The world of sports is a big business. Teams and associations generate billions of dollars from fans and corporate sponsorships, enough to reward their players with multi-million dollar contracts.
Corporations plan advertising and promotional campaigns built on the endorsements of sports celebrities. Players nurture their careers to maximize proﬁt from team contracts and endorsement deals. Students who are considering a career in sports have a wealth of opportunities, from marketing and media to nutritional management.
Check out the latest Firsthand guide on this industry here.
Sample Employers in LionSHARE
- Major League Soccer
- Rock Nation
- Major League Baseball, Office of the Commissioner
- CUNY Athletic Conference
Focus areas in Sports
Here is a sample list of applied areas in this industry:
Coaches, nutritionists and ﬁtness trainers all help athletes reﬁne their performance and amplify their skill set. Coaches develop in-game strategies and work with players to set and reach goals, while managing team dynamics to ensure in-game success. Coaches often have prior experience as an athlete involved in their particular sport, and often apply this knowledge to develop their coaching strategies.
Nutritionists and trainers ensure that athlete’s bodies are in peak physical condition in order to optimize performance. Nutritionists develop meal plans for optimal performance for their clients. Athletic trainers create exercise plans to increase and maintain their clients’ levels of ﬁtness, and provide rehabilitation services in the event of injury. Due to the individualistic, client-centered nature of these careers, both nutritionists and athletic trainers must complete professional certiﬁcation.
Sports agents represent professional athletes, negotiate contracts and endorsements, and otherwise manage an athlete’s career. Successful sports agents, however, tend to thrive in this high-energy environment. Because of the competitive nature of the ﬁeld, internships are also an often crucial stepping stone to full-time employment.
SPORTS MARKETING AND SALES/EVENT MANAGEMENT
Sports marketers handle the business side of sports. They can work for either a league, team, conference or sports association. They can also work on behalf of major companies, like Coca Cola or Budweiser, managing promotional campaigns and sponsorships of sporting events. Duties in this ﬁeld include market research and analysis, planning events for clients in order to generate sponsorships, developing merchandise for employers and generating ticket sales for events. Bachelor’s degrees constitute entry-level education.
Due to the limited availability of sports marketing programs at universities, many in the industry gained internship experience in the ﬁeld prior to full-time employment. The ﬁeld has no “prerequisites,” in the sense that sports marketers need not have focused on their ﬁeld while in school, but the diﬃculty of entering the industry makes such internships and connections crucial.
Sports media provides coverage of sports events and athletes worldwide. Companies such as ESPN, CBS Sports, and the Sports Business Journal hire sports-oriented journalists of various capacities, including sports editors and writers, photographers, web developers and advertisers.
As with careers in other divisions of media, it’s important to start searching for opportunities within the industry as soon as possible. Connections and internships are often crucial to securing full-time employment. Networks such as ESPN oﬀer structured summer internships that could help aspiring sports journalists start their careers.
Columbia University Resources
- LionSHARE: Examples of organizations in the sports industry that have posted opportunities in LionSHARE include Wasserman Media Group, National Football League, New York Yankees, National Basketball Association, and EW Group.
- Columbia Sports Business Club is a student organization which seeks to educate and connect students interested in careers in the sports industry.
- Hear straight from professionals working in the sports industry across a variety of roles. Read our recap of our Industry Showcase: Sports Business event.
Job and Internship Search Resources