The sports industry continues to grow exponentially year in and year out. As the industry expands, new jobs are created at a rapid pace, resulting in a growing demand for sports management majors at universities throughout the nation. This rise in popularity has left many Bruins wondering why UCLA doesn’t offer a sports management major.

Sports management serves as an excellent way for sports enthusiasts with business mindsets to enter the field. There are countless different avenues within sports management that professionals can take, causing this field to continuously broaden. The global sports industry is thriving, with a market value of $488.5 billion in 2018, according to an LSU study. Recently, the national Sports Global Market Opportunities and Strategies to 2022 forecasts this number to grow to $614.1 billion by 2022. A rise in sports sponsorships, Esports and a multitude of different sports networks have all contributed to this growth. 

As the industry continues to grow, trained professionals must be groomed and master the ins and outs of the sports world. These professionals are expected to possess a wide range of managerial skills in subjects such as finance, law, analytics, human resources and many other traditional business competencies but with a specific focus on the unique dynamics sports offer. The sports industry no longer relies on mainstream business professionals, but is instead looking to develop industry specialists, ready to further develop and understand this sector of work. These specialists should be prepared to manage athletes, create wealth through marketing and sales strategies, and manage staff for national sport organizations and global companies associated with the sport. It is a rapidly developing industry, with hundreds and thousands of new jobs and new types of jobs being created. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the industry to grow roughly 9-13% by 2025 and increase from an evaluation of $60.5 billion in 2014 to over $75 billion in 2021. The opportunities within this industry are plentiful.

There are many different jobs that classify under the umbrella of sports management. Without requiring athletic talent, these industry professionals can work in marketing, facilities management, sales, law, accounting, and business development. In addition, they might work for professional sports teams, universities, sports leagues, equipment manufacturers, or marketing agencies. 

One of the most common jobs a sports professional might delve into is an account manager. Account Managers are responsible for maintaining and building the relationships their teams have with corporate sponsors. Account managers handle partnerships with sponsors by implementing promotional campaigns, advertising, retail strategies, and event programming. Account managers in sports may use game tickets, specials events, player appearances, and stadium signage to personalize and incentivize sponsor partnerships while promoting brand awareness. This career pathway has a median income of $118,000 and is suitable for those with strong backgrounds in social media and technology.

Another common job within the industry is a sports agent, or a professional who helps athletes manage the aspects of their careers not concerned with athletic performance. Sports agents help athletes negotiate contracts, deal with legal issues, and manage their money. Since many professional athletes are public figures, sports agents also help them manage their images. Sports agents should possess strong foundations in business, finance, law, communications and public relations. Agents can choose to operate independently or with an agency and they make a median income of $110,000 with exponential room for growth. 

Different industry professionals also choose to work in countless other positions. Jobs such as athletic directors, sports facilities managers, financial managers, public relations, sports media and broadcasting are just a few of the many more jobs to choose from. Most of these jobs require a sports management, business/economics, communications, marketing or law degree and both business school and law school are said to drastically improve your chances for success in this cutthroat business. 

Multi-billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban, however, doesn’t believe that sports management is a valuable major and in fact discourages students from going down that path. He believes that learning sales and marketing will be far more beneficial within the sports industry as well as far more applicable in the rest of the business world. Cuban finds that the sports management majors are slightly too narrow and restrictive and unable to advance young professionals careers as effectively. Cuban summed it all up by saying, “Teach kids sports management and you improve their chances of getting a job at Fridays.”

John Quinones, Vice-President of Recruitment at the MLB agrees with Cuban. He understands how valuable sales are in both sports and business and how majoring in sports management can restrict your future options. Quinones values real experience and sales practice over the specificity behind a sports management degree. 

“I agree with Cuban that learning sales skills are paramount to success,” Quinones said. “Let’s focus on ticket sales careers. I think it demonstrates to employers that you are willing to really do whatever it takes to break into the sports industry. A lot of people come into my office and I ask them what they aspire to do and a lot of them will tell me that I want to be a GM of a baseball team. Ok…so there are only 30 of those jobs. How can you then prove that you are willing to do whatever it takes. I like people coming up from the minor leagues. I will ask them, ‘have you been the mascot? Will you sell tickets one day?’ Because to me that is saying that you love being around the game of baseball. That really proves that to me.”

While countless sports enthusiasts at UCLA yearn for a sports business major, Mark Cuban would argue that it isn’t the end of the world. Instead, learn the fundamentals of business, sales, marketing or law and find a way to apply those skills to this expanding industry. Furthermore, gaining hands-on internship experience for a sports franchise or business is an exceptional way of improving professional skills and developing necessary networking skills, pivotal to the industry. Regardless of your specific aspirations, sports management is an inviting industry to delve into as it continues to expand financially into the future. And joining the Bruin Sports Business Association might just be your first step on your journey towards sports agent, account manager, coach, or even general manager.

Athletes dedicate their entire lives to their sports. From as long as many of them can remember to when their bodies ultimately tell them it is time to call it a career, athletes train tirelessly and put every fiber of their being into their sport. So, when that day finally comes to hang those cleats up, it can be a very difficult time in an athlete’s life and an even more strenuous transition to the next phase of their life. 

First of all, many athletes experience a huge shock in their transition to a much less structured day-to-day routine. Accustomed to packed training schedules, highly regulated diets, and countless sponsorship meetings/events, newly retired athletes struggle to adjust. While it may seem as if these athletes would feel liberated by this newfound freedom, many athletes report feeling lost without it. 

Another thing that these newly retired athletes struggle with is a lack of immediate feedback that they are used to receiving. Throughout their careers, athletes’ efforts are consistently recognized, dates of upcoming competitions are always known, and hundreds of important statistics are watched closely and compared with previous measurements. This allows athletes to always understand the level of fitness they are at and monitor the progress they are making. Many athletes are fueled by this sense of training and progress, meaning life after retirement can feel just a little too stagnant. 

Furthermore, many athletes report lost feelings of identity after retirement. Most athletes have dedicated so much of their lives training, that their sport has become an integral part of who they are. They struggle to see who they are outside of their sport and find it difficult to choose a new career, especially one they feel is suited for. This lack of belonging leads many newly retired athletes to face depression and struggle with their mental health. Olympians in particular, report a sense that they were on top of the world performance-wise, and struggle coping with the fact that they will most likely never be able to feel that way again and never play the sport they loved in a competitive environment ever again. 

While athletes navigate these difficult times, it helps them to focus on the assets that helped them make it this far. Most athletes advertise their strong stamina, work ethic, resilience, competitive spirit, and ability to be good team players during their career transition. Most importantly, however, athletes must recognize that this transition will take time, according to British rower Elise Laverick Sherwell. 

I think people try and rush it too much,” Sherwell said in an Olympic interview. “They feel they have to do something, and they panic. Whereas actually, if you give yourself six months to detrain and not be so hyped up and emotional, you can transition more smoothly. You’re not going to change yourself in five minutes to become a new person.”

Additionally, US Rower Anne Martin believes that it is important for athletes to dedicate their skills and talents to other avenues that they are passionate about.

“If you were an elite athlete, you have certain characteristics you need an outlet for, like competition and learning and feedback,” Martin said in an Olympic interview. “I think what helped me was going to school, which was a lot of the same things, and then later into a career. Find something else you are passionate about and channel yourself into it—a career, nonprofit work, a different sport on the side.”

In an effort to remain connected with the sports industry, many athletes aim to go into coaching or broadcasting after their retirement. Many of the greatest coaches throughout soccer, basketball, baseball, and football were once some of the greatest players on the field. Coaching allows athletes to maintain a sense of belonging and connection to the sport they love and have dedicated so much of their lives to. It also allows them to continue the same quest that all athletes have, to win another championship. On the other hand, many athletes such as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tony Romo opt to go into broadcasting instead. This allows them to continue to be immersed in the sports environment, constantly surrounded by their friends and fellow athletes, as well as maintain their role in the sport they love. Broadcasting is becoming an increasingly more popular post career job for athletes across all of the global sport’s networks. 

While some athletes choose to stay within the industry, many others find it’s time to branch out away from sports. Some athletes go back to school in order to get a degree and begin working in more traditional fields such as business, medicine, writing, and more. Other athletes utilize and monetize their platform of national fame as a source of income. And finally, many athletes tend to create and operate their own philanthropic organizations during or after their careers. Every athlete tends to deal with the transition of retirement differently. Some of them struggle through this loss of identity, while others are more quickly able to redirect their lives. Regardless, retirement is a monumental moment in all athletes’ lives, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new, oftentimes difficult chapter of life. 

Roughly one year ago today, the entire world was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown orders were put in place and sporting competitions were entirely shut down, both nationally and internationally. Besides the major soccer, basketball, baseball, and other leagues being affected, two major sporting events were also canceled. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2020 UEFA European Championship were canceled last summer, however, now with the improved COVID rates across most of the globe, these two monumental sporting events are set to occur.

Sports fans across the world are eagerly awaiting this summer of sports and it is finally ready to begin in just under one month. The 2021 UEFA European Championship will take place from June 11 to July 11, hosted by 11 different cities throughout Europe including Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Rome, St. Petersburg, Seville, Spain, London, Munich, Glasgow, Bucharest, and Baku Azerbaijan. Currently, the favorites of this tournament are considered to be Belgium, France, Germany, and Portugal. France’s roster remains mostly unchanged from their 2018 World Cup Winning side, however, their path to the finals is referred to as “the group of death.” Based on a random draw, France, Germany, and Portugal were all placed into the same group and while all three of them could hypothetically advance, it is much more probable that only two of them will. Kevin De Bruyne’s Belgium team, on the other hand, has a much easier path and could be looking for vengeance after their defeat to France in the 2018 World Cup Semi-Finals. Soccer fans around the world are eager to see which international powerhouse goes down first.

Besides the tournament favorites, teams such as Netherlands and England appear to have the best shot at winning. Both teams have strong veteran presences as well as new, young talent. These two teams are serious contenders and look to advance further this summer than their past few abysmal campaigns.
Showcasing some of the world’s greatest talents, this tournament is the second most prestigious in soccer, second only to the World Cup. Players such as Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne, Christiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, and Virgil Van Dijk are eager to prove their dominance. This level of competition is everything soccer fans have been waiting for since the pandemic began.
Following the UEFA European Championship, the world’s eyes will turn to the Olympic Games. The Olympic Organizing committee believes that the 2021 Olympics will become a symbol of resilience and unity after a tumultuous, pandemic-filled year that devastated so many people across the world. They are hopeful that the Olympics can represent the end of this overly difficult 12 months.

“Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic Flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel,” the Olympic organizing committee said.”
With detailed safety procedures finally laid in place for the Olympic games, it seems as if few obstacles could get in the way now. With the games running from July 23rd to August 8th, fans have already begun getting excited about the fascinating storylines soon to be played out in Tokyo. Many Americans are saddened to bid farewell to Simone Biles, arguably the greatest gymnast of all time. Biles earned four gold medals in Rio and is competing in six events in her second and final Olympic Games, once again leading the dominant U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team. Biles will look to conclude her career in historic fashion, without an all-around defeat for eight years.

Another storyline Americans are monitoring is how the U.S. Swimmers will fare without recently retired legend and one of the greatest Olympians of all time, Michael Phelps. Professional analysts believe, however, that the U.S. swimming domination will continue in 2021 led by star swimmer Caeleb Dressel. Dressel will be expected to go for 7 gold medals in Tokyo, just one shy of Phelp’s historic Beijing campaign. Additionally, Simone Manuel, the first black female swimmer to win a title for the U.S., has a chance for six gold medals this summer. Between Dressel and Manuel, as well as Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte, Ryan Murphy, Regan Smith and Lilly King, America should add some silverware to their esteemed swimming trophy display.

Additionally, in track and field, America looks to present the world with a potential Usain Bolt successor. Christian Coleman, was the world’s fastest sprinter in 2017, 2018, 2019 and entered 2020 as the Olympic favorite. Now, pending a missed drug test, Coleman will look to bring back the gold for the United States. Furthermore, Noah Lyles who was just 0.31 seconds short of Bolt’s world record, looks to earn three gold medals as well. Finally, Allyson Felix bids for her fifth Olympic team and first since becoming a mother. With nine medals, Felix stands just one shy of Carl Lewis’ record for a U.S. track and field athlete. History is set to be made at these upcoming Olympic games and it looks as if the United States will have yet another successful campaign, especially amongst the female athletes. The Women’s National Team looks to rebound after four years ago’s quarterfinals exit vs Brazil last Olympics and Sue Bird is competing to become the first basketball player, of any gender, to win 5 gold medals.

All the eyes in the world will be on these two international competitions this summer. Sports fans worldwide are overwhelmingly excited after an exhaustingly difficult COVID year.

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) have recently reached the big leagues. Spreading rapidly throughout the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and more, NFT’s appear to be the future. However, they are surrounded by question marks. Some experts believe NFTs will remain the future of investing, while others wonder if the bubble is set to pop.

A non-fungible token is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent and own items such as art, GIFs, videos and sports highlights, collectibles, virtual avatars, and video game skins, designer sneakers, and music, thus creating digital scarcity. They are bought and sold online, most frequently with cryptocurrency, and are generally encoded with the same underlying software. Originally created in 2014, NFT’s have recently exploded in popularity as a way to buy and sell digital artwork. 

According to Forbes, $174 million had been spent on NFTs from 2017 to 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, a staggering $2 billion have been spent on NFTs, including a record-setting $69 million on Beeple’s Everyday—The First 5000 Days. American billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban believes that Generation Z’s dependency on the internet and phones is a leading cause of this spike in NFT sales. 

“The crypto natives, particularly Gen Z, their most valuable assets are on their phone,” Cuban said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “Unless you have a house or a car, everything that you value, your brand is your Instagram, or Snapchat, or TikTok account. Everything that you’ve ever captured in your life that you find dear to you, you keep on your phone. That’s why people my age don’t fully understand that this is not a transition, this is not hard, this is natural.”

Typical forms of NFTs include iconic clips from NBA games or securitized versions of digital art. While any individual with access to the internet can still view these items, an NFT allows an individual to own the item. When purchasing an NFT, you receive a built-in authentication to serve as proof of ownership. These digital bragging rights are almost worth more than the actual item itself.

While NFTs could serve as a lucrative investment going forward, their future value is unknown and some experts don’t believe that they are worth the money. An NFT’s value is based solely on what someone else is willing to pay for it, meaning that demand will drive its price fluctuations, unlike how fundamental, technical, and economic indicators influence the stock market. This unfortunately means that an NFT may resell for less than the purchasing price. So, with NFT’s uncertain future, it is clear that they are a risky, but potentially lucrative investment. In order to benefit regardless, NFTs are best if the specific token has a certain special meaning to the buyer.

There are many other downsides to NFTs as well. The blockchain verification process requires a substantial amount of energy and is damaging to the environment. The environmental footprint of selling an NFT artwork versus a physical copy is 100 times larger. Additionally, one artist canceled the sale of 6 of his works of art once he calculated that those sales would use the same amount of energy in 10 seconds as his studio apartment did in two years. Another potential downside to NFTs is that there is a danger of a speculative bubble. In other words, NFTs could be rendered valueless if this bubble were to burst. 

One organization spearheading this NFT movement is the NBA. Recently, they released NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based platform that allows fans to buy, sell and trade numbered versions of specific, officially licensed video highlights. They started this concept to transform fan-favorite, unforgettable highlights into a new category of collectibles. They place each highlight into digital packs, just like regular trading cards, and sell the packs on the official NBA Top Shot website for prices ranging from $9 to $230. The pack prices depend on the quality of highlight, the stardom level of the player and the exclusiveness of the card. Once you purchase a pack, those highlights go into your encrypted, secure highlight wallet to be showcased or re-sold on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace. This is also serving as the NBA’s newest means of marketing and customer engagement as all of the hype surrounding NFTs has proven to be increasingly beneficial for the NBA. It looks as if NFTs are the future of this industry, but at this point, only time will tell.

The European Soccer League (ESL), a $5.5 billion global soccer competition created on April 18, 2021, has come to a screeching halt just 48 hours later. In an attempt to save and revolutionize soccer, the ESL was not well received, quickly enduring an onslaught of criticism from players, managers, fans, and soccer’s governing bodies alike. While the ESL is officially a thing of the past, it would have reimagined the world’s most popular sport in a drastic fashion. 

The ESL was a newly proposed soccer league in which 20 football clubs would leave The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in order to compete in a midweek European competition, which would have rivaled the UEFA Champions League. Of the ESL’s 20 teams, 15 of them would have a permanent spot in the league, while 5 other teams across Europe’s top six leagues would compete for the remaining spots. In essence, the ESL was a gated community of teams who no longer wanted to compete for money and trophies with other UEFA clubs they felt were beneath them. The ESL planned to feature six English clubs, three Spanish clubs, and three Italian clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus. To many people’s surprise and disappointment, last year’s Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain weren’t proposed members of this new league. They were asked to join but declined long before the 30-day deadline. 

Real Madrid President, Florentino Perez, announced that the European Super League was created in order to save football and help it economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Perez noted that young people are no longer interested in watching soccer as much due to the number of low-quality games throughout the world’s top leagues. Perez believed that the ESL would help solve this issue and restore soccer’s global domination within the sports industry while generating large amounts of revenue via highly lucrative television deals. However, the majority of the soccer world stood in opposition.

This plan encountered stark criticism and elicited strong controversy for a number of reasons. First and foremost, many of the ESL critics deemed that having 15 teams safe from regulation would devalue the game, making it unfair and uncompetitive. It would allow those 15 teams to share the league’s lofty total of prizes and profits, leaving the rest of Europe’s teams fighting over the table’s scraps. For example, Arsenal hasn’t made the Champions League since the 2016-2017 season and yet they would have been permanently qualified for the utmost elite soccer league, effectively stripping the fluctuating, balanced format of European soccer. Additionally, the top six European leagues would have certainly declined in talent, value, and revenue flows for each team whilst also crumbling the Champions League. 

Most players and teams also quickly spoke out against the European Super League as they felt blindsided and betrayed. William Bowyer, a solicitor in the Sports and Entertainment team at Mackrell Solicitors, explained to Al Jazeera the potential repercussions of this failed deal, including the monumental effect it would have had on the World Cup, the second-largest sporting event in the world. 

“One of the key stakeholders, the players, appear to have been left behind in the thoughts of the clubs,” added Bowyer. “There are likely to be issued with the existing playing contracts should clubs breach their league, UEFA or FIFA rules. It would have put the players in a position to obtain legal advice on where they stand should they participate in the ESL and also be prevented from playing in Euros or a future World Cup.” 

Additionally, the vast majority of clubs throughout the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A League instantly spoke out against this proposition. The Everton public relations team released a powerful announcement regarding the matter.

“Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs. Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests. Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game. Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table. Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond. At this time of national and international crisis – and a defining period for our game – clubs should be working together collaboratively with the ideals of our game and its supporters uppermost. Instead, these clubs have been secretly conspiring to break away from a football pyramid that has served them so well. We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be.”

Besides the players, teams, managers, and soccer’s leading governing bodies, soccer fans around the world also immediately protested this development. The leaders of the ESL experienced a ferocious backlash from fans staging protests and rallies outside Europe’s major stadiums. The fans carried signs and chanted slogans in order to prove how intensely the wider soccer community opposed this new deal. Within 48 hours, the uproar surrounding this league was made clear, featured in headlines throughout the most powerful global news sources. Quickly, the teams in the ESL heeded the world’s warnings and dropped out of the league, effectively putting an end to this revolutionary, failed concept. Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, is relieved that the European Super League has failed and is now looking ahead, ready to move forward.

“The important thing now is that we move on,” Ceferin said. “We need to rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this, and move forward together.”