How To Get a Job in Sports

How to get a job in sports - self identity, networking
Looking for a job in sports? Consider these tips below. Photo of Safeco Field, Home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle, WA

Happy 2015! I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last posted on Bill’s Sports Business Blog and I apologize to you, my readers. Right about the time I stopped posting, was also the time things at my last sports business job got crazy. A couple people in my office ended up leaving for other opportunities and it turns out I ended up leaving a few weeks later too! Yup, Bill got a new job. As a result of all that stuff going on, I didn’t really have a lot of time to myself, which left no time for posting to the blog. I’m sorry about that readers. BUT, I do think I have some interesting advice on how to get a job in sports – or at least I hope you find this information useful, depending on where you are in your career. I figured since I am only a few months into my new job I’d offer a few tips on how to break into the industry and get a job in sports.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll target my advice to those who are looking to get a job in sports and are just getting started with their career. Certainly it helps if you are entering the early stages of your career and just getting started working in general, but some of this could apply to anyone looking to get a job in sports.

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO

First, you’ve got to figure out what you like to do and what you’re personal interests are, as there are several avenues to take. Are you a creative person? Do you enjoy art, drawing, painting? Are you a technical person who enjoys data, statistics and numbers? Are you a people person who likes talking and interacting with people on a constant basis? No matter what you like to do, there’s probably an application for your skills in sports somewhere. Consider sports information/statistics, IT, analytics, marketing, sales, ticket operations, equipment, operations, coaching, counseling and legal counsel to name a few. Some of those areas have more strict application requirements, but like I said, if you’re at the beginning of your career, the world is your oyster – or playing field…haha.

DECIDE ON WHAT LEVEL OF SPORTS BUSINESS YOU LIKE THE BEST

Where do you see yourself – really? If you really want to work in sports business, it can’t be all about the money. Sure there are some jobs that pay very well in sports, but the likelihood of you ending up in a high paying job in a short amount of time isn’t likely, so take that aspect off the table and think about what’s more important. With so many people wanting to work in sports, the competition for getting most sports jobs is as tough as the competition on the playing surface.

So – where do you see yourself, really? Did you love your little league team and find yourself managing the local club while you were a student in high school? Maybe a community organization would be a great fit. There are probably several non-profit and for-profit sport organizations in your local community – go see what they’re up to and start a conversation.

Did you enjoy playing high school sports and like how everyone came together to celebrate with their friends and family? Maybe that’s where you belong. There are more high school sports programs than probably any other level of play, so opportunity at that level seems rather abundant.

How about college sports? DI, DII or DIII? You’ve got quite a variance of experience and competition to choose from and really the only way to figure out what fits best for you would be to go see a couple of games and watch everything but the game itself. By that I mean take a careful look at how many workers are there, what the setup is like and what the game presentation is like. Another thing to consider with college sports is the size of the organization you want to work for – small, medium or large. Do you prefer to be a part of a smaller team, where everyone involved is expected to contribute to the greater good by performing many different tasks? Or do you think you’d prefer to be a part of a larger organization that requires most employees to specialize in something specific?

Next, there are the pros – the top level of competition. This is usually what people think of and dream about when they think about working in sports. If your dream was to be the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks or the general manager of the San Francisco Giants, what a great dream! Never stop dreaming, but also be realistic. The relatively small number of those types of positions makes it statistically unlikely that most people will ever advance that far in their career. That’s not to say that you can’t find enjoyment and have a great career in pro sports doing something other than being the top boss.

CONSIDER OTHER OPTIONS

Depending on what your skills are, you should also consider other ways to be involved in sports business. There are many different industries that directly support sports business or are tangential to sports business organizations. By that I mean, consider working for a venue, stadium or arena. Working for a building or building management organization is a great way to see all sides of what it takes to make events happen on a regular basis. You get to see sporting events, entertainment events, community events and a whole array of different people that make things happen. This is the type of organization I work for now and am learning new things everyday.

Another way to look at getting a job in sports is to consider being a referee. I was a referee in graduate school and absolutely loved every minute of it. It was a ton of fun being involved in the action in a very important role, plus its an excuse to stay active and in shape year round. The other thing that’s nice about being a ref is that it’s not a full time job; that way you can stay involved in sports, stay in shape, and do something else you love.

On the other hand, do forget about non-mainstream sports and endurance sports – think bowling, biking, obstacle races, running – basically sports other than football, baseball, basketball and hockey. Those areas are growing rapidly and are great options to be involved in sport in a different way. Again – it comes down to who are you, what do you like to do and where do you see yourself?

The last option I want to mention is working for an organization that supports the business of sports. There are apparel and equipment manufacturers, media organizations, consultant groups, food and beverage organizations, specialized video and game presentation organizations and numerous other ways to get a job in sports without actually being “in” sports. Think about all the different pieces that make TV games happen – well…maybe that’s difficult because you don’t know what’s out there yet, which brings me to my next point:

NETWORK AND GET TO KNOW PEOPLE

The best way, in my opinion, to get to know if a job in sports is for you is to actually go talk to someone who works in sports. Go find someone who does something related to whatever it is that you think you’re interested in and find out what they do on a day to day basis. Also find out what it took them to get where they are and how long it took. Find out what kind of education and training they have. Find out what kind of work-life balance they have. Many people say that work life balance doesn’t exist in sports, but I say those people are bitter. Of course there’s balance, there has to be or you burn out and quit. Do we work a ton of hours in sports? Yes. Do we love it? Oh yes, absolutely (most of the time). But, it does take a supportive family and a strong personal character to make it work with a family.

Long story short, go meet people and talk to them about where you are in life and where your interests lie. If you’re honestly just looking for advice, I’m sure most people would entertain your questions or at least be able to direct you to someone who can help. I would. Send me an email and signup for updates in the side column.

BOTTOM LINE

There’s no easy way to get a job in sports. It takes a lot of hard work, thoughtful action and due diligence to get what you want. So figure out your passion, apply your skills and talents and show up everyday with a positive attitude, ready to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. If you do that, regardless of whether you end up with a job in sports, you’ll find happiness. The world needs more people who are alive with their passions and do the work they love. Don’t focus so much on “I want to work in sports” but instead on “I want to find a career (not a job) that I love.” Do that and the rest will work itself out.

Thanks for reading Bill’s Sports Business Blog. For further reading on this subject, check out one of these Sports Business Books (affiliate). I hope you find something you like – I appreciate your support of my blog.

Go Forth!

The Concept of the Drip

I’ve been writing this blog on a daily basis since about the beginning of October on topics relating to sports business and hope you have found what I have written useful. Although I was writing fairly long posts at the beginning of last month, I must admit that it has become quite difficult to come up with relevant, long-form content on a regular basis. I will continue to post daily, but am always looking for ideas on which to write or provide some insight for others. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment below, send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn or send me an email.

In many ways, this blog is as much about my own growth and development as it is for you, my readers. I certainly try to make everything that I write on here beneficial to others in some way, but recognize that I haven’t provided any cold, hard facts for people to run away with and turn into profit. No, most of what I’ve written about has been at a higher level of thinking aimed at the big picture of sports business and how to do better work and do work that matters. This “50,000 thousand foot view” perspective in my writing is something we discussed on a regular basis in my graduate level marketing class and something that has stuck with me ever since.

I enjoy writing about sports business ideas from this perspective because these ideas are relevant to more people. By drilling down on what works for one organization or the other, sure it would be helpful to a select few, but until I’ve got something that is definitely ready to share on this blog, most of the writing will continue to be geared more toward the higher level and motivational type of content. If there is something specific you’d like to ask me about what works for me, please let me know. There have been a few readers who have already asked me a few questions and given me ideas; you know who you are, so don’t worry – I’m still working on your responses!

So finally after all that, what is the drip? Thanks by the way for reading this far – I appreciate you sticking around to read my blog. The drip is the idea that great work can happen by doing a little bit everyday. By showing up everyday and posting my ideas, thinking out concepts, and sharing what I know with the world, great things will happen. Maybe one of these posts will blow up and change the world forever. Maybe none of these posts will ever reach more than a few hundred or few thousand that stumble across my blog. Either way, by “dripping” everyday something of value as it relates to doing the work that I love, I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m becoming more of that which I already am.

I’ve considered how writing something and posting it online has changed me over the course of the last two months and it’s been profound, yet subtle at the same time. I find myself constantly considering new ideas and new ways of doing business, let alone – what the heck am I going to write about today!? Well, that’s the power of the drip – forcing myself to grow, learn, and articulate something I know will be for the benefit of others as well as myself.

I really hope you enjoy reading Bill’s Sports Business Blog. I’d love to hear from you, so send me a message, a tweet, or leave a comment below.

Go Forth!

On Collaboration and Teamwork

I think we’ve got a lot to learn from each other, and certainly in more ways than one. Let’s just keep this sports and work related though.

Start with your staff. If you’ve got a problem, use the people you already work with to help solve it. Engage your fellow employees from other areas of your organization in a think tank type of session to help them understand your problem in addition to the circumstances surrounding why it’s a problem in the first place. They’ll know the office politics, the economics of your situation, the resources you have to work with and will likely have a good “outside the box” perspective on your problem.

The problems with this scenario though are these:
– Most people aren’t comfortable enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and are afraid and fearful in some ways
– They don’t recognize they have problems in the first place
– Nobody has any “time” and no one makes it a priority to work together in the first place

BEING COMFORTABLE, FACE YOUR FEAR
Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but seriously, I think we all have a little of that fear in us that we might look incompetent, we might not be smart enough, or we might realize and have to face the fact that we’re not actually doing our best after all. It would take a pretty humble person to be able to honestly open themselves up that much so as to let everyone in on what they are doing – but it has to start somewhere. You can start with a few trusted colleagues and advisers and slowly expand the group you’re engaging into your work. From there, you can begin to build a culture of teamwork and collaboration – after all, we do work in athletics right? Take a lesson from your coaches.

RECOGNIZE PROBLEMS
This one is a tricky one because no one wants to be the person who is just pointing out problems all the time and not seeming like they never do anything but complain. But then if you really care about your organization you will want to do everything to greatest possible extent. Given that foundation you also have to understand where the other person is coming from, what their goals are and what they are trying to achieve. That person may be evaluated and judged based on something you don’t know about, so in their mind they are doing a great job, while you may see things differently. This is one of those things you have to evaluate yourself, use caution, and be sensitive towards.

TIME
We’ve all got the same amount of time and we’ve all got that going for us. Which is nice. So how are you making the best use of your time? Productivity is a skill that can be learned, but only with the right mindset, so yes, just like everything else in life, you must start with yourself. Make your mind up and decide what is going to be most important, then act accordingly. Discipline your mind to push further and open yourself up to working more as a team player with the best interest of advancing your organizations goals.

If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog, you already know that the topic of goals comes up frequently – and that’s because it is so incredibly important to everything you should be doing. No matter the job title or duties, all positions must be oriented in the same direction or all are doomed to fail. That’s it. Use the time you have to get things pointed in the right direction, collaborate with your staff, and develop a sense of teamwork with your peers. If nothing else, it will make going to work much more enjoyable, for which more productive outcomes will result.

Go Forth!

Subscribe to Bill’s Sports Business Blog by entering your email address in the box and leave your comments below!

What’s the Story They’re Telling Themselves?

Anytime you are trying to sell something or trying to convince someone of something you have to try to understand the story they are telling themselves. What is it that makes this person unique and how has their past gotten them to the point they are now? What background and understanding does this person have about the thing that I’m offering, or potentially offering?

Does this person care about the university?
Are they a fan of the coach?
Are they a fan of a few of the players on the team?
Did they grow up with the organization and become a fan that way?
Were they sick and in the hospital at some point in their past and were they visited by the team mascot?
What is their history and understanding of the sport itself?
Who do they usually go to games with? Family or friends or both?
Are they interested in tailgating?
What other things do they do to occupy their time?
Do they have time for all of the games over the course of the season or would a smaller plan be better?
Are they someone who only watches at home for the replays and the stats coming in from various sources?

These are all questions relative to a sales conversation that must at least be in the back of your mind when talking to someone new about what it is that you’re offering. If their story doesn’t somehow line up with yours, then its probably best to just move on to the next conversation. Don’t waste your time trying convince someone who probably won’t change anyway, especially with the reality that there are others on your list who really do want what it is that you’re offering. Find the people that want what you have and have the need for your solution.

The same principle applies with customer service – what’s the story they are telling themselves? When someone calls to complain, where are they coming from? What state of mind were they in when the bad thing happened? What have their past experiences been like that led them to the point they are now? You’re not going to convince someone of something unless you can learn the other parts of their story. Doing so gives you a foundation from which to start developing a positive outcome.

Learn the story your customers are telling themselves and help them complete that story with an ending you can offer. What do you think?

Go Forth!

If you enjoyed this post – please share it with your friends and enter your email address to the right for instant updates on future posts.