The $200 billion sports industry represents a wealth of opportunities for those with a degree in sports management. This degree offers preparation for a range of industries related to sports or physical activities, including: business, both nonprofit and not-for-profit; brand and digital marketing; sales; research analysis and analytics; professional, college, and amateur sports organizations; youth sports programs; sports equipment manufacturing and sales; event planning and sponsorship; sport facility management; journalism; and more. An undergraduate sports management degree also helps pave the way to a master’s or doctoral degree for upper-level or executive positions.
While a sports management degree can help you fulfill your dream of working in sports or sports-related industries, it’s important to understand the truth about 10 common misconceptions about the program of study.
MYTH 1: Sports management is not a real degree.
TRUTH: A degree in sports management is as real as any undergraduate degree. The Becker College sports management program is focused on providing you with a solid foundation in business, with an emphasis on the sports industry. The knowledge and skills you gain, along with what you put into your studies, determine the true value of your success.
MYTH 2: A sports management degree is equivalent to a coaching degree.
TRUTH: A sports management degree has little to do with the logistics and strategies of coaching; rather, it focuses on the business of sport. Those who are interested in a coaching career are advised to earn a degree in psychology, human development, or education.
MYTH 3: I have to play sports to major in sports management.
TRUTH: While a passion for sports or athletics is important, it is not necessary for a sports management major to be an athlete. The sports industry has a range of areas for those interested in the business of sports, including compliance, accounting, marketing, finance, sales, legal counsel, psychology, technology, human resources, facility design, and more.
MYTH 4: Sports management classes revolve around last night’s game.
TRUTH: Class interaction goes beyond play-by-play discussions. Expect to talk about ESPN—but about how it is organized, produces revenue, markets itself, structures its management team, hires research analysts, and how it is a leader in the globalization of sport. The essence of the Becker College sport management program sees beyond games, glitz, and glamour and focuses on the business aspect of the sports industry.
MYTH 5: A sports management degree will teach me everything I need to know.
TRUTH: A degree in sports management teaches the basics of the sports industry: marketing, law, leadership, governance, finance, ethics, facilities, and other functional areas in sports and sports organizations. At Becker College, we recognize that is not enough. Our program includes case studies and real-world project simulations which, combined with internships and networking, improves competitiveness in the job market. Internships are of great value; they provide you with experience in collaborating and working with others, handling multiple tasks, and further develop your industry knowledge and skills.
MYTH 6: Internships in sports management are glamorous.
TRUTH: While internships are available with professional teams, the competition is great and most fulfill a lower-end, monotonous role (e.g., fetching coffee, making copies, answering the phones, etc.). An internship at a smaller organization increases your involvement and engagement in daily operations: you might be put in charge of a project, asked to assist with the creation of a budget, investigate policy implications, or sit in on an executive meeting. What you learn at a less glamorous internship will serve you well in landing your first job in the industry.
MYTH 7: A sports management degree is the ticket to a career in pro sports.
TRUTH: One guest lecturer in class—the former general manager of a professional hockey team—was asked what it takes to work in pro sports. The GM responded that without a well-connected parent or family member, students are already 10 steps behind those who do. His best advice: Learn as much as you can, work hard, and produce results.
MYTH 8: Working in sports is a road to riches.
TRUTH: The sports industry is the same as any other business; salaries are based on the level of your position and what you bring to it. Once you get your foot in the door, you can advance within the organization by applying your knowledge and skills, getting to know people from other departments, building a solid reputation, and going above and beyond what is required.
MYTH 9: My career will be a normal day job.
TRUTH: Those who want to work in the sports industry—from athletics to running their own businesses—need to be prepared for long hours. Sports is not a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 job; it is often seven days a week and working during holidays.
MYTH 10: Who I know will get me to the big leagues.
TRUTH: Even if you’re friends with a professional athlete or have an in at a prestigious professional organization, how long you remain employed depends on how well you prove your value. If you don’t have the skills and knowledge to be an effective and productive employee, you will not last long in the position.