As the founder and director of the University’s Center for
International Sport Business (CISB), Curt gives business students an unparalleled global perspective of the sport industry.
His longtime love of the Games and professional connections
to international sports figures provide an educational backstage pass into how major world sporting events such as the
Olympics and FIFA World Cup operate, and how industry
leaders have turned their passion for sports into stellar careers.
Curt’s love of sports began back in his roots growing up
in Hawaii, where he was influenced by his father who taught
physical education and coached basketball, and where he
played high school basketball. After graduating from the
University of Hawaii, he enrolled in the JD program at Western
New England, before continuing his graduate studies at Springfield College. During his time in Springfield, Curt coached
women’s volleyball as an assistant coach, first at Springfield
College and later at American International College.
After completing his graduate studies, Curt worked for
the NCAA in Compliance Services before joining the U.S.
Olympic Committee, first as associate general counsel, subsequently as director of athlete services, and finally as director
of international relations.
While Curt was working at the USOC in Colorado Springs,
Western New England was never far from his heart. He served
as a member of the Law Alumni Board, spoke to classes, and
helped recruit students. In 2006,
he came full circle, returning to
the campus to join the faculty of
the College of Business as a mem-
ber of the Department of Sport
Management. In addition to
directing the CISB, he also serves
as director of the Business Hon-
ors and the Sophomore Experi-
ence Abroad (London) programs.
Through the Center for International Sport Business, Curt
has championed one of the most popular study abroad pro-
grams on campus, and unique among universities worldwide.
“As far as I am aware, Western New England University is
the only program of this kind that regularly takes students to
the Olympic Games. There is another university (George
Washington) that takes graduate students to the Olympics,
but their purpose is data-gathering for research, so their focus
is different,” says Curt. “It is indeed a rarity for college stu-
dents anywhere to have the chance to attend and experience
such a high-profile sporting event.”
To date, the CISB Seminar Abroad program has focused on
the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup Finals, in alter-
nating even-numbered years (since both mega sporting events
are held in four-year cycles). Curt and his colleagues have led
seminars in Brazil (twice), China, South Africa, and the UK.
“In the sport travel course, students are enrolled in an
international practicum that focuses on the historical significance of these global events, where they study the business
aspects of staging gatherings of this magnitude, in addition
to the controversies and issues—economic, political, and
social—peculiar to the Games at hand,” says Curt.
While we may not have the good fortunate to be in Curt’s
class, he says the Olympic games still offer important lessons
for all of us.
“For me, the Olympic Games are a celebration of humanity.
In other words,” says Curt, “it symbolizes the quintessential
global village in that it summons at one place and at the same
moment people from virtually every nationality on the planet.
As the prime mover of the Modern Olympics Pierre de Cou-bertin, said, ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games
is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing
in life is not the triumph but the struggle; the essential thing is
not to have conquered but to have fought well.’ If you think
about it, Coubertin’s statement is really a metaphor for life.” ◆
Associate Professor Curt Hamakawa ’84 Gives Western New
England University Business Students a Global Education
Thanks to law alumnus and Associate Professor of Sport Management Curt Hamakawa ’84, Western New
England University business students don’t just watch the Olympic Games, they study them in person.
“My coming of age about the Olympics was the 1972 Munich Games, watching the Israeli hostage saga in the Olympic Village unfold on live TV. It was gripping
viewing, but it piqued my awareness of this thing called the Olympic Games.
Of course, my 16-year career with the U.S. Olympic Committee sealed my fate
as a lifelong student of the Games.” —Curt Hamakawa ’84
Associate Professor of Sport Management
Curt Hamakawa ’84