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Experience in Sports Management Pays

Sports are no longer just a sport, they are big business worldwide.  This is a very fast growing field, but it is also a highly competitive field.  Sports management programs have exploded in number. In the 1970’s there were just a few programs, and now about 300 universities offer sports management degrees.  When Ohio University and UMass were basically the only schools offering these degrees they had a lot more distinction on a resume. With the proliferation of sports management programs during the 1980s and 1990s it has become less of a positive entry on a resume. Some job openings for an entry-level position may receive over 1,000 applications for one position.  So, while getting a good education is always important, experience and networking are just as important in this field.

Prior to the increase of schools offering this program, many students majored in business, law or communications and used those degrees to get into the sports industry.  Many times this is still a good option as these skills are transferable into other fields and industries. 

Many schools have some wonderful internships as part of their program.  Look for schools that have strong networks within the area of management you are interested in.  Faculty members many times have real life work experience in certain college or professional sports leagues and maintain strong ties within those clubs or schools.  If you are interested in getting into a major league football club, look at schools that have strong football programs and volunteer within that program.  Student managers at strong athletic schools even in high school can use that as part of their resume.  Volunteer and become active in community programs as well.  Being a volunteer coach at your local YMCA shows a strong interest and initiative in the field.  Many times people are more interested in what you have done within the field, than your degree.  It shows a history of your ability to apply yourself to this industry and if you have recommendations from people in the areas you have volunteered it is a huge benefit for your resume.  If a person is reviewing your application for a job in the industry and you have a letter of recommendation from, say a program director at the YMCA, it will indicate your ability to work well in similar situations for the position you are being considered.   In the same tone, if you have student equipment manager for your high school or college team it will stand out on your resume as well.  Be active and network with people you meet in the industry. 

Schools with good internships and connections can make a big difference; these are opportunities to make contacts and get your foot in the door. Some schools have strong connections with industry giants like Nike and ESPN.  ESPN in Bristol is in close proximity to the University of Connecticut and they offer great internships.  Schools with strong athletic programs, especially division one school, will have more opportunities to work with people in the industry.

Many times a good education and degree can only go so far.  In this 200 billion-dollar a year industry you have to sell yourself and your ability, so gaining as much experience as possible is just as important as completing your sports management degree.

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