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Question: What Can You Do with a Sports Management Degree?

Answer: Graduates from sports management degree programs can find work in a number of areas associated with sports, sports entertainment, and recreation businesses, including but not limited to: facilities and human resources management; marketing and public relations; event planning and coordination; brand development and management; and equipment and apparel sales. Sports management programs may also prepare students for careers in amateur, collegiate, and professional athletics, as coaches, managers, agents, and scouts.

What is Sports Management?

Sports management encompasses the specialized knowledge and specific practices associated with running sports, sports entertainment, and recreational organizations. These organizations may operate by many of the same rules and principles as other ventures. But they do so in an environment that presents unique challenges and opportunities, and that requires a familiarity with the needs of sports organizations, the laws and regulations pertaining to amateur and professional sports, and the market forces that govern supply and demand of sports products and services. Sports management represents a rational system for studying and understanding these factors and how they contribute to the successful functioning of sports and sports entertainments businesses and organizations.

What Students in a Sports Management Degree Program Learn

Sports management degree programs, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, are designed to prepare students for careers in the field by providing instruction in areas like sports marketing and economics, legal issues in amateur and professional sports, the structure of sports organizations, and the sports entertainment media environment. Students in these programs typically learn to apply theories of finance, communication, and marketing to management issues in sports organizations. They also study media technologies, contract law, and social science research methodologies as they apply to sports. In addition, a sports management degree program may offer students the option of targeted coursework in areas like NCAA regulations and Title IV in collegiate sports; the laws and practices that govern professional sports leagues like the NFL, NHL, HBA, and MLB; and the structure of sports media organizations like ESPN.

A typical sports management degree program at the master’s level might include courses in the following subject areas:

  • Sports Finance & Economics
  • Sports Law, Contracts, & Negotiations
  • Sports & Media Technologies
  • Media & Public Relations in Sports
  • Sports Marketing & Brand Management
  • Research Methods in Sports Management
  • Social Responsibility & Ethical Consideration in Sports

Careers in Sports Management

The professional and amateur athletes who compete in various sports, the coaches who directly train and manage the players, and the national media members who cover sporting events are the most visible members of the sports industry. But there are layers upon layers of other jobs and responsibilities that are integral to the larger sports and sports entertainment business, which accounts for billions of dollars of revenue annually in the US alone, and over a trillion worldwide. At the professional and collegiate levels, there are front office employees who manage the finances of an organization, marketing professionals who oversee brand development, public relations specialists who coordinate media campaigns, and others who work within and outside of an organization to plan events, make travel arrangements, maintain facilities, negotiate contracts, set up partnerships, and perform many other jobs that are integral to managing a sports organization.

In addition to professional and collegiate sports organizations, there are many other types of recreational and sports entertainment businesses and organizations that are part of the larger field of sports management. These include sports equipment and apparel companies; youth sports organizations; parks and recreation agencies; and private fitness businesses like gyms, tennis clubs, and golf courses. A degree in sports management offers grounding in the general knowledge required to navigate these fields, and may provide specialized training in skills pertaining to one or more of the following employment opportunities in the sports and sports entertainment business:

  • Professional sports teams
  • Collegiate sports teams
  • Amateur sports leagues
  • The US and International Olympic Committees
  • Sports media companies
  • Sports apparel and equipment companies
  • Sports agents and player representatives
  • Parks and recreation agencies
  • Recreational clubs and resorts
  • Sports marketing firms

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