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What is Sports Management?
Sports management is the area of employment that is responsible for managing sports programs, teams, leagues and associations The business model of sports teams is often different than those of normal business, requiring individuals with specialized education and understanding to effectively manage such large businesses.
Sports Management Degree
Earning a college degree in sports management can lead to an exciting, rewarding vocation for the right type of individual. As a sports manager, you will be required to perform a number of duties such as: planning, organizing, conducting meetings, establishing strategic initiatives, enforcing rules, engaging with team members, negotiating with employees, leading an organization, and enacting regulations to benefit the organization and its members. Performing these types of duties will take a person who loves sports, enjoys competition, is focused, and task-oriented. If these describe your mentality and personality characteristics, a degree in sports management may be for you.
The degree options in sports management run the gambit from associate degrees through graduate-level programs. In addition to your degree level, you now have the ability to choose a sports management degree online, in a traditional classroom, or a hybrid program mixing classroom & online learning modalities. The learning modalities options will often mirror one another, so we will outline the online degree options in sports management below while the traditional classroom programs are listed in the school listings below.
Online Associate Degree in Sports Management
An online associate’s degree in sports management is a two-year program designed to provide students with the essentials to enter the business. Foundational classes for an associate degree in sports management will include courses such as principles of sports management and introduction to sports marketing along with general education courses. Liberal arts classes such as philosophy, English composition, and psychology are intended to provide students with tools to think differently about the world around them through integrative thinking.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management
The online bachelor degree in sports management is a four-year program geared to help students to manage a diverse number of managerial aspects of the business of sport, both regionally and globally. In addition to an array of general education courses, a student enrolled in an online Bachelor of Science in Sports Management program will typically take the following types of classes: principles of sport, sociology of sport, arena management, sports management, public relations, operations management, case research in sports management, project management, law, marketing, economics of sport, strategic management, and a sports internship.
Online Graduate Certificates in Sports Management
Graduate certificates in sports management are designed for working professionals looking to upskill or graduate students looking to add substance to an academic resume. Depending on the school and their certificate program, you may invest 12 weeks to one year in a graduate program. Examples of online graduate certificates that may be of interest to sports management professionals include: Sports Marketing, Sports Public Relations, Sports Law, Sports Risk Mitigation, Sports Industry Essentials, Sports Business, and Athletic Administration.
Online Master’s Degree in Sports Management
On-site or online master’s degree programs in sports management focus on growing your managerial, administrative, and leadership skills in a 1-3 year graduate degree program. The length of time it takes to complete an online MBA in sports management depends on the number of credits you take coupled with the school’s curricular requirements (including an internship or thesis). The most common path is through an MBA but students may also consider other valuable graduate programs listed below.
Online Master of Professional Studies in Sports Management (MPS): A Master of Professional Studies in Sports Administration is a comprehensive graduate degree program emphasizing a well-rounded, deep thinking sports professional. Students can move on to careers in education, public relations, financial management, coaching, advertising, or sales with an MPS degree.
Online Master of Business Administration (MBA): The most popular path to a sports management career with a graduate degree is the MBA program. A Master’s of Business Administration can be earned as a stand-alone degree or with an emphasis in marketing, leadership, or finance. Many accredited colleges and universities also offer MBA programs specifically for sports management professionals such as the MBA in Athletic Administration and MBA in Sports Management degrees.
Online Master of Science in Sports Management (MS): The MS in Sports Management is an interdisciplinary business degree that is geared to prepare graduate students to step into a variety of positions in all industries. Examples of industries applicable for sports management graduates include collegiate, professional, non-profit, recreational, high school, amateur, and juvenile.
Online Master of Science in Sports Medicine (MS): The Master of Science in Sports Medicine is an adjacent graduate degree to sports management teaching students about the human body as related to sport. MS students will learn about assessments, management, treatment, strengthening, and rehabilitation of athletes of all types. A graduate degree in sports medicine can help students educate sports teams, prepare athletes for competition, and be a link to the wellness of a team or organization.
Online Doctorate Degree in Sports Management
An online doctorate degree in sports management will typically be offered at a EdD or PhD program taking students 3-5 years of full-time matriculation to complete. The differences between the two most common sports management doctorate programs are listed below:
PhD in Sports Management: A PhD program for this degree track is known as a Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Management. Students studying for this type of terminal degree may elect to focus on sports management or add a concentration applicable to their preferred area of emphasis. Concentrations include such disciplines as sports marketing, leadership, medicine, sociology, finance, psychology, or collegiate athletics.
EdD in Sports Management: The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Sports Management emphasizes doctoral research and the application of theoretical knowledge to advance sports management and affiliated sectors. By combining deep research with data and real-world applications, students will experience the ever-evolving aspects of sports management under the tutelage of experienced professors.
Education and Schools
Education in sports management is usually offered through business schools or departments. Programs in this field are comparatively rare in comparison to normal management programs. Individuals studying in this field will typically pursue a specialized master's degree. that provides a specific education in various sports management models, including sources of income, operation costs, sponsorship, stadium operations and more.
A curriculum may include:
- Sport Finance
- Sports Marketing
- Professional Literature
- Sports Law
- Ethics in Professional Sports
As mentioned above, sports management is a specialized area of study, often offered through graduate programs to provide a more targeted education for individuals wishing to enter specific careers. Individuals seeking a sports management program should research the relative success of a given program based on the success of its graduates. Additionally, programs that have ties to local sports teams may also provide additional beneficial resources.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment in this field is typically sought through the front office of established sports teams in a given league or association. Tasks assigned to entry level front office employees may vary, though positions in management open on occasion based on the success and failure of a given team. Additional opportunities may be found in the management of sports associations themselves, or even in the representation of specific players for a portion of an athlete's income. Job growth will remain steady as position open due to personnel changes and retirements over the next decade. New jobs are rare, and typically open when new teams are formed in existing leagues, or a new sport is introduced requiring experts.
Career Paths with a Sports Management Degree
As a sports management graduate, you will have access to a number of different sectors within sport and job types. From public entities to private corporations to non-profit organizations of all sizes, you may have the opportunity to work with or work in a variety of fields of study after earning a degree in sports management. A cross-section of career paths within sports management include the following:
- Sports Agent
- Facility Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Athletic Trainer
- Physical Therapist
- Sports Medicine
- Athletic Administrators
- Sports Law
- Director of Communication
- Director of Athletics
- Program Director
- Operations Manager
- Program Coordinator
- Sports News Anchor
- Marketing Manager
- Clinical Instructor
- Sports Blogger/Publisher
- Market Research
- Advertising Director
- Brand Manager
- Sports Event Planner
- Parks & Recreation Manager
- Resort Manager / Club Manager
- Fitness Instructor
- Sales Manager
- Sports Mediator / Sports Arbitrator
How Do Salaries Compare in Sports Management?
Much like the diversity in job titles for a sports management degree holder, the variation in income will depend on your degree and industry in which you are employed. A brief list is presented below to be used as a starting point to consider which path makes the most sense for you and your career.
Career Median Annual Salary*
Sports Marketing Manager $131,180
Coaches & Scouts $31,460
Sports Medicine Physicians $206,920
Umpires and Officials $25,660
Operations Managers $99,310
Fitness Trainers $38,160
Sports Agent $64,200
*BLS & US Department of Labor 2017
List of Sports Management Professional Associations
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)
- Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW)
- International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)
- North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)
- Sport Marketing Association (SMA)
- National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA)
- College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)
- American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR)
- American Sportscasters Association (ASA)
- National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN)
- North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)
- Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM)
- Club Managers Association of America (CMAA)
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
- National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS)
- Resort and Commercial Recreation Association (RCRA)
- Sport and Recreation Law Association (SRLA)
- National Association of Campus Activities (NACA)
- Women in Sports and Events (WISE)
- North American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
- Women in Sports Careers Foundation (WISC)
- National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC)
- Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA)
- Sportsplex Operators and Developers Association (SODA)
- National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA)
- Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA)
- Black Women in Sports Foundation (BWSF)
- National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS)
- National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)
- American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD)
- National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)
- National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)
- Sports Lawyers Association (SLA)
- Stadium Managers Association (SMA)
- World Council for Venue Management (WCVC)