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.