What Can You Do With a Sports Management Degree
A sports management degree is ideal for those who are both passionate about sports and aspire to have a career in business. This degree program teaches students the fundamentals of business such as economics, corporate financing, and marketing, and how to use these concepts within the field of sports.
Sports management degree earners are qualified for a variety of different careers and the following list is a great start to understanding those career options. However, it should be noted that this is not a complete list as there may likely be many more career opportunities than this.
Usually working for a university, college, or high school, an athletics administrator supervises and directs an academic institution’s athletic department. Also commonly known as an athletics director, these sports professionals hire coaches and other athletics staff, give salary raises and promotions, manage athletic events schedules, and oversee the program’s budget for traveling expenses, purchasing sports equipment, maintaining facilities.
They also ensure that students fulfill athlete eligibility criteria such as meeting academic and GPA requirements. Athletics administrators also help resolve conflicts between players, coaches, and other athletic department participants.
Compensation and Benefits Manager
A compensation and benefits manager essentially oversees the payroll department of a sports team. They determine the salary, sign-on bonus, health insurance, pension plan, and other perks and benefits that sports brands offer talented athletes to entice them into signing contract deals and joining their team.
Based upon their athletic performances, these sports business professionals also decide how much to adjust players’ salaries at the end of their contract if the team wishes to keep them on roster.
Corporate Partnerships Manager
Typically employed by either a sports team (e.g., the Indianapolis Pacers) or an entire sports league (e.g., National Basketball Association or NBA), a corporate partnerships manager is the person-of-contact between the sports brand and its various corporate sponsors (e.g., MasterCard, Budweiser, Walmart). They are responsible for ensuring that the reputations of each corporate sponsor complements the public image that a sports entity wishes to project.
These sports business professionals maintain relationships with existing sponsors, pursue new sponsorship deals, and negotiate mutually beneficial terms with pending sponsors.
A brand manager is a marketing expert who is in charge of merchandising and branding for a sports team and/or league. They strategize how a sports brand should be represented and promoted through retail merchandise — which is not only a means for profit, but also free advertising that is paid for and worn by fans. They also serve as brand ambassadors between athletes and the brands that hire them to advertise their products by ensuring that those companies are not in competition with the team’s larger sponsors.
Coordinating the day-to-day functions of university, community, and major and minor league sports facilities, these sports business professionals play a vital role for nearly every type of sports organization imaginable.
Sports facilities managers supervise the grounds keeping and maintenance staffs of tennis courts, football and baseball stadiums, soccer fields, boxing gyms and rings, basketball courts and arenas, swimming pools, and ice rinks. They also ensure sports facilities are compliant with the safety regulations that help to minimize athlete risk of injury.
Fitness directors plan, coordinate, and oversee the operations of fitness gyms and/or clubs. These sports business professionals coordinate the maintenance of gym equipment, purchase new equipment when necessary, supervise daily budgetary and financial activities, and design exercise programs to target specific fitness needs and goals.
Fitness directors also oversee janitorial staff and customer service representatives who are responsible for strategizing how to sell new membership packages and ensure current gym memberships are renewed year after year. Additionally, they also supervise physical trainers by monitoring their exercise classes.
Financial and Contract Analyst
Sports teams, leagues, and other athletic organizations rely on financial and contract analysts to ensure each agreement they sign and enter is in their absolute best interest. As they review contracts in search for liabilities that could lead to lawsuits in the future, they also try to come up with ways to minimize unnecessary costs.
In addition to being sports business professionals, financial and contract analysts must be highly knowledgeable of home city and state laws and an expert in the federal laws governing contracts across states.
From professional teams and sports leagues to major television networks such as ESPN, market researchers work in a variety of different environments within the world of sports. These sports business professionals study market trends and their conditions to gauge how effective an organization’s advertising campaigns have been in the past, to project their likelihood of either continuing or worsening success, and to plan better strategies for securing higher sales and profits in the future.
Game Day and Event Coordinator
There are numerous facets to ensuring game day is carried out smoothly and successfully, and these sports business professionals are in charge of supervising nearly each and every task. One of the most important jobs within any sports organization, game day and event coordinators make transportation and lodging arrangements for teams during away games, inform the media of essential updates, direct facility safety inspections, and oversee the sale of tickets.
These professionals also manage food, beverage, and other retail concessions to ensure that shelves are stocked, vendors never run out of supplies, and just as importantly, that there is never a surplus of items going to waste.
Guest Relations Manager
A guest relations manager is the person-of-contact between a sports organization, its suite owners, and the various other club-level sports clientele. In addition to ensuring VIP accommodations meet and exceed expectations, they are also in charge of taking reservations, scheduling shifts for guest relations staff members, coordinating facility tours during off season and non-game days, and managing tour guides and other customer and guest services personnel.
Publicity managers are sports business professionals who coordinate and lead marketing campaigns. Developing publicity and promotional strategies to ensure sporting events are well-attended and stands are packed with fans, publicity managers take advertising risks in order to set their brand apart while simultaneously reducing publicity risks in order to protect their brand from unfavorable public feedback. Overall, each of their responsibilities is centered around coming up with newer and better ways of securing revenue.
Public Relations Manager
Athletes, coaches, sports team owners, and sports newscasters are continuously in the public eye and subject to its criticism. Public relations managers are responsible for ensuring that the reputations of public sports figures remain positive by controlling what kind of voluntary information is released. They often write press releases, prepare responses for everyday interview questions, and when necessary, they mitigate the negative effects of harmful publicity.
Scouts are sports business professionals who seek out undiscovered athletic talents on behalf of a sports organization, team, major or minor league, university, or even high school. They spend the majority of sports seasons analyzing newspapers for individual players with high score point averages and traveling to different cities and states to observe athletes, assess their skills, and predict whether or not they would make for a successful addition to a team’s roster.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for sport scouts to assist in contract discussions between athletes and teams.
Ski Resort Manager
Directing the day-to-day operations and activities of ski resorts and lodges, these sports business professionals perform a variety of administrative duties. They supervise all ski resort staff members, oversee finances and budgetary expenditures, and ensure that the hills’ runs, snow density, ski equipment, and lifts are in working order and compliant with safety regulations.
In addition to supervising all the tasks that make a ski resort enjoyable for visitors and profitable for owners, ski resort managers may also coordinate promotional and marketing endeavors.
Frequently confused with sports scouts because they also seek out rising athletic talents, sports agents are much more involved in the negotiations process of contract deals. With the financial means to afford the very best contract lawyers money can buy, new players often find themselves at a major disadvantage when it comes to negotiating their contract terms with multi-million-dollar sports entities. Sports agents help to level this playing field by advocating on behalf of new recruits for the most favorable sign-on packages, salaries, and benefits.
Most people are unaware of just how many legal matters develop within every sport on any given day. For example, a player’s contract is subject to negotiation after every point he or she scores. Union disputes arise in baseball depending on what happens by the end of an inning, and each slam dunk on a NBA basketball court is followed by a lawsuit. Mitigating these legal matters on behalf of teams, coaches, and players, sports attorneys help to protect their clients’ from financial and legal predicaments.
Sports Camp Director
Although most sports camps only operate during summer vacation season, preparing for the few months that they are open for business requires a comprehensive level of scheduling and organization.
Sports camps directors work on a full-time basis throughout the entire year to prepare and coordinate every last camp detail; e.g., hiring and training camp counselors, arranging special events and daily recreational activities, and recruiting the most highly-skilled coaches and athletic trainers that the camp’s budget will allow.
During the months that a camp is in operation, these sports business professionals supervise staff, monitor supply inventories, and ensure all activities are carried out safely.
Sports Marketing Account Executive
A sports marketing account executive is responsible for keeping the schedules of a sports organization’s internal administrators and arranging meetings between them accordingly. Preparing the focus of each meeting, which frequently include topical public issue, these sports business professionals help form revenue targets and develop strategies to meet them.
Sports marketing account executives also mitigate the varying and often conflicting objectives of sports marketing specialists, team owners, coaches, players’ unions, and public relations managers in order to establish and maintain effective working relationships. To prepare for meetings, they spend long days making numerous phone calls, analyzing performance statistics, studying the organization’s competition, and examining expenditure reports.
Ticket Sales Manager
Experts in sales and sales strategies, these sports business professionals oversee the staff members and daily activities associated with selling tickets. Ticket sales managers are in charge of incoming and outgoing sales calls, email campaigns and other promotional endeavors, and developing new ways to reach target audiences and make it easier for them to purchase sporting events tickets.
As staff supervisors, they are responsible for hiring and training new employees, and they frequently prepare and deliver presentations to motivate sales representatives with selling tips, contests, and rewards.