05 March, 2021 | Posted by Dr. Susan Giblin

Careers in Sports Management

Careers in Sports Management

Each year, the Dallas Cowboys rank as one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.

Forbes’ annual list valued the Cowboys at $5.5 billion in 2020, $500 million ahead of the second-placed New York Yankees.

The Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1996. Over the 24 seasons that have taken place since then, they’ve had more losing seasons than winning seasons. They rarely even make the playoffs or win their division.

For all sporting purposes, the Cowboys are a bad football team and generally poorly run.

But from a business point of view, nobody can compete.

They’re not worth $5.5 billion because their starting quarterback is better than everyone else or their coach just knows how to win. They’re worth $5.5 billion because of their brand and how they manage their brand to generate huge revenue. NFL teams, even the worst of them on the field, generate huge revenue each season. The Carolina Panthers, one of the least valuable teams in the league, recently sold for $2.3 billion.

It’s the same story in the NBA, where Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer bought the little brother franchise of Los Angeles, the Clippers, for $2 billion back in 2014.

Sports across the globe are growing in value and diversity, creating new paths of progression for graduates in sports management.

Sport is a word that means something different to every person. That’s part of the beauty of sport. It’s a short, singular term with seemingly endless meanings depending on what you're a fan of. It creates a connective tissue between us all, even though some of us care about suspending ourselves in the air while holding rings below us, some of us care about cutting through water in a pool as fast as we can and more of us care about chasing a ball on a field of varying shapes and sizes.

The industry of sports is a diverse and constantly evolving domain. With so many sports and so much advancement in the business side of sports, there are more valuable, exciting employment pathways for graduates in sports science, coaching or pyschology. The practitioner-focused work with teams and players is well-covered but there are exciting opportunities in the business side that students should be made more aware of.

Sports management is the ideal combination of business and athletic involvement for passionate, ambitious sports fans who want to build a fulfilling career.

The field of sports management is vast. It’s a diverse and ever-evolving domain. Sports managers can be found working in different areas:

  • Professional teams across the globe
  • Governing body organizations such as the NFL, NHL or NBA
  • Professional sports franchises and brands such as Nike
  • Professional athlete representation agencies

Jobs in sports management require analytical thinking, strategic sports knowledge, communication skills and stand-out business acumen. Sports aren’t just adults getting to live out their dreams of playing childhood games for a living, it’s an important sector of economic activity.

The global sports market reached a value of nearly $488.5 billion in 2018 and spans medical treatment and rehabilitation, research and development, sports tourism, organisation of sports events and marketing and advertising.

From 2014 to 2018, the market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% to nearly $614.1 billion by 2022.

As well as the elite, professional sports sector, sports management opportunities are available across all levels of sport and recreation.

Sports managers are at the helm of all sporting and government initiatives that watch over grassroots development or public health promotion and engagement. Working with your local community and young people isn’t just for coaches and volunteer parents on the field. There are organizational and business elements that have to be managed on a larger scale.

The development of sports as an industry means you no longer have to choose between two passions. You can be passionate about sport and passionate about business while satiating both sides of your ambition in the same career.

Whether it’s business, entrepreneurship, marketing or media, you can find your way in the sports sector with the right degree.

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