You have always loved sports. When you were young, your answer to the ubiquitous question “What are you going to do when you grow up?” was always something related to sports. Now that you are older and ready to make good on those dreams, it might be time to think seriously about what your career in sports will look like – especially if you aren’t planning on being an athlete.
Sports management is a lucrative career, and one that you might consider strongly if you have a heart for sports and a head for business. However, the path into high-level sports management isn’t smooth and easy; it takes time and effort to develop the knowledge and skill, professional contacts and industry experience necessary to find true success. If you are intrigued by the prospects of a sports management career, here’s what you need to do at every step of your journey.
Be Active in Sports
Rare is the sports manager who did not spend much of their youth in athletics. It is important for you to experience sports for much of the time before you seriously invest in a sports management education, so you understand how athletics works and you can become certain that you can commit your career to it. Even if you don’t make varsity or otherwise live up to your athletic dreams, you should remain active by working as a coach’s assistant, team manager or some other administrative role.
Gain a Related Degree
You need to go to college to equip yourself with the right skills for sports management positions. A handful of colleges do offer sports management programs, but it isn’t necessary to pursue this niche so early in your career. If you would prefer to keep your options open, you might instead earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which should cover all the basic business skills you might need to manage an athlete, team or organization.
Continue to Be Active in Sports
During your undergraduate academic career, you should remain active in sports. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to be a student athlete; rather, you should become close with your school’s athletics department by applying for positions close to the sports department or team. You might tutor athletes, work as an assistant to the athletic administration, coordinate equipment maintenance or something else. As long as student athletes, coaches and other critical sports personnel know your name, you are being active in sports effectively.
The sports management field is all about who you know, so it is important that you start forming your professional connections as early as possible. You can do this by remaining active in sports, but you should also be completing internships that put you in contact with high-powered professionals in sports. You should seek internships at athletic leagues, with professional teams, at sports agencies and other places where sports managers find employment.
Consider Graduate School
Once you have your bachelor’s degree, you might consider returning to school for a master’s in sports management. By this time, you should know for certain that sports management will be your career path, which means gaining this advanced specialization is a good move for solidifying your skills and earning credentials that will introduce you to related employment. You should look for reputable programs, like KU’s sports management program, so you can get the most from this additional education.
Work Your Way up
When you are finally ready to enter the sports workforce, you should recognize that even with your advanced degree, you will need to work your way up. The sports industry is growing; there will be more opportunities for sports managers in the future, which is why it is a good idea to embark on the road to sports management today. However, the field will remain competitive even when you are prepared to find your first job, so you should be ready to start at the bottom and fight for career advancement at every step.
Sports management can be a rewarding career – especially if athletics is your passion. You can be a sports manager for an individual athlete, a sports team or an entire league; you can freelance, or you can commit to employment with a certain administration. The career is flexible, but it is cutthroat, so you must have the right background before you try to find success in sports management.