Sports Management Professional
Sports Management Professional
Education and Training Bachelor's degree and years of sports experience
Salary Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
From high-profile major league and international contests to local professional and amateur events, spectator sports are an increasingly popular source of entertainment. The multibillion-dollar sports industry offers employment opportunities for management, marketing, and supervisory professionals at all levels of competition. Groups employing sports management professionals include academic institutions, major league and minor league professional sports franchises, independent sports confederations (such as the Professional Golfers' Association), sporting goods companies, and independent sports marketing and management consulting firms.
Sports management professionals hold a number of different positions. Promotion and development directors are hired by sports teams and school athletic programs to design and implement promotional campaigns that will increase ticket sales. These directors also negotiate sponsorships in which advertisers and/or sporting goods manufacturers pay a fee to have their ads or products featured at a sporting event.
Sports information directors act as a liaison between teams and athletic departments on the one hand and the news media on the other. They prepare press guides and press releases and organize "media days" at which athletes and coaches make themselves available to reporters, photographers, and the broadcast media. Information directors may also be responsible for creating a club's official publications, including programs, commemorative magazines, and Web sites.
Athletic directors and general managers coordinate the activities of teams and athletic departments. They are responsible for personnel decisions involving coaches, athletes, and support staff; and they often supervise employees who manage sports facilities. Athletic directors and general managers report to team owners (in the case of professional sports) or to university trustees and school boards (in the case of academic sports).
Sports agents or representatives provide a variety of services to athletes and coaches. They negotiate playing or coaching contracts, work out product endorsement fees, and provide financial, investment, and tax advice. Agents may also offer personal and legal advice to clients.
Sports management professionals combine a love for athletics with business and marketing savvy. There is no set career track in the field. Many sports management professionals are former athletes themselves. Some are trained in other professional disciplines, such as law, accounting, or business management, and come to sports management via their original careers.
Sports management is an intensely competitive career field, and individuals wishing to break into it should be prepared to work long hours. It takes years to gain experience and establish contacts in the sports industry. Sports management professionals require sharp negotiating skills, shrewd political instincts, and an overwhelming desire to succeed.
Education and Training Requirements
Sports management and marketing professionals are, as a rule, college educated. Some universities offer programs in sports management; other recommended courses of study include marketing, accounting, business management, and business law. Individuals interested in a career as a sports information director should major in journalism and might consider working in the media before pursuing a career in sports management.
Many top sports supervisors, marketers, and agents are trained as attorneys or have graduate degrees in business management. The educational levels of individuals engaged in the highest levels of negotiations over player contracts, product endorsements, and television rights will continue to increase as the amount of money involved in sports promotion grows.
Getting the Job
Many sports management professionals enter the field with low-level, unglamorous jobs and work their way up. Candidates should pursue internships in team offices or school athletic departments. Volunteering as a coach or official for local athletics is a good way to learn the basics of sports management and show a commitment to athletics and athletes. These jobs may be advertised on career sites on the Internet or in local newspapers.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
The sports business is a huge and growing industry. Opportunities in sports management and marketing should grow in the coming years; however, competition for jobs in this "glamour" industry will be intense.
Work conditions for sports management professionals varies widely depending on the organization or institution for which they work. All sports managers work long hours, especially those involved with professional sports. The work often entails attending sports events at night and on weekends, although for a sports fan that aspect of the job is a tremendous perk. Many sports management jobs require extensive travel with teams or individual athletes.
Earnings and Benefits
The amount of money to be made in sports management varies widely according to the level of competition and the value of the teams or athletes involved. According to Salary.com, athletic directors at colleges and universities made a median salary of $94,406 in 2006.
Where to Go for More Information
American Management Association
New York, NY 10019
National Association of Sports Officials
2017 Lathrop Ave.
Racine, WI 53405
Professional league sports agents typically do not earn a set salary. Instead they take home a percentage of a client's pay—usually anywhere from 3 to 10 percent. An agent who represents professional football players could earn millions of dollars per year. Professional team managers who manage major league teams can also make salaries well over $1 million. Those who manage minor league teams make considerably less. Benefits for sports management professionals working in a large organization generally include paid vacations and health and retirement plans.