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Exploring the Types of Careers in Sport Event Management

October 13
Two sport managers organizing an event in sport hall.

In the world of sports, there’s more happening behind the scenes than you might think. While athletes and coaches are the public face of sports, professionals in sports management make the games, events, and training programs possible.

From planning major sporting events to running athletic programs at colleges, sport management careers offer a range of opportunities that require various skill sets and present different challenges.1

Career development in sport management

A degree in sports management is a starting point for numerous possible career trajectories. Whether you know exactly what job you want to pursue when you graduate or are just starting to explore your options, you’ll need to proactively engage in career development as part of your educational experience. Some ways you can advance your career in sports management include:2

  • Identify your interests and skills
  • Seek out volunteer opportunities to gain practical experience
  • Reach out to a mentor
  • Identify trends for gaps or niches you can fill
  • Expand your network by attending events and meeting people
  • Build your reputation by adding value to the industry

You should also study the market to fully understand the many possible career paths you can follow with a sport management degree. Read on to explore some of these exciting opportunities.

Event planner

If you enjoy the excitement of live sporting events and the satisfaction that comes from pulling off a seamless operation, then being a sports event planner could be your calling. An event planner coordinates various elements that contribute to the successful execution of a sports event, whether it's a local tournament or an international championship.

Event planning includes logistical planning, such as securing the venue, scheduling the event, and coordinating the arrival and setup of equipment. Planners liaise between coaches, sports organizations, sponsors, workers, and vendors to coordinate schedules, accommodations, and other behind-the-scenes aspects.3

Sports marketing specialist

Sports marketers work for teams or leagues to plan activities and programs that will generate interest in their leagues, teams, athletes, and events. They may plan activities during sporting events to hype up the fans or plan promotional giveaways.

Drawing on a wide range of skills, sports marketers may run advertising campaigns and determine which media outlets to advertise with. They create and execute marketing strategies aimed at engaging fans, increasing ticket sales, and maximizing brand visibility.

When a significant game or tournament is on the horizon, a sports marketing specialist may orchestrate multi-channel advertising campaigns, which can include anything from social media teasers to traditional billboards. They might also manage logistics for promotional events like fan meet-and-greets or autograph sessions.4

Sports agent

Star athletes need someone to manage the business end of their careers so they can focus on competing. A sports agent is a promoter, negotiator, and advisor for their clients. It’s a challenging, fast-paced, exciting career with a high-income potential.

With a single-minded focus on advancing the careers of their clients, sports agents handle business, legal, and PR matters.4 They’re always on the lookout for new talent to represent, so sports agents frequently attend scouting events.

Sports agents also seek out opportunities for their clients, such as endorsements and media opportunities. They negotiate contracts to get their clients the best deal, whether it’s from playing their sport or promoting a product.5

Team manager

Sports team managers work for a team to organize and coordinate their activities. They collaborate with other team leaders, such as coaches and trainers, to handle everything from team training to travel to administration. Sports managers' duties may include:6

  • Scheduling team training, practices, and travel
  • Handling budgeting and accounting
  • Representing the team to the media
  • Working with the brands and donors to schedule appearances
  • Coordinating media and event appearances for athletes
  • Negotiating team funding and endorsements

Recreation manager

If you’re more interested in coordinating local sporting events for your community, you may enjoy being a recreation manager. Recreation managers work in parks, community centers, and other recreational areas. They coordinate physical activities for youth, adults, and seniors.

Recreation managers often perform multiple roles, including planning events, coordinating leagues, and overseeing facilities.

Community engagement forms a significant part of their role. A recreation manager often works closely with community members to identify their needs and preferences. This could involve conducting surveys, holding public meetings, or partnering with local organizations.7

Athletic director

An athletic director typically oversees the athletic programs of educational institutions, ensuring the smooth functioning of each sport offered, from scheduling games to budgeting. They also play a significant role in hiring coaches, setting game or match schedules, and ensuring compliance with athletic regulations. However, their role has significantly evolved in recent times.With the proliferation of professional sport organizations and specialized sport leagues, their responsibilities have broadened. Now, an athletic director job might not just be about school or college sports. It could also involve liaising with professional athletes, overseeing expansive sport facilities, or even dabbling in sports marketing. This evolution emphasizes the need for athletic directors to have a holistic understanding of both the sporting and management aspects of their roles.

Athletic administrator

An athletic administrator oversees the administrative aspects of an athletic program, often at a high school, college, or professional sport organization. In the evolving landscape of the sport industry, these administrators play an integral role, from budgeting for sport programs to ensuring compliance with rules and regulations.

Working hand-in-hand with athletic directors, they harmonize the department's strategic vision with day-to-day operations. This synergy entails crafting game schedules, managing logistical facets of sporting events such as security and ticket sales, and even introducing community-focused activities.

Their pivotal role often attracts individuals with a degree in sport management, offering them an avenue to significantly influence the sport realm in both educational and professional settings. They also oversee the logistical aspects of hosting athletic events, such as security, ticket sales, and facility preparation. In addition, they may develop new activities based on community interests.8

Emerging trends shaping the future of sport management careers

The sport industry is in the throes of a significant transformation. Digitalization, in particular, has permeated every facet of the industry, from how professional athletes engage with their fans to the way sporting events are conceived and executed. These changes have expanded the scope and depth of sport management careers.

At the center of this revolution is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).9 They're not just changing traditional roles but also introducing new ones. Here's a glimpse:

Acquiring new talent: Sport organizations are leaning into AI-driven tools and platforms to unearth and recruit the next big star, making talent scouting more data-driven and precise.

Tracking player performance: The use of AI has enabled the sports world to have real-time performance metrics, transforming how teams strategize during games.

Injury prevention: By monitoring the physical stats of professional athletes through wearable technology, AI helps forecast potential injuries, leading to more personalized training regimes.

Planning matches and events: Predictive analytics, a facet of ML, is streamlining how matches are scheduled, considering several variables like player availability, ticket sales, and even weather conditions.

Determining a player's economic value: AI aids in evaluating an athlete's worth, analyzing game stats, market trends, and a team's specific needs.

Virtual and augmented reality: The fan experience is being transformed with AR and VR, from virtual stadium tours to enhanced live match viewing experiences.

While AI and ML are transformative, other emerging trends are also pivotal in reshaping sport management.10 Traditional sport organizations are now merging with the realm of e-sports, recognizing its tremendous growth and potential.

There's also a heightened emphasis on sustainability, with sport leagues and events focusing on eco-friendly initiatives. Furthermore, the emphasis on diversity and inclusion ensures that the sport industry is more representative and inclusive than ever before.

Considering these developments, a career in sport management is not just limited to traditional roles like athletic director or sports agent. There's a myriad of opportunities spanning across event planning, facilities management, sport marketing, and more. Whether it's managing sport programs at colleges, coordinating major sporting events, or diving deep into sports statistician roles, there's something for everyone.

Those looking to delve into this dynamic field might consider a sport management degree or a master's degree to gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry's business aspects. With the sports market continuously evolving, there’s also an emphasis on career growth and development. By honing specific skills like public relations, business development, or event planning, individuals can position themselves at the forefront of this industry.

In essence, the landscape of sport management careers is more diverse and promising than ever. Whether one's interest lies in sport administration, athlete development, or any other niche, the future promises a plethora of opportunities for those passionate about the world of sports.

Broadening horizons in sports business

The sports business landscape has been undergoing a metamorphosis. With new technological advancements and innovative marketing strategies, the financial dimensions of sports are becoming more intricate.

Major league baseball, for instance, is not just about the games anymore; it's about creating immersive experiences for fans, both online and offline. This broadening horizon means that individuals with combined expertise in business administration and sport management are in high demand.

Exploring advanced degrees and specializations

While a bachelor's degree in sport management provides a solid foundation, many are now considering an advanced degree to specialize further. Whether it's focusing on the legal aspects of sports, delving deep into event management, or understanding the nitty-gritty of sport marketing, an advanced degree can offer a competitive edge.

The global appeal of professional sports

Professional sports are no longer limited to one's home country. With leagues like the NBA, NFL, and even Major League Soccer gaining followers worldwide, there's a pressing need for professionals who understand the global sports market. Those with a degree in sport management are finding opportunities not just in the US but also in emerging sports markets like Asia and Africa.

Building robust sport organizations

With the increasing diversification of sports, sport organizations are focusing on becoming more resilient and adaptable. From adopting sustainable practices to ensuring financial stability in uncertain times, there's a need for professionals who can guide these organizations forward.

Become a leader in the sport industry with a master's in sport management degree

An online master’s in sport management from KU can give you the leadership skills you need to succeed in these and many other professional sport management careers. Begin a new career or advance your current one with a university that’s world-renowned for high-profile athletics and education.

Contact a KU admissions outreach advisor today to learn more.