Essential Reading for Sports Management Students

There are dozens of books out there that sports management students should read and keep on their shelves. From textbooks to biographies, the field of sports management has generated a massive body of literature, and it can be difficult to sort through and decide which books are truly most important. These are our top ten picks for some of the absolute must-reads across the full spectrum of sports management books.

1. The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players (1993)
by Pat Riley
Drawing upon the great teachers and his own experiences in and out of sports, interweaving them with dozens of parallels and stories from business and society, Riley shows how to ride the cycles of team change, balance role players and stars, build solid foundations, break through self-imposed barriers, create change within continuity, and nurture cooperation within competition

2. Marketing Outrageously: How to Crank Up Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts (2001)
by Jon Spoelstra
Arguing that risk-taking is the key to marketing success, the high- powered sports marketer recommends high-octane execution of bold ideas to pump life into a lifeless campaign.

3. Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks, and Success (1999)
by Joe Torre
With three World Series Championships under his belt in four years, who better to give advice on managing than the most beloved and successful manager of the New York Yankees, Joe Torre? With entertaining stories from his experiences with the always colorful Yankees, he reveals the twelve keys to his successful management philosophy keys directly applicable to business and to life, from how to handle tough bosses to earning the trust and respect of your team players.

4. Reach for the Summit: The Definite Dozen System for Succeeding at Whatever You Do (1998)
by Pat Summitt
In this groundbreaking motivational book, Pat Summitt presents her formula for success, which she calls the “Definite Dozen System.” In each of the book’s twelve chapters, Summitt talks about one of the system’s principles–such as responsibility, discipline, and loyalty–and shows how you apply it to your own situation. Along the way, she uses her own remarkable story as a vehicle for explaining how anyone can transform herself through ambition. Pat Summitt will motivate you to achieve in sports, business, and the most important game of all–life.

5. Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law (1998)
by Roger Abrams
Abrams examines such issues as drug use and gambling, enforcement of contracts, and the rights of owners and managers. The stories he tells are not limited to his official lineup, but include appearances by a host of other characters.

6. Built to Win: Inside Stories and Leadership Strategies from Baseball’s Winningest GM (2008)
by John Schuerholz, Larry Guest
In Built to Win, the legendary manager John Scherholz takes readers behind the scenes of the most successful franchise in recent history–and shows how his unique philosophies and leadership have helped the Atlanta Braves achieve something no team has ever come close to accomplishing. He candidly peels back the curtain, from his first World Series with the Kansas City Royals to his departure for the struggling Braves. No sooner did Schuerholz arrive than they won their first title in 1991…and the rest is history.

7. Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices,and Priorities of a Winning Life (2007)
by Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy’s words and example have intrigued millions of people, particularly following his victory in Super Bowl XLI, the first for an African American coach. How is it possible for a coach—especially a football coach—to win the respect of his players and lead them to the Super Bowl without the screaming histrionics, the profanities, and the demand that the sport come before anything else? How is it possible for anyone to be successful without compromising faith and family? In this inspiring and reflective memoir, now updated with a new chapter, Coach Dungy tells the story of a life lived for God and family—and challenges us all to redefine our ideas of what it means to succeed.

8. Success Is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life (1996)
by Rick Pitino
For Rick Pitino, the first coach to bring teams from three different schools to the Final Four, success isn’t about shortcuts. Pitino’s secret–and the reason he has become both a great coach and one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the nation–is his strategy of overachievement. Now, in Success Is a Choice, he takes the same proven methods that have earned him and his teams legendary status and gives you a ten-step plan of attack that will help you become a winner at anything you set your mind to.

9. Marketing Your Dreams: Business and Life Lessons from Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Promotional Genius (2000)
by Pat Williams
Williams, senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, insists that Marketing Your Dreams isn’t a Bill Veeck biography; instead, it’s a book about success, a book about one of the most relentless and fascinating personalities in the history of organized sports. It’s a book about extracting Veeck’s traits and concentrating them into their purest form so that the reader can pull the same kind of inspiration from the master that Williams did.

10. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2004)
by Michael Lewis
Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can’t buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams, and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilities—his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission—but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers and physics professors.

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