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How to Get into Sports Management

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to achieve a satisfying career in sports.  A very small percentage of athletes make it into the professional arena, and those who do don’t always have time for everything that comes along with modern-day sports stardom. Many athletic organizations and teams – and sometimes individual athletes – rely on sports managers to fill the gaps in what needs to be done.

What is Sports Management?

Sports managers take on the business or organization side of sports so that their clients can focus on winning. Unlike sports agents, managers don’t focus on contracts or promotional deals. Instead, they ensure their clients get the proper training so that they can perform at their highest level. The specific job duties vary depending on if they work for an individual athlete or a sports organization. Successful professionals in this field have a passion for sports and a hodgepodge of skills from multiple fields, including sales, analytics and public relations.

Sports managers working for individual athletes ensure they remain in peak physical and mental health, as well as manage their public image. If working for an organization or team, managers oversee the entirety of the organization, including maintaining staff levels, working with marketing to maintain public image and performing basic human resource tasks like mediation. They are hired at a variety of venues including academic institutions, amateur and professional leagues, sporting goods companies and even sports marketing firms.

Depending on the organization, some managers are also responsible for the financial aspects of the team. In addition to maintaining salaries and budgets, they also make travel arrangements and purchase equipment and uniforms.

During the playing season, sports managers may work seven days a week. When the team travels to an away game, managers typically stay behind at the office. A few who have been in the business for many years travel with the team, but it isn’t common. In the off-season, they negotiate trades and sign free agents. Adding to the team can be one of the most delicate parts of the job; managers make deals that satisfy the needs of the team and the wants of the owners without alienating any existing players.

The sports management industry contains many subfields, offering a variety of careers for business-minded sports enthusiasts. Several sports managers started in the field as agents at a firm. Agents manage legal and corporate matters such as contracts, act as a career advisor and speak on behalf of an athlete. Highly tenured professionals with extensive education can become general managers. They oversee a team’s business matters, finances and budget, hire head coaches, draft and trade athletes and act as the team spokesperson.

Salaries in this field vary depending on employer and position. Some top-level executives and general managers for professional sports teams receive several million dollars per year. In contrast, youth athletic club managers earn well below the national average.  A realistic expectation lies somewhere in the middle.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual wage for agents and business managers of any field to be $90,870 in 2017. General managers for spectator sports teams earned a median salary of  $123,460 the same year.

Getting Started

It’s very possible to break into the industry with a bachelor’s degree, especially if you major in sports management. A bachelor’s degree in business, management or a related field of study is also suitable if paired with a minor in sports management. Becoming a general manager, sports administrator or some other executive-level position requires a master’s degree in either sports management or business administration.

In addition to education requirements, advancement in this field is powered by experience in the field. Like other entertainment tracks, the sports track relies heavily on “paying dues” to advance. Internships, volunteering and part-time work at an athletic organization give hands-on experience that hones skills needed for this profession.

For those interested in a career in this field, it’s not just about what they know – it’s about who they know. Connections within the field increase job opportunities. Therefore, networking is key, and it’s never too early to start.

Become a Leader in Sports

Whether you are seeking to advance your career, break into the sports industry or advance your career, programs from William Jessup University provide you with the necessary skills to become a leader in the athletics and sports fields.

Our programs are designed by faculty members who have real-world experience and are leaders in the field. Once you’ve earned a degree from us, you will be prepared to pursue a variety of roles in the industry, such as an athletic director, coach, sports agent, athletic trainer and more.

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