What it takes to work in sports

I receive about three to five unsolicited letters per week from graduates, law school students and those already gainfully employed. Each letter usually states how much they love sports and it’s their dream to have a career working for a team, an agency, a sports network, or a sports marketer. The reality however, is that most likely less than 2% of those looking for a sports gig will actually land one. And secondly, many of those who do land a job will work long hard hours for peanuts.

So before you make a commitment to working in sports please do your homework first, make sure you are willing to sacrifice and be realistic about your chances of getting and staying in the door.

Here is what you should know:

War RoomWhat they don't show you on TV is the thousands of hours spent preparing for the Draft.

Finite amount of jobs: Just like the odds of a good high school athlete making it to the pros, the chances of landing a job in sports is a long shot at best. Even though the universe for sports positions is increasing each year, it doesn’t come close to the amount of students rolling out of undergrad, graduate programs and law school. More and more universities (and on-line entities) are offering some type of sports related degree or course.

Most sports organizations never even have to post openings because interns and/or friends or relatives usually quickly fill them. Bottom line is, please be realistic.

The pay: Because there are hundreds of thousands of people chasing down a small amount of jobs, the supply of willing workers keeps the pay low. People are so desperate to work in sports they will take less than what they are worth. When it comes to filling positions, it’s a buyers market for sports teams, agencies, marketers and other sexy sports centric companies.

The majority of pro sports teams also use unpaid interns, which dilutes the job pool even further. Sport entities have constant access to free labor. I know of people who have worked with NFL teams for over ten years but still need a roommate to share the rent because they couldn’t afford it on their own.

The hours: Many sports jobs require people to work on weekends, evenings and the entire day of an event such as a game. I get to go to a lot of college and pro games to see prospects and clients. Because I am working (which unfortunately means no tailgating), I can’t enjoy the game like most fans do and may have to wait an hour after the game just to say hello to a client for only 10 minutes.

When you see the TV production crew and talent and wish you could work on the sidelines, what you don’t see is that reporter was there four hours before the game, had to prepare the night before, and will have to hang around at least two hours after the game before flying back home.

To get, keep, and prosper in any sports job you will have to work long hard hours. I know it looks fun when they show the General Manager watching his team from a cozy suite but what you don’t see is how many hours of film work and meetings he has to go through.

The higher up the chain of command you are in a sports organization usually means you have to work even harder to keep your job. If you do make it to the top, you will sacrifice quality time with family and loved ones.


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