Long gone are the days of sports managers being limited to jobs at professional sport franchises, collegiate sport programs, or recreational sport staff. As the sports industry continues to grow and evolve at a rate that has eclipsed traditional business, sports employers are seeking to add talent who have the experience and credentials to become value-added members of their organizations.
Today, the sports industry has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and, as a result, a variety of nontraditional career paths have emerged. To meet the demands of this ever-changing marketplace, sports management professionals have ventured into careers such as blogging, philanthropy, and social networking analytics.
Blogging Expands the Field of Sports Journalism
As sports fans have transitioned from print media to digital media, a new market has surfaced: one in which sports bloggers are able to gain increased visibility and create a niche for themselves by marketing their work via social media. With the rise of this new market, digital media conglomerates such as ESPN began viewing sports bloggers and their millions of active followers as ready-made partnerships which could help build the brand of the flagship organization. With major brands on board, sports blogging has not only become a reputable profession, but has also been recognized as a successful means of business development and entrepreneurship.
Philanthropic Engagement Gains Importance
As sports business organizations seek to engage with their respective customer bases, social philanthropy initiatives have become increasingly prevalent—and increasingly popular as a career option. For example, some leagues have been opening football clubs in poor, developing areas, while others are encouraging fans to support social causes. A career in philanthropy offers individuals an opportunity to make an immediate impact and give back. It also provides a means for them to establish a connection with the larger sports community.
It's a Numbers Game
With the rise of social media, sports managers with experience in analytics have become highly targeted by organizations seeking to engage new consumer target markets. As social networking analytics plays more of a role in data-driven decision-making, data analysts have the opportunity to use their expertise to secure jobs in the marketplace. Many sports businesses and associated organizations have embraced the practice of analyzing social media data from popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to uncover insights and find new avenues of engagement with their customer base.
Opportunities in fields such as sports blogging, philanthropy, and social networking analytics are just a few examples of emerging career paths within the sports industry. As the industry continues to evolve, the list of nontraditional roles for a sports manager will only grow longer.
Daniel G. Kelly II, Ph.D.
Daniel G. Kelly II, Ph.D., is the Faculty Director for the Master’s in Sports Industry Management at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown, Dr. Kelly was the Director of the Sport Management Program at Wilmington College (OH).