Sports & Sales
On Tuesday, November 1st, the Trine Center for Sports Studies, in conjunction with the Trine Sport Management Club, held its annual fall symposium. Last fall, the CSS had an expert panel speak about building your NIL brand, and this year’s panel discussed the revenue-side of sports at the Sports & Sales symposium. Although the coronavirus pandemic delivered a massive blow to the worldwide sports industry, it has bounced back and is expected to grow from $388.3 billion to almost $600 billion by 2025 (Research and Markets, 2021). This growth is going to lead to an increase in revenue-producing jobs. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment in entertainment and sports occupations is projected to grow thirteen percent from 2021 to 2031 (BLS, 2022). This is great news for students looking to break into the sports industry.
As a professor in Sport Management, I am constantly asked “how can I land a job in sports”. The answer is simple, learn how to bring in revenue to a team or organization. If you can sell, you can land a job in sports! WorkInSports.com is a leading job board in the sports industry and an analysis of their jobs posted on the website, 3,155 of them, revealed that fifty-two percent required some form of sales (Clapp, 2016). This does not mean that you must sell in order to work in sports, however, the majority of jobs in sports are on the business-side, not the player-side of sports. Think of it this way – there are only thirty-two General Manager positions in the NFL, for example, but every team employs a ticket and sponsorship sales staff in the dozens. This should be a sign that you need to look at where you can get in as you’re competing with students from approximately 400 college sport management programs across the nation.
To help our students understand what opportunities are available in sports sales, and the tools you need to be successful, we invited Zander Atwood and Brent Harring for a panel session with our students. Zander is the Athletics Ticket Sales and Annual Fund Director for Purdue Fort Wayne Athletics and Brent is the Director of Groups Sales for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. For over an hour, Zander and Brent shared their experiences in sports sales from starting out as interns in college to their respective positions in college and professional sports. I encourage you to listen to their talk on the CSS Podcast, but they provided two important pieces of advice for students looking to break into sports – 1) get experience and 2) network.
Many entry-level jobs in sports require two to three years of experience and this can be problematic for the recent college graduate who has spent the last four years in school. The good news, as Zander explained, is that internships and volunteering count. Students should not limit themselves to only one internship either, work in a number of different roles to find your fit in sports.
Secondly, Brent shared the value of networking and how it has helped him in his career. His supervisor when he was an intern with the Memphis Redbirds in college helped him to land his current job with the TinCaps. Also, being part of the Fort Wayne community and volunteering as a board member for Fort4Fitness and graduating from Leadership Fort Wayne has helped him to build relationships with potential customers in Fort Wayne. He encouraged students to join the Sport Management Club and take advantage of the networking and career fair trips it offers.
To listen to the fall Center for Sports Studies symposium, download the CSS Podcast on November 10th.
BLS. (2022, September 8). Entertainment and sports occupations: Occupational outlook handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/home.htm
Clapp, B. (2016, March 23). 53% of jobs in the sports industry require this skill. WorkInSports. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.workinsports.com/resourcecenter/jobseeker/pages/53-of-jobs-in-the-sports-industry-require-this-skill
Research and Markets. (2021, July 22). Global sports market opportunities and strategies report 2021: Sports market forecast to reach $599.9 billion by 2025 as COVID-19 lockdowns ease.
Brandon Podgorski is an Associate Professor of Sport Management at Trine University and the Director of the Trine Center for Sports Studies.