After reading several articles about young people, especially college grads, attempting to break into the sports or entertainment industry, I have come to the conclusion that it may be more beneficial to pursue a degree in anything but Sport.
In addition, through a conversation with a notable Athletic Director, I posed the question: Where are all our Sports Management grads go going to go? Each year thousands (more like tens of thousands) of students walk the stage with a Sport Management Degree – yet the number of available jobs are declining. That said, sports management degrees give students valuable experience in multiple different aspects of the sporting industry.
According to The New York Times, nearly all of the big pro leagues are dumping jobs and looking to shore out the bottom-line during the current economic cycle; add to the fact that it is nearly impossible to find steady employment on the client representation/management side, especially as someone with limited experience.
While some sport(s) management programs offer an emphasis on core business principles, many do not. According to several studies, many sport(s) management departments prefer to be entirely separate from business programs.
To me, this robs students of the most important aspect of the industry – Business. Even at the University of Florida, with a ‘top-notch program,’ the offering of business related courses within the department is very limited (maybe two legitimate business courses).
So why limit yourself to one path? Even if the sports or entertainment industry was flourishing, the chance of you switching careers (or burnout) more than five times in your lifetime is relatively high.
It is my belief that you have to be highly marketable and as ‘well rounded’ as possible in order to compete as an agent or even as a manager on the other side of the coin.
So before you graduate or enroll for the summer or fall, look into marketing, management, finance, advertising, public relations, entrepreneurship courses, or even take some online MBA classes – these will prepare you well for an internship or an entry-level job in sports or entertainment.
If you’re a freshman or sophomore (actually any level of school), think about pursuing internships in areas outside of sports such as finance, public relations, or marketing – these will enable you to jump right into real tasks when you find the right sports opportunity.
Also, if you think writing is ‘left at the door’ of the sports world, think again – the more effective and ‘well-written’ you are, the greater chance of advancement. As an employee, you’re selling yourself each and every day – writing well will show that you can convey the needed message or write the most effective proposal for business opportunities.
As an intern at Dynasty Athlete Representation, LLC, I have written as much or more than I ever have in school or with any other venture (including start-ups with Business Plans).
Nearly everything I have learned through undergraduate business school – has prepared me to effectively construct marketing plans, prospect analyses, and a variety of reports for both superiors and business partners.
While none of these are prerequisites (or a supplement) for a successful career or internship experience, it definitely helps, because a sports agency is a business.
17 replies on “Is a Sport(s) Management Degree worth it?”
I think the Sports Management MBA is the way to go if wanting to crack into the industry. There aren’t many of these programs out there. It allows you to get your MBA and your electives will be Sports Management classes. So instead of just a sports management degree, you’re receiving an MBA with a concentration in Sports Management. This allows for a backup plan incase the sports industry doesnt work out.
I’m pursuing my B.S. in sports management and eventually MBA in sports administration in the future. As a Chinese American, I want to move to China and pursue the sports industry there. Does anyone have advice or opinion on this specialized track in China? Thanks
That is right on. What my suggestion is based around is the idea that even a few business courses can enable you to be more productive as an intern or entry-level hire. For instance, if you need to develop a marketing plan. Even if you slept through your marketing class, you will inherently know or have a feel (or have a marketing textbook lol) for where to start.
In all honesty, someone looking to to get into sports should not concern themselves at all with sports courses. They will learn from experience as well as reading, reading, and reading more articles and current events. It’s really business and law combined into one strange concoction. While this could be another article onto itself, many of the most successful people in sports really did not decide they were going to be in it to win it until much later in their lives. It simply takes a passion to compete.
Sports management as a minor with a major in anything else may be a good idea.
I can tell you that my sports management degree is becoming more and more useless by the day. As someone who is trying to break into the industry, unless I want to work in sports administration my opportunities are limited.
As an employer, the value of a degreed professional is in their willingness to be on the phone with potential clients. Some call this sales, but the days of cold calling are over so it’s all about long term relationship building. If you can do that, you can excel in sports management, regardless of your degree.
Wow what a real Eye opener. I am a sport management major at my school and it has more of a business core, so I can see where you are coming from, with the available jobs out there. I would like to pursue a job in sport but i see many who have graduated from my school with this degree say it gets useless by day. Sometime I do not know what to think and makes me second guess my degree, so i added a minor in pre-law.
Just remember, there are just as many non-sport(s) management majors attempting to enter the field. I think a lot of times when someone sees that (sports management) — as an employer seeking an intern/candidate, they immediately assume an administrative position. As noted, this industry is all about communicating and networking — if you can’t sell yourself, you’re not going to sell anything.
I think showing diversity in your education proves to someone reviewing your resume that you are open-minded, hungry for knowledge, and you understand the importance of the micro and macro picture.
The world is 100% interconnected, everything from economics to microbiology has some relevance to your future. I’m very holistic, I’ve seen a lot for someone my age, and I know that diversity is key — it has given me amazing opportunities in the last 6 months.
Wade – which New York Times article are you referring to?
The NY Times article was from last spring, I believe to be late spring. It was discussing how many students in undergraduate and graduate programs are basically having a tough time finding employment in sports. Now, to note the point of the article was to illustrate the nature of the industry and how it’s difficult to just jump into a dream position from the start. Feel free to contact me via facebook and I can dig up the article.
[…] Senti’s controversial post, Is a Sport(s) Management Degree worth it?, sparked up quite a conversation on the blog, and also filled up our email boxes with follow-up […]
I am an army medical officer and have been in the service for nearly ten years, graduated from the university of northern colorado, one of the top schools in the country for sport management with a masters degree and have found it hard being able to use the degree in the military and if I were to get out, having graduated in 2004, how much of a pay drop would I likely find myself dealing with with no experience outside of my military career.
I agree with the below posters that marketing and networking come into play but more and more students need to have greater opportunities to walk into jobs when they graduate than to walk across the stage with a graduate degree and have a hard time finding a job. Our economy is not the best and many individuals are struggling with this and not just in the sport management field.
I Am a junior in high school looking to major in sports managment in college sports are my life and I like business as well what minors or other things should i consider when I look for colleges
Go with a Major in Management, and double Computer Science. You will always have a job. ALWAYS! Minor in comp science if your school has it. Never ever do sport management degree.
Those who want to major in sports management ought to major in business management.
I’m certain the program was invented to increase revenue. A sports management program is less strict on admissions criteria. Hence, the school can matriculate more students and boost their cash flow.
Criminal Justice is another program invented just for cash flow. It’s a notoriously easy major who’s graduates almost never get a job in law.
UF has many business classes as part of the curriculum. What are you talking about? Accounting, Business Finance, Sport & Business Finance, Management, Sport Management, Marketing and finally Sports Marketing. Youre right about the jobs, but really wrong about the UF Sport Management curriculum.
I also forgot to add Micro and Macro economics.