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Sports and staying fit in America are more popular than ever. That is why many business students and professionals are opting for a master’s degree in sports management. They want to combine their passion with sports with their career goals.
Whether you are interested in a career as an athletic administrator, team manager, physical education teacher, or coach, getting a master’s in sports management can open the door to an exciting and rewarding athletic career.
Depending upon your interests, you could enjoy a career in sports management in many areas:
- Business development
- Social media
- Public relations
This is becoming more possible today; the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the entire field of entertainment and sports occupations will grow by 6% by 2023. It is thought that more demand from the public for sports will contribute to faster growth for many sports management and sports administration roles.
What Is Sports Management?
Sports management or administration is understanding and practicing the business side of sports. Sports management concerns the organization and operation of sports organizations, with a strong focus on generating revenue from competition and sporting events. This can be at the high school, collegiate or professional levels.
A master’s in this field will help you to learn advanced skills in handling public relations, negotiating athletic scholarships and formulating business strategies by targeting issues and topics that are critical to run a sports-related business.
Earning this master’s degree will provide you with the skills and experience to qualify for many different sports-related careers:
- Sports agent: Many people who earn a master’s in sports management aspire to be a sports agent for a professional organization or professional sports players.
- Sports marketer: Create awareness and advertisements marketing efforts for sports related organizations. You will work heavily in public relations, TV, public events, endorsements and social networking.
- Coaches and scouts: Coaches and scouts work in amateur and professional athletics to teach athletes the skills needed to do well in their sport. Scouts also look for good new players, and they evaluate their skills and how likely they are to succeed in collegiate and professional sports.
- Fitness trainers and instructors: These professionals lead, instruct and motivate people in various types of exercise activities. Many with their masters in sports management may eventually work as the head of some type of sports facility, such as a gym.
- Administrative service managers: They plan, direct and coordinate various supportive services for organizations, including many athletic and sports-related organizations.
Why Earn a Master’s in Sports Management?
Did you know that the annual revenue from the sports industry in the United States is more than $500 billion? To get an idea how much that is, consider the annual revenues for other industries in America:
- Restaurants: $400 billion
- Real estate: $300 billion
- Autos: $220 billion
- Education: $50 billion
This indicates just how popular and growing sports are in the US. That popularity is driving several types of sports management careers in particular:
- Sales: When looking around for sports management jobs, you will notice that many of them are somehow related to sales. Sales are what will make or break many sports organizations, at whatever level they are. Many professionals with their master’s in sports management may start out at least in sales, and their compensation is tied to their production.
- Analytics and data analysis: Most organizations in sports at all levels are driving more towards a business model based upon hard data. They must use analytics and advanced statistics to make decisions.
These types of careers in particular are offering more opportunities in the sports management field. And of course, working in sports management allows you to focus your life’s work on what you love – sports and athletic competition.
The competition for sports and athletic related positions is fierce, and you will have to have a very strong application to be considered at many universities. For example, Columbia University has the following requirements to be considered for their program:
- Two letters of recommendation
- Transcripts from all colleges
- Updated resume with sports related business experience
- Official scores from the GRE or GMAT
- Statement of purpose
- Supplemental essay
- Interview may be required
- GPA of at least 3.0
Curriculum and Courses
At Columbia University is offered a Master of Science in Sports Management. It is available on either a full time or a part time basis. This program takes up to three years to complete, and it has been carefully aligned with the modern needs of the sports industry. It offers three concentrations:
- Digital sports media and marketing
- Sports analytics
- Global sports
These three concentrations that you can select will be complemented by a strong core set of classes that will help you to stay competitive in this tough field.
Required classes include:
- Foundations of American Sport
- Leadership and Personnel Management in the Sports Industry
- Sports Accounting and Finance
- Sports Law and Ethics
- International Comparative Sports Law
For those who choose the sports marketing speciality, these courses are required:
- Intro to Sports Media and Marketing
- Sports Marketing, Sponsorship, and Sales
- Sports Business Communications and Public Relations
- Digital Sports Media and Marketing
- Sports Revenues Strategies & Analytics
- Seminar in Sports Marketing
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
A sports management master’s will offer you a broad array of potential careers and titles:
- Event planner
- Facilities manager
- Athletic administrator or director
- General manager
- Strength and conditioning coach
- Account executive
- Athletic trainer
- Marketing director
- Personal trainer
- Gym manager
Job and Salary Outlook
Fitness trainer —
It is expected that the demand for fitness trainers will be at least 8% by 2024. Experts believe that government, business and insurance companies will keep recognizing the benefits of health and fitness for all employees. This will continue to drive demand for these types of workers at gyms and health clubs. The median pay in the field is $36,100, but the top 10% earn more than $70,000 per year.
Coaches and Scouts —
The demand for coaches and scouts will increase by 6% by 2024, which about average when compared to other occupations. In particular, experts say that increasing participation at the high school and college levels will continue to drive demand in this field. The median pay in this field is $31,000 per year, with the top 10% earning $70,000 per year.
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers —
Many professionals in the sports management industry work in sales, advertising and promotions. This field will see a 5% increase in demand in jobs by 2024, which is about average. Median pay in this field was $95,000 in 2015, although the pay is often based somewhat or largely on performance.
Scholarships and Grants
- Cruyff Institute: This organization provides an annual scholarship to a US or international student who wants to earn their degree in sports management.
- United States Sports Academy: This leading athletic organization in the US offers several scholarships each year to worthy students who want to earn a degree in a sports-related field.
- North American Society for Sport Management: This organization is strongly committed to promoting the field of sport management in its theoretical and applied aspects.
- Sports Management Review: This international journal is dedicated to the management, marketing and governance of sports all over the globe.