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Helping Others in Sports

While we think of sports as a huge money making machine, it is also a force for good with the large number of charities it supports. Professional sports leagues need to have a large fan base to support them and in return they give back to their community in which they live and work in. Getting a job in sports management can get you very involved with this fan base.

Sports management programs prepare graduates to work in a variety positions within the sports world.  One of those positions is a community relations director.  Community relations is an extension of, or part of the public relations department in most sports programs. In the past the public relations department covered media relations, community relations and public relations. These days though, public relations are more specifically defined as all non-media-related communications efforts focused on reaching the fan base.  While activities done by the public relations department does generate some media exposure its main purpose is to portray a positive impact on the community.  These activities are not done solely for the purpose of gaining publicity.

The community relations department’s objective is to develop significant programs to benefit charitable causes as well as outreach and educational programs in the local business area.  Programs may include creating a nonprofit foundation to raise funds and distribute financial contributions to worthwhile causes within the community. These programs allow sports organizations and their athletes a chance to give back to the community that supports them.  The positive public relations and media coverage for both the player and their team is invaluable.

Another way the public relations department gives to the community is by contributions of licensed merchandise, autographed memorabilia and game tickets to help a worthy cause raise funds through auctions, special events and raffles. This type of in-kind contribution tends to be the most popular method of supporting groups within the community.  Auctions or raffles of these items help charities to raise significant funds for their cause.  This type of support does not generate any substantial publicity, nor was it meant to; instead it is meant to create a positive reputation for the organization with its fans and the community leaders.  This relationship allows leagues to reach out to the general public and try to increase their recognition among people who may not be fans of the team.  Community relations programs want to generate interest and inspire more people to become fans of the team.

These types of programs are crucial for minor league sports organizations because they are inexpensive ways to successfully market itself.  Minor league teams tend to have tight budgets and rely mainly on revenue generated from attendance of their games to be profitable.  Ticket sales, food concessions, merchandise sales and parking are their main income source.  This can be a true win-win situations for both the team and for the community groups they help.

Teams at the major league level are also very involved in their communities and have many programs designed to help their community.  Below is a link for the Sports Philanthropy Project website, it includes a list of all the major sports teams and their foundation and charity links.

Individuals working in this department need to have excellent verbal and written communications skills, the ability to handle pressure, and the ability to take initiative in situations with the public.  They must be familiar with the internet’s social medias as this is becoming more of a factor in public relations.  So, if you want to choose sports management as a major and to have a job that helps worthy causes, a position in the community or public relations department might be a good career choice for you.

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