More than 165 million Americans, about 70 percent of the population, claim they follow sports. Each year, they pack stadiums and tune in to networks to watch their favorite teams. With a plethora of college teams and professional clubs from the five major sports, it’s no surprise Dallas is considered one of the best sports cities in the country. The games are an integral part of the sports industry, but they’re just a small part of the booming business. Professional athletes, sports marketers, agents and philanthropists from our neighborhood share what it’s really like to work in the industry worth $700 billion globally.
As a young tennis player, Carla Rosenberg wanted to win Wimbledon, then find a cure for multiple sclerosis, the disease her mother has. She didn’t win Wimbledon, nor did she become a medical doctor, but the M Streets neighbor found a position in sports where she could still do meaningful work. In 2012, Rosenberg founded MatchPoint, an agency that specializes in nonprofit management and charity events for professional athletes. “Tennis was my one true love growing up,” she says. “The agency I started was called MatchPoint because of that.” After playing tennis at the University of Illinois, Rosenberg moved back to Dallas, went to grad school and worked for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars. Once she formed MatchPoint, she joined Dallas Influencers in Sports and Entertainment, where she met Kern Egan, President of Americas at Lagardère Plus. The president leased her office space and made MatchPoint part of the grander team through an acquisition in 2018. Rosenberg, a South Africa native, knows the Dallas philanthropic scene and has executed Dirk Nowitzki’s Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic and the Red River Celebrity Softball Game with Roger Clemens, Matthew McConaughey, Toby Keith and other A-list celebrities.
What her day-to-day job is like: There are two sides of what we do. We help athletes with their charitable initiatives, and we execute their fundraising events. For the most part, we run athlete foundations or charities and handle their programming and execute their marquee events. For a charity, a big source of revenue is to have an event — a poker evening, a golf tournament, a gala, etc. We get hired by a client — the athlete, nonprofit or brand — to take their event to another level and incorporate all the strategic elements to help the charity realize a profit and have a first class event.
The most challenging part of her job: The biggest challenge will always be time management and being able to prioritize and communicate effectively to all the groups. We have to communicate to clients, vendors and all different entities. Putting on an event takes a lot of time, and everyone wants it done yesterday.
A positive memory with a client: My first client was Nancy Lieberman. She’s a basketball hall of famer. We do her Dream Ball Gala, which draws a slew of A-list celebrities. We had Ice Cube and Dr. J and raised a million dollars at the Bomb Factory. We started with her 10 years ago. To see what she’s been able to accomplish with events and programming, the impact she’s having in this community and beyond, it’s rewarding to know we played a small part in that.
On growing up in South Africa: I grew up under apartheid. To go from experiencing that and moving to the States and figuring out that’s not how the world functions and operates, I’m glad I have that perspective. The political climate when we were growing up was terrible. Nelson Mandela became president right after we left, but my dad did not know where the country was going to go. He always had an affinity for the States, and he wanted us to thrive here. We all played sports, and he wanted us to have an opportunity. My mom was also diagnosed with MS, and it was more medically advanced here. Everything was handicapped accessible.
What she loves about the neighborhood: Dallas is a great sports town. It has all the major teams and all the minor teams. It’s accessible and affordable. As a whole, it makes it very appealing for someone who works in sports entertainment. A lot of my colleagues live in this area, and they said, “You need to come over.” I’m like, “How did I not move here sooner?” People are cycling, running around, out in their yards. There’s a nice energy.
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
Job title: Senior vice president of charity events and management at Lagardère Plus
Alma mater: University of Illinois and the University of Dallas
Sports hero: Steffi Graf
Position: Four-year tennis player at Illinois
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