lee’s faculty supervisor.
Esherick said the experience will prove beneficial.
“He’s enjoying the internship,” Esherick said of Lee. “It was—as most of these internships are—an opportunity to grow as a professional.”
The internship, which was Lee’s final requirement for his sport management degree, was his second foray in the professional baseball world. He had previously worked for the SK Wyverns in South Korea in 2016. It was his former supervisor there who recommended him to the St. Lucie Mets.
Lee, who also served in the South Korean Army from 2011-13, said he’s keeping an open mind about future plans.
“I’ve really enjoyed working in the baseball field,” he said, “but, if I have a chance, I also want to [work] for a European soccer team in the future.”