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Get a Sports Management Degree: Earn Big Bucks

There's a significant growth in sports management education programs to keep pace with the hiring needs of the booming sports industry.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   22-04-2016
Christian Brothers University offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in sports management. Picture credit: CBU

Maharashtra state tennis player Arvind Joshi didn't become a pro athlete, but that hasn't stopped him from being in the sports world.

"I knew I couldn't deal with a regular nine-to-five job. I love sports and today I am happy making a living out of it," says Joshi, who has a dual Master of Sports Administration and MBA degree from Ohio University.

Ohio University's two-year MBA/Master of Sports Administration (MSA) program uses a problem-based learning style in the MBA phase of the program with sport-specific lectures rounding out the MSA portion. Ohio University's Center for Sports Administration relies on its alumni network to connect students to internships and job opportunities within intercollegiate athletics, professional sports teams and leagues, sports media, management and marketing agencies.

"There simply has never been a better time to break into the business of sports whether we are talking about India or the United States. There are plenty of jobs for college students,” says Joshi, who is a senior account executive with sports and entertainment heavyweight IMG.

"It's a hyper growth industry," he added.

Indeed, the North America sports industry is expected to generate some $73.5 billion by 2019, according to "Forbes." The U.S. business magazine says the "biggest catalyst" behind the growth is the projected rise in revenue from sports media rights deals to around $20.9 billion by 2019.

Meanwhile, the Indian sports industry is also seeing growth in ticket sales, sponsorship, media rights and merchandising and is expected to clock 5 percent growth to generate $1.89 billion in 2015, according to global accounting firm PWC.

Sports management is now a legitimate academic subject, with many American universities offering degrees. The number of undergraduate sports management programs have exploded from three in 1980 to over 300 in 2010. From undergraduate to Master’s level courses to MBAs with a sports concentration, sports management is continuing to gain major traction in U.S. colleges and universities.

Most U.S. schools try to give their students plenty of exposure to future sports business employers.Students at the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management attend networking events and conferences, intern with sports businesses and meet industry leaders.

"There are many factors that make the Isenberg program unique, but for me, coming from India, the most important was the opportunity to network with alumni and the Graduate Mentorship Program," says Sohil Gala, who has a MS in Sport Management from the University Massachusetts Amherst Isenberg School of Management. 

"My mentor was tremendously helpful in guiding me along the path I was pursuing, as well as helping me best prepare for interviews," said Gala.

Some of the most consistently ranked sports management graduate programs today include Ohio University, the University of Central Florida, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Rutgers University. The University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center also allows students to receive a sports centric MBA.

Big business, big salaries

According to the 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a sports agent or business manager is $64,200. The handbook says that the top 25 percent of business managers for athletes earned more than $120,290.

A 2007 survey by Baylor University of executives from seventy-six teams across professional sports found that senior sales and marketing employees earn around $150,000 annually.

It's important to know right at the outset that sports management is not a nine-to-five job. Between travel and various starting times for games, the hours can be crazy. Sports marketing careers are fast-paced and require a high degree of travel, adaptability, creativity, analytical skills and good communication abilities.

Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site and writes for Forbes India. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.



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