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Five In-Demand Sport Management Careers

September 23

Jobs in the sports industry extend well beyond the athletes we see competing, and sport management careers represent a large portion of the field. Behind every professional team and athlete is another large team of business professionals who work to support the athletes and organization. The sport industry is currently on track to reach $80.3 billion by 2022 in North America alone,1 and offers a wide range of positions for those who seek to join it. But which careers in sport management are the best? That really depends on where your passion lies and what your goals are, but first, let's explore what sport management entails.

What Is Sport Management?

Sport management is more than just he business aspect of sports. Depending on how you decide to specialize your career, it can incorporate various aspects of other fields such as accounting, business, law and marketing, and depending on what area you decide to work in, it can incorporate recreation, management, and more. Whether you intend to work in your local community or break into the professional leagues, the competitive nature of the industry means that there are sport management careers that may require a master's in sport management. You can utilize your business interests and the skills gained from a master's in sport management to earn roles that range from account management to event planning. We'll explore five roles more thoroughly below:2

  1. Athletic Director: For those interested in working in a college or university setting, a career as an athletic director may be a good fit. As administrators, athletic directors don't work directly with student-athletes but oversee the entire athletic department to ensure everything is running smoothly. Athletic directors are responsible for a wide range of vital tasks, including but not limited to budgeting, travel arrangements, daily operations, scheduling games, supervising the ordering of equipment, promoting and fundraising for athletic departments, hiring and firing coaches and ensuring that teams meet the national or conference ethical and legal standards. Athletic directors may also function as the public face for the school's athletic department.
  2. Brand Manager: Given the competitive nature of the sports industry, brand management is an essential component in creating a successful merchandise item or brand. Many professional sports organizations invest millions of dollars to employ a brand manager who will develop, plan and implement marketing strategies that will increase their brand value. Since teams heavily invest in their athletes and products, the brand manager is key in maintaining the general performance of their brands and ensuring their team and/or athletes attain maximum visibility in the marketplace. They conduct market research to tap into their fans' perceptions and then brainstorm effective marketing strategies to draw them in and retain them.
  3. Game Operations Manager: Game operations management is a niche area in which professionals are tasked with managing everything that happens in a sporting event from the moment the doors open until the final moments of the competition. Game operations managers handle practically every facet of the game, including sponsorships, parking, security, music, videos, mascots, cheerleaders and more. These professionals plan, set up for, and manage all game day events at the venue. Game operations managers also create operational publications like inclement weather policies, heat management plans, guides for visiting teams and emergency response plans. Other responsibilities include but are not limited to creating game day budgets, coordinating staff needs, helping facility managers with the upkeep of the venue, booking half-time entertainment and managing parking passes. Depending on the size of the staff, game operations managers may also need to ensure that the team's website, social media accounts and photo archives are updated post-game as well.
  4. Sports Accountant: Those who have an accounting background and wish to combine it with a master's in sport management are well placed to meet the rising demand for accountants to organize financial records in this multi-billion dollar industry. Sports accountants are essential members of professional athletic organizations as they ensure that the team has the funds necessary to attract and keep the top coaches and players. The responsibilities may vary depending on their role in the sports industry, but most often the sports accountant is in charge of managing payroll so that players, coaching staff, medical staff, trainers and club executives are properly compensated. During tax season the sports accountant is usually the one who files and reports all of the organization's and players' earnings, including salary, image rights, sponsorships, game bonuses and more.
  5. Player Recruiting: Player recruiting, also known as scouting, is more than just watching games and writing down notes and statistics. A scout or recruiter usually works for a professional sports agency, team, or college or university. They search for the elite players in their respective field and help organizations in those fields fill spots on their rosters. Recruiters spend long hours travelling across the country to watch athletes compete, as well as meet with the athletes and their families away from the competition. This position requires a large amount of research, and a good grasp of math skills. You'll need to understand how agencies determine vital statistics, and you'll also need to know how to conduct thorough personal background research to ensure that the players and their skills fit the organization athletically and personally.

Sport Management Careers Considerations

These five job descriptions are only the tip of the iceberg of opportunities in the sport management field. Before you delve into the many career options available to those with a degree in sport management, you should take time to consider a few factors. Think about what you hope for out of a potential employer and their management style. Consider the size of the organization and how they treat their athletes and staff. You should also consider the potential for career growth, the team's success rate in the industry and their level of pay.

Because master's degree holders typically earn average salaries nearly 20 percent higher than those with only a bachelor's degree,3 a master's in sports management salary could reach outcomes that are above the median pay for many of these positions.

Ready to Reach New Levels of Success?

If rising through the levels of the sport management industries is your goal, getting an online master's in sport management* degree from the University of Kansas can accelerate your journey. Athletes gravitate towards talented trainers and successful teams, why shouldn't you?

The degree program is part of KU's Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, whose first chair was Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Consider how earning a master's title from a university that knows a thing or two about winning titles can help accelerate your career in the sports management field. Request a brochure today!

*This program is a Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree in health, sport management, and exercise science with an emphasis in sport management.