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What Careers Are There for Sports Management Students?

If you are an athlete or sports fan, you may be wondering if there's a way to combine your talent and passion with a future career. A career in sports management can bridge the gap. Sports management focuses on the business and administration side of sports. You'll find sports managers in colleges, sports marketing firms, and professional sports franchises. They help oversee the daily operations, manage relationships, stimulate growth through strategic marketing campaigns, and much more. Here's a closer look at five sports management roles, along with one degree program that can offer a fast-track to a thrilling, fulfilling career in sports management.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Education
What Careers Are There for Sports Management Students?

General manager

Every great team needs leaders, both on and off the pitch. And while the head coach is responsible for unleashing the potential in his or her players, it is the general manager's role to steer the entire organization in the right direction. GMs sit right at the top of the hierarchy and answer directly to the clubs owners. At the highest levels, this means dealing with some of the most successful and demanding people in the world -- so failure is not an option!

General managers need a love of the game, in-depth knowledge of how it works, and razor-sharp business skills including people management, PR know-how, and a keen eye for untapped revenue streams.

College athletic director

For a long time, the role of a college athletic director was seen as a comfortable role for retired professional sports coaches. But thanks to the rise in popularity of college sports, combined with an enormous increase in funding for sports and athletics teams, the industry now attracts top coaches and executives who can earn big salaries and make a real name for themselves in college sports.

Although everything they do is geared towards creating success on the track, court, or field, the day-to-day responsibilities of an athletic director are more concerned with the operations management behind the scenes. This includes managing budgets and leading the way in negotiating multi-million media rights deals. You'll also be making the decisions that define the short and long-term success of your organization, such as building new training facilities or expanding the stadium to bring in more revenue.

Sports marketer

Every week, billions all over the globe tune in via TV, live streams, and hand-held devices to watch their favorite sports teams and stars. Rarely do so many people come together for this kind of shared experience. In other words, sporting events are a marketer's dream, a unique opportunity to get the entire world’s eyes on your product or service. To put this into context, companies pay over $5 million to run a 30-second advert during the Super Bowl.

Sports marketers are responsible for creating and implementing advertising strategies. It is their job to find the right placement opportunities and to come up with innovative new campaigns to capture the interest of sports fans worldwide.

After NFL star Colin Kaepernick ‘took a knee’ knee bend during the US national anthem, Nike decided to use the star as the face of its 30th anniversary campaign. The advert created controversy on all sides of the political spectrum. Nike was also accused of exploiting racial tensions for financial gain, while others argued that this was one of the most effective ways to start a necessary debate. Whatever your opinion, the campaign was a huge success, leading to one of the most profitable periods in Nike's history.

Sports agent

Sports agents represent their client's interests, negotiating new contracts and securing the best deals. Agents working with top stars certainly enjoy the glamorous side of the job, which involves international jet-setting, front-row seats at the world's greatest sporting events, and some very large commissions.

During his long career, football agent Mino Raiola has brokered over a £700 million worth of transfer deals! But it is not just about -- as per the famous sports agent film, Jerry Maguire -- showing your clients the money. Today’s agents are on call 24/7 to make sure all of their client's needs are met. This could be as complicated as negotiating a pay rise or as simple as booking a restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, today's sports stars are often accused of living a sheltered existence where the solution to every problem is only a phone call away. There's definitely some truth in this, but there's also a method behind the madness. Agents want clients focused 100% on their careers. After all, there's usually millions -- and maybe even billions -- at stake.

Lindsay Kagawa Colas is an agent at Wasserman, an agency that works with 1,700 athletes in over 50 sports. For her, being a sports agent is more about forging personal relationships than financial ones. She says, "It sounds cliché, but this is personal. Our clients and our goals are central to the way we organize our lives. We alleviate their stress, but ultimately they have to perform."

Sports facility management

Sports facility managers are in charge of the daily operations involved in running a sports facility. This could range from running a local sports center to maintaining a stadium or arena with a capacity of up to 90,000 people.

Sports facility management is a varied, exciting, and challenging role. One day you may be helping run corporate events for VIP guests and sponsors, and the next you may be chairing a meeting with top-level execs as you try to come up with the best design for a new stadium.

Sports facility managers need to be well organized, personable, and always willing to take on a hands-on approach. Most importantly, you will need the ability to stay calm under pressure and a willingness to take on challenges. This can be stressful stuff, but there's plenty of rewards for the best in the field. As well as a six-figure salary, top-level facility managers work behind the scenes at some of the most prestigious events in the world, rubbing shoulders with major sports stars and celebrities.

Gain the inside edge

Working in sports management requires a unique combination of knowledge of the sports industry and business -- and there's one particular program that will teach you all the skills you need. Run by the University of New York in Prague (UNYP), the European Bachelor in Business Administration - Concentration in Sports Management is designed for sports fans who want to build an exciting career in a billion-dollar global industry.

The three-year course of study is aimed at high-school students and young people looking for the right BA program. The concentration on sports management includes several modules, such as sports marketing and management, facility management, and sports law. Students learn what it takes to succeed on the field with courses in sports psychology and personnel/coaching team management. As they progress through their studies, students get more chances to specialize in a particular field of interest, culminating in a thesis where they explore the aspects of sports they are most passionate about.

By the time you graduate, you'll be primed to kickstart a successful career in your dream industry. Graduates of the program can work as sports agents, sports managers, event coordnators, marketing professionals, and more.

The admissions team is always on hand to answer questions or guide applicants through the application process. Plus, they can also arrange campus visits where you can speak to professors, mingle with students, and get the full UNYP experience.

So if you want to outpace all others in sports management, take the first move to your career in the industry with UNYP today!

Article written in association with the University of New York in Prague.

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University of New York in Prague (UNYP)
Ashley Murphy


After graduating with a degree in English literature and creative writing, Ashley worked as a bartender, insurance broker, and teacher. He became a full-time freelance writer in 2016. He lives and writes in Manchester, England.