Sports management refers to all the professionals that work behind the scenes to facilitate the logistical details of sports coordinating the events, facilities, public relations, broadcasting, nutrition, and training of sports teams. If you’ve always dreamed of revolving your life around sports, but haven’t necessarily been the type to “go pro,” an online sports management degree will prepare you for a career in the major league. Athletic programs in the U.S.—particularly baseball, basketball, and football—mean big money and require specialized training to manage it successfully. You'll learn how to run a professional athletic program, fitness facility, or sports foundation. You'll develop administrative skills and will be able to plan and execute activities ranging from a summer swim club for kids to heavily-attended sporting events. Your program will give you a strong foundation in business, but will still deliver a career in sports—even if you're not out on the court.
THE CAREER PATH
Sports management careers are for professionals who are dedicated to, and passionate about, their sport and want to help the industry thrive. Your sports management degree program will prepare you for a variety of administrative roles, be it operations management, public relations, or marketing for a team or organization. After graduation you could pursue a career with a large sports program, such as an NFL team or college athletics department. Your work might include ensuring fans have an enjoyable experience, the schedule runs smoothly, and live broadcasting occurs without a hitch.
Small sports teams and athletic facilities also hire sports managers. Opportunities exist in fitness centers, health clubs, and athletic facilities. You may oversee day-to-day operations or work on special events, like an annual membership drive or athletic showcase. You could even pursue a career as a sports agent or business manager for a pro athlete as an online sports management degree graduate. Popular careers in sports management include:
- Coaches – These are the professionals who provide guidance to developing athletes to hone their skills, maximize their performance, and allow them to succeed at their sport. Coaching usually requires a bachelor’s degree and always demands an extensive knowledge of the game.
- Scouts – Scouts are the sports management professionals that look for new players to join certain teams or programs. Coaches can sometimes serve dually as scouts, and both positions typically require at least a bachelor’s level education. The average income for coaches and scouts is a little more than $30,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Advertising & Marketing Managers – These sports managers focus their skills towards generating an interest in their team, events, products, or services. This specialized career field can be more demanding of professionals, but is also rewarding. The BLS quotes the average salary of advertising and marketing managers at over $125,000 a year. This sports management field requires a strong foundation of business and marketing knowledge, more so than coaching or scouting.
- Public Relations Managers – PR managers have a specialized focus on communication that makes them responsible for maintaining a positive public image for their team or enterprise. These professionals direct departments, programs, and materials that address the institution’s public message. According to the BLS, PR managers make almost $110,000 on average.
- General Managers – GMs, or Operations Managers, oversee the generalized operations of a department or establishment. They typically oversee, or work with, a team of specialized managers such as PR managers and Scouts to effectively coordinate the various aspects of a larger organization. The average GM makes just over $100,000 each year. If you’re interested in turning your passion for sports into a career, you may be in luck—across the board, careers in sports management are expected to grow by at least as fast as the national average (or better) in the coming years. It could be the perfect time to take a look into a future in sports management.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Sports management could be the path to a career in what you love to do, but it doesn’t come without hard work. Most careers in sports management involve nontraditional, demanding hours and extensive travelling when the games are in season. In addition to being passionate about the game, prospective professionals need to have the communication skills that allow them to work with different people at all different levels of the athletic profession. They need to be able to demonstrate leadership skills and resourcefulness, as well as the interpersonal skills to work effectively in team settings regardless of the role that they play.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
It goes without saying that any professional in sports management needs to have a thorough background of experience and understanding of their sport of choice. In addition to experience, any career in sports management usually requires a bachelor’s degree. Advanced degrees prepare graduates for higher-level management careers as sports administrators, head coaches, and general management. If you are looking at options for sports management education, you can trust that the highest quality programs will have received an accreditation from the Commission on Sports Management Accreditation (COSMA).
An online sports management degree instructs you in the business of sports. You'll learn how to successfully administer sports programs of all sizes and budgets. Finance, sports law, and governance are all covered. Delve into management topics like human resources, budgeting, and planning as they uniquely relate to athletics. Elective courses include public relations and marketing. You'll discover ways to market your sports program through creative endeavours and promotions. You may even be able to study management techniques for a particular sport, such as golf or basketball.
In addition to classroom education, many online sports management degrees require hours of hands-on experience through a practicum. Interning for your local minor or pro sports team will give you a taste of real-life work.
Expect to pay between $30,000 and $50,000, on average, for an online bachelor’s degree in sports management. A master’s degree price tag sits between $20,000 and $30,000. Click on a program below to see estimated tuition costs including all fees.