Think only elite athletes can make a career out of their passion for sports? Think again.
Unless you’re one of today’s truly gifted athletes, you’ll have to get your piece of the $91 billion global sports market working behind the scenes. According to WorkInSports.com, only .00525 percent of the U.S. population will go on to become professional athletes.
Lucky for you, the thriving sports industry is exploding with opportunities in all areas, including:
- Sports marketing and sales
- Sports media
- Venue management
- Public relations
- Talent management
All of these roles fall under the broad and highly competitive field known as sports management.
According to Johnson & Wales professor Elizabeth Van Patten, PhD, the number of graduates hired in the sport management field is only trending upwards.
“Like the general business world, the job market in sports has seen significant improvement in the number and quality of positions—as well as in the number of available options for candidates,” she explained.
What is sports management?
Simply put, sports management refers to the business and administrative side of the sports industry. People who pursue these careers are passionate about connecting leadership principles and knowledge of industry operations to advance organizational objectives and support strategic initiatives. They are typically highly skilled in finance, economics, operations, communications, and marketing.
You'll find a huge variety of careers in sports management, thanks to the professional, collegiate, and recreational athletic organizations around the world that need qualified professionals from a variety of disciplines. Employment of sports occupations is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These 79,600 new positions will be created due to the increasing popularity of sports.
Let’s look at some of the most popular careers in sports.
Sport Marketing Manager
If you love organizing promotional campaigns and creating buzz, a role as a sports marketing manager for an athletic team would be a dynamic career choice. In this role, you would be responsible for increasing brand loyalty and sales while promoting the team, players, and events in both digital and traditional media. You’d work to strengthen the voice and image of the organization. The BLS predicts employment of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers will grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, since campaigns are essential for sports organizations that seek to maintain and expand their share of the market.
Facility Operations Manager
Would you love to be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of custodial, grounds, and building maintenance at a high-profile sports stadium or athletic venue? You might oversee ticket sales, concessions, security, and emergency response plans.
Representing and promoting a star athlete while handling the legal, business, and corporate responsibilities falls to an agent. You might oversee the signing of employment contracts and arrange endorsement deals with companies and brands.
The PR department of a sports organization, or the PR representative of an athlete, is responsible for building and protecting the professional image. Handling damage control and communicating with media contacts via press releases and announcements falls under the PR rep's duties. Employment of public relations managers is projected to grow 10 percent by 2026, notes the BLS, “driven by the need for organizations to maintain their public image, especially with the growth of social media.”
Corporate Partnerships Manager
In this position, you’d research and cultivate new strategic corporate and community partnerships for your sports organization. According to Major League Soccer team Houston Dynamo/Dash, a Partnership Marketing Manager would facilitate the “execution of fulfillment of all contractual elements,” “maximize marketing initiatives,” and “lead in the planning” of things that contribute to the sponsorship growth.
Other types of corporate partnerships in sports may include media agreements that pertain to broadcasting rights. According to Forbes, that the biggest reason the sports market in North America is expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019 is due to “projected increases in revenue derived from media rights deals, which is predicted to surpass gate revenues as the sports industry's largest segment.”
One of the most exciting and prestigious careers in sports management is being responsible for a sports team’s business transactions and deals. GMs hire head coaches, draft players, oversee revenue and budget allocation, and act as the media spokesperson and public face of the team. Whether you work for a large professional organization or a smaller semi-pro team, an MBA in Sport Leadership followed by invaluable hands-on experience can set you on an exhilarating career path that culminates with a general manager title.
Develop Strong Skills to Become a Leader in Sports
According to professor Patrick Leary, EdD, the outlook for graduates who are considering a career within the sports industry is very good.
“The global sports industry continues to grow and diversify, thus creating a need for qualified candidates to fill leadership roles within the industry," Leary said. "The future is extremely bright for the sports industry as evidenced by the rapid advances in sports technology and data analytics applications utilized by virtually every sports organization around the world."
Are you interested in channeling your passion for sports into a graduate degree and a new career? Learn more about pursuing your MBA in Sport Leadership at Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education by completing the “Request Info” form on this page, calling 855-JWU-1881, or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.