Introduction to Sports Management

Sports management explores the business side of the sports industry. Some examples of sports managers include team coaches, general managers, recruiters, scouts, athletic directors, and sports agents. Jobs in marketing and promotions, sports information, academic student services, and development within intercollegiate sports are often available to sports management degree holders. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports management focus on sports information, interscholastic intercollegiate and professional sports, facility management, sport ethics, sport marketing, sport law, and sport finance.

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Frequently Asked Questions About a Sports Management Career

What exactly is a sports management degree?

Sports management mainly involves the application of sound business skills and knowledge to the sports industry. You may take classes in accounting, marketing, management, ethics, economics, computer applications, and more. Persons who graduate and start their career should have the necessary tools to work in a wide variety of positions. These positions include program directors, directors of ticketing and finance, sporting goods sales reps, compliance directories, player representatives, and much more.

What are the different types of degrees in this field?

There are a variety of degree programs that persons can enroll in online. In terms of minimum education requirements, all degree programs require at least a high school diploma or GED. Students can pursue anything from an associate's degree to a master's degree in sports management.

What are the benefits of a sports management degree?

For those who know they want to work in professional sports, this degree is beneficial because it deals with the basic of business such as contracts, ethics and accounting, exclusively from a sports perspective. While you can learn these things in a general business program, you are learning how to apply the fundamentals accordingly in a sports management program. These programs are also a great way to network and gain experience in the field. Internships are an important part of working in professional sports, as are networking and building a variety of contacts. Established programs have alumni and staff that are eager to place the right students in positions that can turn into full time employment after receiving their degrees.

What should I look for in a degree program?

Seek out a program that is accredited. Preferably the program should also have a history and be established enough to help you with job placement when you’re nearly done with your degree. Because this degree is relatively new, this can be difficult to find, but some programs have been around for several years versus one or two. Any program you apply to should be accredited. This goes for both online and traditional degree programs. Online programs are not the norm for sports management, but they are available and quickly becoming more popular and acceptable. The priority is that you’re going to school at an accredited learning institution, whether that’s online or a standard degree program. Online programs are often accredited by the same organizations that accredit traditional schools. The upside to these programs is that you can study and work toward your degree on your own time, around whatever schedule you already keep, whether with work, family life, or anything else.

Should I pursue an internship?

Many programs require an internship to be completed in the latter portion of the program. This is more common for traditional schools or online degrees that are an extension of a traditional program. Many online only programs do not require internships in order to graduate. The purpose of an internship is to give students hands-on experience working in their field. The range of career possibilities for those working in the field is very wide; students can work in promotions, marketing, player contracts, or scouting, to name just a few of the areas. Internships allow a student to get a taste of these different positions and gives them a better idea of each role and what they want to explore as a career.

Established programs often have better connections for students when it comes to internships. The school may have an alumni program that allows those working in sports management to recruit students for internships each semester. It is not uncommon for a student to relocate only for the duration of the summer for a sports internship. Many programs offer small stipends to cover a student’s expenses, though most students are responsible for housing, as it’s not provided by the team or school. This is common throughout sports careers, as many staff members will work for different teams within the same sport throughout their careers.

What prerequisites are necessary for incoming students?

For the most part, there are very limited prerequisites. Most traditional schools require a student have a high school diploma and some accept the GED, especially for online outlets of a program. Online programs usually require a high school diploma or GED. These are the prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree in sports management. There are a few master’s programs for sports management, and those programs require students to have a bachelor’s degree and some require the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). This degree usually does not have to be from a related field, but most students obtaining a Masters of Sports Management have a background in business, communications, or public relations. This also might be an area to explore for students who have attended law school, but do not plan on practicing law or sitting for the bar exam in their state.

What financial aid is available to students?

Students who have demonstrated that they have a financial need are generally always able to obtain help for financing their education. At the very least, every student should fill out a FAFSA to see what aid they may be able to receive. However, there are also a variety of sports management scholarships available for students who meet requirements. More specifically, students can obtain aid from the Institute of Sports Management. Women interested in this degree can apply for the Dorothy Harris Endowed Scholarship. Specific universities also offer scholarships for qualified candidates. For example, The Ohio State University offers the Ted Coates Scholarship fund for sports management students, and the University of Florida offers the Fred and Charlotte Rozelle Sport Management Endowment. Extensive research is the best way to learn more about the various scholarships available for this field of study.

How do I learn more?

Most accredited programs state their accreditation source on their website. This is common practice for both online and traditional schools. If a program does not state their accreditation online, schedule an appointment with an academic advisor. For traditional schools, online programs with a campus, or those that operate through a traditional school, you will be able to physically meet with an advisor who can explain the details of the program to you. Schools that operate solely online typically have a live chat or phone appointments for speaking with an advisor. Ask the advisor about the school’s accreditation source, how long the program has existed at the school and how experienced the instructors are. All of these things play into your success for any online degree program. Traditional schools should also be carefully researched. Just because a school offers a degree does not mean that department is well-established. Programs that have been around a few years typically have the skills and connections to help students succeed.

Do I have to work in professional sports?

Professional sports is an extremely competitive industry. While there are job opportunities, it is very much an environment that revolves around networking and working your way up the ladder. Depending on where you live also dictates the opportunities available to you. Those in large urban cities will have far better career options than those in mid-size or small cities that do not generate serious revenue due to professional sports. While professional sports continue to grow, there are simply not enough jobs for everyone to be involved. Explore other options such as venue management, athletics director, and marketing for venues, teams, or companies. Also remember that some smaller markets have minor league teams, which operate with the same staff as a major league team, only on a smaller scale. This is a prime stepping stone for those who want to learn the business and eventually work in a larger market.

What other job options are available in this field?

Consider positions that are less glamorous than sports agent or general manager. These positions are attainable, but take many years of working in the business and also rely heavily on connections. Jobs that are easier to obtain that utilize a degree in sports management are working in venue management or as an athletics director. In the former, you work managing all events and functions held at a venue. This can be everything from schedules to budgets and cross-promotions with companies and teams. In this position, you will be able to network with major or minor league officials and potentially land a job interview with a professional team.

As an athletics director, you can work in management for a university, college, or high school; many schools have large budgets and staffs that operate similar to a professional team. There’s marketing, events, and promotions that revolve around branding for a school and team. In many cases, a job as an athletics director can pay very well, especially at universities with well-known, winning sports teams and at high schools that have large budgets.

Is there a demand for professionals in this field?

Sports is a growing business. There will be a need for those working in basketball and soccer, as those are the sports that are set to experience the most growth in the coming decade. Basketball is expected to become more popular worldwide, creating marketing and management positions for global business with a professional team or league. Due to the influx of the Hispanic market in the United States, soccer is slated for serious growth. Those who are bilingual will have the most potential, as many marketing and advertising will be done in Spanish. Overall, it is a very competitive industry that requires an education and the skills to put those techniques learned into effect. Work experience is extremely important in professional sports, which is why it’s important to find a degree program that can place you in desirable internships to build your resume and skills.

What is the average salary for graduates in this field?

Persons who have earned their degree in sports management face a robust job market, with competitive salaries. Because of the amount of variation in occupations and degree levels, there is a significant gap between the lowest salaries and highest salaries for a sports management career. On average, persons in the industry make $50,000 a year. However, someone who is a sports agent can make significantly more (some commanding salaries of as much as $600,000 yearly). Someone who is an athletic director can make around $100,000. More info.

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