Some athletically gifted people are destined for a lucrative career in sports, but there also are plenty of sports jobs that do not take place on the court or field.
If you just called up Rivals.com to discover you are projected to be drafted in the first round of the National Basketball Association draft, congratulations on what promises to be a lucrative sports career. But even if an athletic talent shortage will prevent you from playing professional sports, there are plenty of career opportunities for individuals who wish to work around the athletic contests that they enjoy. Playing a sport well, or playing a sport at all, is not required.
For most sports careers, the biggest requirement is passion. Consider the comments of Dick Vitale, who has spent a life in college basketball, first coaching the sport he loved and then reaching fame in providing television analysis on ESPN.
“I can’t run, can’t jump, can’t shoot,” Vitale, a 2008 inductee into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame, told the Kansas City Star. “But I’m in nine halls of fame because of enthusiasm, spirit, and energy. That’s a trademark I learned at my home.”
Sports Business Overview
One of the largest industries in the United States, sports business is estimated to be $213-billion annual industry by SportsBusiness JJournal.According to the magazine, that figure is twice the size of the United States auto industry and seven times the size of the movie industry.
SportsBusiness Journal lists the biggest business areas as:
- Advertising, $27.43-billion
- Spectator spending, 26.17-billion
- Sporting goods, $25.62-billion
- Operating expenses, $22.98-billion
Also included in the breakdown is money generated through pari-mutuel and legal sports gambling, media coverage, sponsorships, medical, travel, professional services, media rights, licensed goods, facility construction, and endorsements.
There are few spots for professional athletes, but there are many opportunities working with both amateur and professional athletes. Just a few of these careers include coaching, officiating, training, weight training, sports agent, and athletic trainer/medical positions.
There are many broadcast and print media opportunities in sports coverage. Sports information directors compile statistics and media guides. Sports writers provide information and analysis for fans. Cameramen and photographers also capture the event. Television announcers provide immediate information. Sports media also offers behind-the-scenes positions like producers, directors, print and broadcast editors, and statisticians.
Teams and leagues offer many of the positions found at any other business: general managers, lawyers, accountants, travel coordinators, security, video coordinators, and other positions. Some jobs are more specific to sports, like scouts, ticket managers, stadium facility managers, and field superintendents.
Besides ticket-buying fans, sports revenues are fueled by advertising and sponsorships. These ventures provide even more job opportunities from both the team side and the advertiser side.
Sports Equipment Opportunities
Other off-field opportunities involve sporting goods and apparel. Teams and players need shoes, uniforms, and gear. This provides jobs in everything from making the equipment to marketing and selling it.
In the last decade, a growth area in sports has been social media, in support of other media and as stand-alone entities creating new content. It can be an especially inviting area for young digital natives who can leverage their social media experience and advance relatively quickly.
This article was updated by Rich Campbell