Sports Management Majors are among the fastest growing programs being offered at Colleges and Universities across the country. Thousands of high schools are in on the action as well, offering Sports Management and Sports Marketing classes as electives. The demand is sky high and it makes sense: The content is interesting, the idea of working in sports is FUN, and the category, in general, is considered to be one of the fasting growing career fields. Baseball, Hockey, Basketball, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer… the list of professional franchises in the United States and beyond that employ front office staff members goes on and on. And it branches; oh does it branch. Minor League Baseball, Minor League Hockey, Development League Basketball, assorted Football Leagues… there’s even a Minor League Golf Tour. With all of these teams and leagues there MUST be jobs available, right? The answer is yes, and no.
“The idea of working in sports is FUN”
I am fortunate in my line of work to have the opportunity to visit with Sports Management and Sports Marketing classes across Connecticut. Via Skype and Facetime, across the country. I always begin a class visit by asking how many students in the room want to work in sales. The answer is almost always the same. None. The vast majority of students want to work in Marketing, PR & Social Media, the others want to work in operations. And by operations, I do mean become the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox. And herein lies the problem: It’s a numbers game. There are only 30 Major League General Managers, after all.
This past December, I interviewed 117 candidates for 3 open positions, while at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings. Of those 117, 3 expressed interest in working in sales. The next day, when I scheduled a second round of interviews, all 3 candidates had already been offered full-time positions with other clubs. Of the roughly 500+ jobs being advertised at the Winter Meetings, less than 100 were tied to operations, pr & social media. How does this translate to a team, to an office? There are 25 full-time front office employees in my office. Of those 25, only 3 hold positions that DO NOT require sales in some way, shape or form. While these instances are particular to Minor League sports (meaning there are more operations types of jobs in the majors) the GROWTH being touted is IN the Minors. There are only 30 MLB teams, 30 NBA teams, 30 NHL teams and 32 NFL teams. That is fewer than the total number of affiliated Minor League Baseball teams alone.
If you are willing to explore a career in sales, you WILL be hired directly out of college. You WILL likely make more money than your few peers who find work in a non-sales field. You WILL have the opportunity to affect your geography. You WILL field multiple offers, from multiple organizations.
“If you are willing to explore a career in sales, you WILL be hired directly out of college.”
And yet, SALES is not being emphasized in most Sports Management Curricula. Forget interesting, forget fun, how about relevant? Do colleges & universities not OWE it to their students to put them in the best possible position to obtain a degree after graduation? Parents across the country would say “yes”, not to mention SALLIE MAE.