Regarding sports and athletics, there’s more to the game than the people on the court. Coaching, training, mental health, analytics, marketing, and administrative tasks all play a vital role in the success of any sporting organization. Though they may not share in the fame or fortune of the players on the court, their impact remains measurable and visible.
A sports manager or administrator is responsible for overseeing the forms of functions of leadership with professional, collegiate, and amateur athletic organizations. Whereas the athletes are responsible for the on-court antics, the sports managers do everything else. These include the coaching staff, trainers, administrators, legal team, and research analysts, that all bring out the best in every player.
Any sports enthusiast will tell you that managers are the heart and soul of every team. The players may be the ones to play on the field, but the managers make sure that everything is set up for the athletes to perform their best. On-field and off-field, their jobs never stop.
These are the people in charge of providing the training programs, ensuring the organization’s compliance from a legal and financial perspective, and generating interest for the team and club in local communities.
Other Important Roles In The World Of Athletics
There are also many other roles that fall under the large umbrella of sports and athletics. For highly competitive and world-renown sports, many teams decide to employ individuals who can dive into the analytics behind a team or individual’s performance. These individuals can spot trends and identify opportunities to make teams or athletes better at their craft.
Over the past few years, there has also been a much more in-depth focus on mental health within athletics. The performance of an athlete and team is often directly tied to their mental and emotional health, and professionals such as sports psychologists can help athletes achieve peak performance both on and off the field.
A sports management and administration degree provides you with the core skills and competencies to thrive as part of the supporting cast. It equips its holders with the business acumen needed to decide on the next course of action, the marketing skills required to promote their team, and the legal understanding of how to do this in a heavily-regulated environment.
Sports kinesiology, training, and exercise science all play important roles in making sure that athletes are in top physical shape. These individuals can help to optimize an athlete’s life from both an exercise and nutrition perspective in order to achieve better performance.
Sports Management vs. Administration
Make no mistake, a degree in sports management or administration remains relatively synonymous. Many people assume that the two degrees are one and the same. Though their overarching goal is similar, to improve the overall functionality of the team, they do have key differences that should be discussed; here they are below:
While the two careers are often treated as one and the same, sports managers and administrators actually focus on different areas within the organization.
Sports Administration focuses on the business side of things: the category includes marketing for athletic organizations, ticket sales, and developing business relationships. Of course, this includes the accounting, finance, and human resources side of things. Basically, everything to ensure that the team directly involved with them can focus on improving their talented roster. From marketing to legal, managers ensure that the team’s processes flow smoothly.
Where sports administrators shine in the background, managers are more active on the front end in dealing with the athletes themselves. They are focused on the supervision and development of athletes. This includes the coaching staff, team managers, agents, and trainers, who all directly work with the athletes to improve their performance on the court.
Given their different scopes of work, sports managers and administrators should be armed with the appropriate skill sets.
Sports managers should be inclined to the business-related aspects of sports. They should know how to conduct team marketing, be personable yet professional in dealing with team sponsors, and be authoritative enough to be listened to during press releases.
Sports administrators should have deep-seated knowledge and passion for their sport of choice. Given that they’re dealing with the athletic training program and overseeing the player’s day-to-day activities, the sports administrator should also understand kinesthetics and how the human body works – a topic that may not be covered in their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
Sports administrators should also have leadership qualities to inspire and motivate the player base. It’s tough going through consecutive days of training and matches but having an inspiring coach and staff makes this process a little bit easier.
What Are The Benefits of An Online Degree in Sports or Athletics?
Here’s a list of convincing benefits of getting an online degree in the world of sports:
Given that the Sports Market in North America, according to PwC, is estimated to grow to $83.1 billion in 2023, there seems to be ample opportunities for Sports Management degree holders. It’s excellent preparation for whatever role you want within the organization. If you’re looking to become an exec or general manager, a Sports Management degree should help make your case.
Opportunity to Follow Your Passion
Sports fans are some of the most passionate people on the planet, rarely are there ever in-betweens. For many people, a career path in Sports is the dream opportunity. If that’s your case, then no other degree will prepare you similarly. Through informative classes and true-to-life exercises, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of your favorite industry.
Travel and Experience
Playing home and away games are a staple in the sports industry. Whether you’re a coach, a trainer, or a scout, you’ll have to travel a lot throughout your career. Whether it’s for an event, a match, or other responsibilities in your role, you’ll likely be out and about a lot.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel the country and spend one or two nights in each team’s city, then an online degree in Sports Management and Administration should be one of your options.
If you’re getting an online degree, chances are you’re holding down another responsibility that requires you to take full advantage of an online program’s convenience. Whether it’s a part-time job, a side hustle, or caring for a loved one, get to do what you need while working on your future.
On top of this, online degrees are more affordable. Generally speaking, online coursework is cheaper than having face-to-face classes, given that you’re not paying for on-campus amenities and maintenance (not to mention the transportation costs of having to go to and from your class).
What Will I Learn in A Sports Focused Degree Program
Generally speaking, a sports management program includes many foundational business courses that provide sports-specific courses to help students comply with the demands of their future careers.
A Bachelor’s Degree
All in all, a Bachelor’s degree in sports management typically takes a full-time student four years to complete. This number, however, is subject to change given the accelerated and part-time options that exist in the market.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average undergraduate degree at a four-year school costs about $28,775 per year, inclusive of tuition, fees, boarding, and other utilities. Of course, taking an online version of the courses will provide students with the same learning resources and modules at a fraction of the cost.
Curriculum and Example Courses
Learning about the different curriculums and course offerings will help you make a better decision later. One tip we can give you when looking at course offerings is to imagine yourself ten years down the line and in your industry of choice, then ask yourself, “Will this course help me excel in my field?”
Here’s what you could expect to learn with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and Administration:
Organizational management is one of the core competencies of every successful sports manager/administrator. Normally construed as “leadership,” organizational management refers to the practice of gathering resources and people to work towards a specific goal. It’s a practical use case for operations research: this course aims to teach students how to minimize the time and resources used in production while maximizing output.
Sports Project Management
Aside from ensuring that the team is working towards a specific goal, a sports manager is also expected to provide logistical support for his team. This course teaches students how to ensure all tasks are done on time and within budget while creating the most entertaining experience for the consumer.
Sports Media is a genre of journalism specifically focused on the sports industry. If you’ve ever tuned in to ESPN and watched analysts debate about the greatest basketball player, then you’ll have an idea of what Sports Media does. Courses in sports media develop writing, interviewing, and reporting skills in various media formats.
Athletics and Kinesiology is another common course if you take a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management. In these courses, you’ll be provided foundational knowledge on athletics and training, including the physiology of exercise and care and prevention of sports injuries.
For A Master’s Degree
After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in sports management, you might want to pursue further studies with a Master’s degree in Sports Management and Administration. If you want to separate yourself from your peers and learn more intricate workings of the business of sports, this job is perfect for you.
Typically, a graduate degree requires a 2-year course of study but may be shortened to 18 months or lengthened to 3 years, depending on the pace of the program you select.
During your tenure as a Master’s student, your most significant expense will most likely be annual tuition and fees.
For online schools, the average annual tuition for Master’s degrees comes out to approximately $5,362 per year. An online school’s cost per credit hour lurks around $500 to $625. Take note, however, that these figures may vary depending on where you are and the schools that you take.
Curriculum and Example Courses
Of course, you’ll have to consider the courses made available to the degree to determine whether the required classes will sufficiently equip you with the skills needed to further your career. Some curriculums focus more on leadership and motivation (perfect for coaches and training staff), while other curriculums take the business-minded approach with back-end operations.
Sports marketing is a marketing niche that specifically caters to sports teams and organizations. Whereas usual marketing is normally done to sell something, the vast majority of sports revenue comes from sponsorships – so the job of a sports marketer is more to generate awareness, support, and relatability for the athletes and the team.
Fast-paced technology is the name of the game in the 21st century. As a sports manager, you’ll need a base-level understanding of all the new technology and utilize them to make processes more efficient. Just having a basic understanding of how commonly-used software should go a long way in sports management. It helps maximize the finite resources available to a manager: time, facilities, human labor, and capital.
Sports business courses develop foundational skills and knowledge focused specifically on the athletics industry. These courses will teach the student the basic principles of sales, event management, and applicable managerial and leadership principles.
Those taking on a Master’s Degree in Sports Management and Administration should, theoretically, have experience in the workplace. Business courses, then, are akin to thought exercises to improve rational thinking. With millions of people engaged with professional sports on and off the field, business courses help guide you to make smarter decisions under pressure.
Sports Analytics, involved in the analysis of player performance and business operations, is a field in its infancy. With data and analytics have become the headline industry of the 21st century, it’d be a shame to let collected data go to waste.
An intelligent manager should be able to break down the statistics and devise a strategy highlighting their advantages and shielding their weaknesses.
Although managers aren’t expected to create the data and graphs themselves, they should be able to understand any visualization presented, extrapolate important points, and generate key insights. Given their authoritative power within the organization, a good manager is also expected to exploit findings and create an advantageous strategy.
If you’re taking on a Master’s in Sports Management and Administration, you’ll likely be an executive in an organization – or, at least, aspiring to become one. Courses in public relations are given to those taking a Master’s in Sports Administration because strong media relationships are vital for any thriving sporting organization. Being the face of a team requires interpersonal skills and quick thinking. Teams that are able to incite empathy, understanding, and acceptance within their home communities directly impact ticket and merchandise sales as well as sponsorship revenue. The best athletic executives, then, are capable of maintaining a positive image even amidst controversy.
What Are The Standard Entrance Requirements To Enroll?
Sports managers need a degree to prove that they have the core competencies needed to fulfill their job. In this section, we discuss the standard entrance requirements to enroll in either a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s of sports management and administration.
For Bachelor’s Degrees
Seldom can you land an interview for a managerial position without a Bachelor’s degree. A sports management degree may not be a requirement, but it’s definitely a bonus when recruiters take a look at your resume. To get into the program, you’ll need to know the following things:
Application Process and Requirements
Each university has its own system on how students may apply for and enroll in degree programs. Some universities, for example, may begin accepting college admission applications as soon as February.
The admission process itself for a sports management program looks very similar to almost every other Bachelor’s degree program. Requirements for submission almost always include high school transcripts, college entrance exam scores, college application essays, and at least two letters of recommendation.
One may be inclined to think that being a former athlete is an added bonus in becoming a sports manager. While there may be some truth to this claim, there’s no predisposition or requirement of college admission boards towards organized competitive experience.
For Master’s Degrees
A Master of Science in Sports Management and Administration is the holy grail for any recruiter. It’s the degree of many of the sporting world’s top brass: Jennifer Tobias, Vice President of Digital Marketing for the Miami Heat; Matt Rickoff, Senior Partnership Director for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Mike Dixon, Director of Minor League Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs, are just some examples of top executives in the athletic world with a Master’s degree.
It’s not easy joining the ranks of the world’s top executives, but a Master’s Degree should get you one step closer.
Application Process and Requirements
Applicant’s for a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, and Administration should look at their chosen school’s website to see their application timeline.
The requirements for application include a Bachelor’s Degree, your transcription, a statement of purpose, a resume or CV, and a minimum of two letters of recommendation. For international applications, an English Language exam score may be required. You could visit the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE centers to check out.
To improve your chances of successfully getting into the program, here are some things you can do:
- Get letters of recommendation that focus on different things. One may focus on your excellence in the workplace, while the other may talk about your potential for growth and impact.
- Strengthen your CV with certifications revolving around sports and fitness and focus on highlighting sports leadership experiences.
- Write a statement of purpose that highlights your work experiences and sports backgrounds.
- Graduate with your Bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
Of course, none of the listed items above are absolute requirements. They simply increase the odds of you getting accepted into the program.
What Is The Career Outlook for Sports Management Professionals?
A degree in Sports Management and Administration could lead to a variety of roles and opportunities. However, no matter which league, position, or sport you pick, you can’t expect to immediately find a high-paying job right out of college.
In this section, we’ll look to set realistic expectations for your career path.
When it comes to out-of-graduation career prospects, the BLS projects an additional 900,000 management job openings between 2020 and 2030, representing great opportunities for those entering the field. As the popularity of sports increases, so will the need for professionals who specialize in this niche.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average sports manager’s salary falls around $41,706 a year, with 37% of sports managers bringing in around $28,000-$35,000 per year. The middle works out to around $20.05/hour. As with many other career paths, this figure will also be determined by where you go to work. A national sports organization affiliated with major professional leagues like the NBA and NFL will pay more than your local coaching association. That’s just the economy of this industry.
Common and Alternative Career Paths
This is likely one of the most common positions open to sports management graduates. If you know a team, then they probably have a coach. These are the people who directly work with the players to improve their performance and develop strategies to help the team win games. A coach should be able to empathize with the athletes, be patient while giving constructive feedback, and able to build a rapport with his team.
Scouts are basically “talent evaluators” who travel cross country to watch young athletes play and determine if they have the potential to go pro. Scouts may look at the talent pool of young prospects or existing professionals to fill in the team’s needs. Skilled scouts are observant, knowledgeable of their sport, and able to manage their time well. While many professional clubs now use computers to organize and collect their information, most teams depend on human scouts to decide who to draft or sign.
Under a more general umbrella, an obvious choice would be to become a sports administrator that helps ensure the smooth running of the overall organization. Think of these people as the project managers of the sporting world; they’re in charge of overseeing fundraising, budgeting, and dealing with supply chain management that often goes overlooked in the glitz and glamor of high-speed on-field action. In this job, many parts of the sector are highly commercialized, so you should be well aware of the professional and technical intricacies of the sport.