How to Start a Career in Sports Leadership and Management

Are you passionate about sports and have an aptitude for business? If your answer is yes, then a career in sports leadership and management might be the perfect fit for you. This field offers the unique opportunity to influence the future of the sports industry, from guiding professional teams to orchestrating major sporting events.  

Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of competition, the business behind sports, or fostering athletic talent, a career in sports management might be a fulfilling pathway for you. This article will guide you through the essential steps to kickstart your journey in sports leadership and management, covering everything from education to networking, and laying a foundation for a successful and rewarding career in the sports industry. 


Step 1: Understand the Landscape 

Sports leadership and management encompass a broad spectrum of roles within the sports industry, including team management, event planning, marketing, finance, and facility management. Your first step is to research various positions and sectors within sports management to identify where your interests and skills best align. Understanding the scope of opportunities will help you tailor your education and experience towards your desired career path. 

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Step 2: Pursue Relevant Education  

The right education will give you a leg up in the industry and provide you with the tactical skills and knowledge needed for a career in sports management. Consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sports management, business administration, marketing, or a related field. These programs often cover essential topics such as sports marketing, economics, facility management, and ethics in sports.  

For those looking to advance further, a master’s degree in sports management can provide deeper insights and specialized knowledge, making you more competitive in the job market. 

Take the time to research all the programs available on the market. Sports management might seem like a niche field, but there are many institutions that offer degrees in this specialty. Given the variety of programs out there, you’ll certainly be able to find one that suits your needs. If you want to prioritize gaining practical experience in the industry, consider searching for programs that emphasize internships or work placements within their curriculum. 

If you’ve already received a bachelor’s degree in a similar field but are looking to gain industry knowledge and tactical skills, consider taking a short course or masterclass in the subject. 


Advance your career in sports leadership with the Leading High-Performing Teams Masterclass at City Football Leadership Institute.


Step 3: Gain Practical Experience  

As in most industries, having real-world experience is crucial once you begin applying for jobs. A good starting point for developing your career in sports might be through internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time jobs within sports organizations, teams, or related businesses. It’s not only important to gain experience to bolster your resume but also to provide you with a clearer understanding of how sports organizations operate.  

These types of experiences are also great opportunities to network and build relationships with experts in the industry. Your colleagues will know your work ethic and passion for the industry most intimately and will likely be the best people to advocate for you once you begin searching for a full-time role.  


Step 4: Develop a Specialized Skill Set 

Sports management is a highly competitive career, and having a specialized skill set can provide you with an advantage. This might be something to consider once you’re further along in your career, but it never hurts to start planning while you’re in the early stages of your studies or internships.  

Whether it’s digital marketing, data analytics, sports psychology, or event planning, specializing in a niche area can make you more attractive to potential employers. Workshops, certifications, or online courses can serve as opportunities for continuous learning and skill specialization. 


Step 5: Network and Build Relationships 

As you develop your career, prioritize attending industry conferences, seminars, and events to connect with professionals in the field. Although your schedule is likely busy due to classes and internships, it’s highly encouraged to attend these types of events whenever possible. Who knows where you will make that one critical connection that leads you to your first job!   

You can also join sports management associations and online communities to stay informed about industry trends and job openings.  


Step 6: Demonstrate Passion and Persistence 

A genuine passion for sports and persistence in attaining your goals can be your greatest assets when you begin looking for your first job in the sports industry. Demonstrating your passion for sports through your work, continuous learning, and involvement in sports activities can significantly impact your career growth. Even the titans of the sports industry likely started with a simple love for sport and a desire to incorporate it into their day-to-day! 


Advance your career in sports leadership with the Leading High-Performing Teams Masterclass at City Football Leadership Institute.