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If you enjoy playing or coaching recreational sports, you may be considering a career in sport management. After all, the field is diverse and can be highly lucrative. But what is sport management, exactly? Keep reading to learn more about this multidisciplinary business field.
What Is Sport Management?
Sport management refers to the management of various business functions in sports and recreation organizations. Depending on their specific job title, sport management professionals might plan, direct, organize or budget within a sports-related organization.
Getting a job in sport management doesn’t necessarily mean signing on with a professional athletic league. Several sports and recreational organizations employ people with sport management skills—from college teams to stadiums, sports media firms to the Paralympics.
Sport management professionals tend to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Leadership positions in sports and recreation usually require at least a bachelor of business administration.
Sport Management Degrees
Bachelor of Science in Sport Management
An undergraduate sport management degree prepares students for entry-level positions in the industry. Some start with a four-year undergraduate program at a college or university. Others begin by completing a two-year associate degree at a community college before transferring to a four-year university.
Expect to cover a variety of topics related to business management in undergraduate sport management courses. You might study brand management, event planning, facility management and legal aspects of sports and athletics. A BS in sport management equips students to work in facility management or sporting goods sales. Such entry-level positions often serve as a springboard to more advanced career paths.
Bachelor of Business Administration in Sport Management
If you’re interested in sports leadership positions, consider pursuing a bachelor of business administration (BBA). This degree involves a business-intensive curriculum featuring management, finance, accounting and marketing courses.
BBA programs usually take three to four years to complete. Potential careers for BBA graduates include sport manager, athletic director, general manager, sports advertising sales manager and parks and recreation director.
MBA in Sport Management
MBA in sport management programs sharpen your business management skills through the lens of the sports and recreation industry. These degrees typically take two years to complete. Core coursework includes business-centric topics like finance, marketing, accounting, statistics and operations.
Sport management MBA programs offer a variety of industry-specific electives. These may include classes like coaching, sports media, sport psychology and international sports relations. Many programs also include internship opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience with athletic organizations.
Earning an MBA can open the door to higher-paying jobs in larger sports organizations. Sport management MBA graduates often find jobs with professional athletic leagues or sports marketing firms.
Ph.D. in Sport Management
If you’re interested in academia, consider pursuing a Ph.D. in sport management. People with sport management doctoral degrees often go on to launch careers as professors, researchers, urban developers and economists in the context of sports and recreation.
As a sport management Ph.D. candidate, you’ll develop an original doctoral dissertation. Throughout the program, you’ll generate research ideas, conduct relevant research and take supplemental coursework. Most Ph.D. candidates also serve as graduate student research assistants, providing professors with grading and instruction support.
During a doctoral program, your research could examine the intersection of sports and gender, for example. Other possible research areas include sports and their social impact or sports industry economics. Students are encouraged and expected to generate their own research ideas for original thesis development.
Sport Management Concentrations
Because sport management is a multidisciplinary field, many students pursue concentrations to deepen their expertise in a specific subtopic. If you’re inclined toward a certain aspect of the industry, consider finding a program that offers a concentration in that particular field. Below are a few examples of popular sport management concentrations.
Several laws impact the world of professional, amateur and recreational sports. Sports lawyers help athletes, coaches, managers and organizations navigate those laws and, when possible, avoid costly litigation.
Some of the most common areas of sports law include:
- Contract law. This area governs the contracts made between athletes, coaches and their respective teams. These contracts are most common in professional athletic leagues and involve millions of dollars. Sports lawyers draft these contracts and aid in their negotiation.
- Trademark law. Sports teams are identified by their names, logos and sometimes slogans. Those assets need to be trademarked for teams to maintain rights and control over them. In this case, sports lawyers help teams file their trademarks and enforce the terms in the event of trademark violations.
- Personal injury law. Athletes are prone to injury, both on and off the field. If an athlete (or another plaintiff, like a coach or spectator) files a legal claim after an injury, personal injury lawyers step in to facilitate the claims process. Furthermore, venues that host sporting events must ensure the space is safe to avoid personal injury liability. Personal injury law comes into play if a fan gets injured at a game due to neglected facility maintenance.
Sports media refers to the broadcast and reporting of sporting events, teams and sports news. Jobs in the sports media field include print journalism, photography, broadcast reporting (TV and radio), sports information analysis and program production. Major employers in the sports media arena include the MLB Network, ESPN and NBC Sports Regional Networks.
Sports event management involves planning, coordinating, organizing and leading events for sports organizations. Putting on sporting events—from marathons to minor league baseball games—requires relentless attention to detail and quick decision-making skills. Among other key responsibilities, event managers must manage budgets, negotiate with vendors and coordinate day-of logistics.
Careers in Sport Management
Average Annual Salary: Around $61,000
Job Description: Athletic directors liaise among schools’ athletes, coaches and academic departments. These professionals oversee the goals, budget and operations of schools’ athletic departments. They also help hire coaching staff, maintain facilities and promote athletic programs.
Median Annual Salary: $97,930
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): +9%
Job Description: Facilities directors are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of athletic facilities. They ensure the safety of all those playing on the field, court or another playing surface. Facilities directors should hold a postsecondary degree in sport management and be trained in CPR and first aid.
Median Annual Salary: $133,380
Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 10%
Job Description: Sports marketing consultants employ sales and marketing tactics to promote sports teams and their related organizations. They might also promote individual high-profile athletes. Marketing consultants also might work on a contract basis to supply valuable insights to clients.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sport Management
Is sport management in demand?
Considering that 74% of Americans consider themselves sports fans, the sports industry is enjoying a positive growth outlook. As a result, growth rates for jobs including coaches, scouts, agents and business managers are on the rise.
What does a person with a sport management degree do?
Sport management degree-holders typically have various career options. Some might work directly with athletes as coaches, athletic directors or facilities directors. Others go the corporate route and become marketers, lawyers, data analysts or sports reporters.
What jobs are the highest paid in sport management?
Sports marketing consultants have one of the highest-paying positions in the sport management industry. Marketing consultants make a median annual salary of $133,380, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Is it hard to get a job in sport management?
Yes, especially for those lacking the proper education or industry connections. Holding a degree in sport management gives you a higher chance of standing out against the competition and creating a lucrative career in the industry.