Dave Meltzer discusses how to get a job in sports.

Get a Job In Sports: General Manage Your Life

How To Get a Job In Sports

I’m blessed to speak at various universities around the world, from the undergraduate to the graduate level, and the first question that I ask students is, “Who thinks it’s difficult to get a job in sports?” Usually, every single kid raises their hand. In response, I tell them that it’s my goal to re-engineer that vision during the next 60 minutes. I want to prove to them that getting a job in sports is not only a possibility, but it is actually a probability. With the appropriate perspective (combining desire, skills, and knowledge), aspiring sports business professionals can make their dream a reality.

SportsBiz Tools: Skills, Knowledge, and Desire

Sports is actually one of the easiest industries to break into as a young professional. You only need to focus in on three different things in order to make it happen. First, you need to analyze whether you have the desire to work in sports. The answer is almost always yes. Most people love some form of sport and have the desire to spend time around what they love.

The second key factor is whether or not you have the knowledge to work in the industry. This is where being more interested than interesting comes into play. You have to learn about what professions apply to the sport that you love and gain the knowledge of how these professionals monetize sports. You must scrutinize whether is it a job that pays good money to perform in that space and whether you get to be around the people and ideas that you are aligned with.

Finally, the third factor you need to think about are the skills needed to execute in a given job. This is where everyone gets confused and thinks that there are a scarce number of positions in sports. On its face, it is true that there are only so many general manager jobs in Major League Baseball, or so many presidents of NFL teams, or only so many league commissioners. But that’s just like saying that I want an extremely specific job, to be the CEO of Citibank, for example. There are so many jobs in the sports industry. You need just to hone in on your desires, knowledge, and skills in order to find a good fit for you.

Growing, Growing, Not Gone

This industry is growing, with employment of entertainment and sports occupations projected to grow 6% from 2014 to 2024. There is ample opportunity for those who want to work in sports. This growth means that entertainment and sports employment in the US will increase from about 781,700 jobs to about 827,000 jobs in 2024. It’s impossible to look at these numbers and have a negative view of breaking into the sports industry. And that is not even mentioning how much money there is in sports. PricewaterhouseCoopers projected that the North American sports market alone will be worth about $73.5 billion by 2019. That’s a lot of dough!

Off-Base Beliefs

These statistics are part of the reason why it is unbelievable to me that our future generation thinks it’s so difficult to get a job in sports. In fact, I think it’s easier to get a job in sports than it is to be a teacher. The problem is that everybody thinks about sports business in terms of, “I want to be Jerry Maguire or Jerry Jones.” You can choose to pursue that, but I’m here to tell you there are so many other fascinating jobs in sports that allow you to make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.

Irish Wishes

One time I was at Notre Dame, and I asked the students, “Who here has a job in sports?” I was speaking at the Sports MBA program there, and three of the attendees in the audience had a job already, even before graduating. One kid raised his hand and said he got a job with a lawn care company. He said he applied as a VP of Marketing, only to find out that it was actually a lawn care company heavily involved in sports marketing. He was going to be in charge of advertising and sponsorship budgets of millions of dollars. He was offered a six-figure salary and got to go to the country’s best sporting events, host clients, pay the big advertisers like ESPN, go to all the parties, and choose what sports he worked with. All the other students wanted to be the next GM of the Chicago Cubs, or the athletic director of Notre Dame, or a variety of other jobs with a limited number of positions. That would be like a teaching convention where everybody wanted to be the United States Secretary of Education. It’s a ridiculous perspective. Demand completely exceeds supply.

Step Up To The Plate in SportsBiz

Getting a job in sports is a simple task if you approach it the right way. You just need to have the desire along with the combined skills and knowledge that are applicable to sports business. Work on developing skill sets that are aligned with the profession that you want to be in, and do research to find appropriate fits in the sports industry. There are billions of dollars and millions of jobs in the sports industry. You just need to have the “balls” (pun intended) to go out and make your dream a reality.

By: Dave Meltzer

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