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What can you do with a sports management degree?

University of the Pacific sports management majors.

If you’re passionate about the world of sports, you might consider a sports management major. Whether it’s the unpredictable thrill of the game or the feeling of camaraderie driven by a passionate fan base, it’s no wonder that many college students are drawn to this rapidly growing field. 

If this sounds like you, you might also be wondering what exactly you can do with a sports management degree, and if it’s the ideal degree for you. 

Studying sport management at Pacific’s Eberhard School of Business allows students to sharpen their business acumen while staying connected to the latest industry-specific trends, tools and technology. Students learn core business principles that provide them with a well-rounded background in marketing, law, analytics, finance, event management, communication and how these fields apply to the sports world. Remember, sports organizations are businesses. That means they need skilled workers who possess a love of the game and a keen business sense as well. 

The job outlook is also great. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in entertainment and sports occupations is projected to experience above-average growth, adding more than 100,000 new jobs each year through 2032.  
If you’re looking for an exciting major with myriad career opportunities, let’s explore why a bachelor’s degree in sports management might be the perfect choice for you. 

First, get clear on which sector you want to work in  

Finding a job in sports management doesn’t have to mean working for a major league professional team. Experts are also needed at the collegiate level and in community organizations, private companies, nonprofits and other related organizations. Each of these sectors has its own distinct advantages, like working deeply in one sport versus gaining broad experience across multiple sports, so spend some time figuring out which path aligns best with your career aspirations.   

And if you’re not exactly sure what you want you want to do in the industry, alumna Casey Manning ’19, senior ticker operations coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, suggests seizing any opportunity, even if it might not be what you want to do long term. 

“My biggest piece of advice for someone who is studying sports management is to take the opportunity when you can…Once your foot is in the door it will allow you to make the connections and get those promotions or title changes,” Manning said. “You may have to make sacrifices to get to where you want to be. But that’s OK! Learning the things you don’t like, and what your weaknesses are is another great way to find what you do like. Listen to your professors when they push you out of your comfort zone and take those opportunities when you get them. It will take you a long way.” 

Nine careers in sports management

  1. Sponsorships and Partnerships
    In the sports world, corporate sponsorships and partnerships are crucial for enhancing brand visibility and generating revenue through sales. From logos on jerseys to stadium signage to the brands carried in the concession stands, securing successful sponsorship deals hinges on professionals who are skilled in sales, negotiation and financial analysis. If you want Coca-Cola to be the team’s exclusive soft drink provider, for example, someone has to negotiate that partnership.

    See how alumna Nicole Barbour ’07 is dreaming up new ideas as vice president of partnership development for the Golden State Warriors
  2. Ticketing
    The role of ticket sales has evolved into a sophisticated enterprise and can involve everything from mapping out an arena for various seating arrangements to managing inventory and overseeing the entire process of selling to fans. Individuals in these roles may be responsible for selling group tickets, season tickets, suites and fan experience packages for events ranging from games and concerts to special occasions. Additionally, they are responsible for managing the ticket sales software and ensuring its seamless operation (no Taylor Swift–Ticketmaster debacle here!). Ticket sales is often a great entry point that can pave the way for higher-paying positions in the future. 
  3. Event and Facility Management
    Facility management professionals are responsible for coordinating all aspects of venue operations for games and special events, including leasing facilities, overseeing contractors for security, food services, maintenance and ensuring seamless coordination among departments. They are often the ones calling the shots behind the scenes and managing entertainment staff, mascots and dance teams; organizing halftime promotions; and ensuring athletes and fans have a seamless experience.  

    Alumnus Marvin Burgos ’22 shares his experience working for UCLA Athletics during March Madness 
  4. Development and Fundraising
    In the sports world, relationships are central to success. Development professionals secure philanthropic support for teams that helps offset the cost of travel, equipment, facility upgrades, uniforms and more. They oversee all aspects of fundraising from planning events, to inviting local elementary schools and youth leagues to games, forming partnerships with local businesses and securing donations, including scholarships for players. If you enjoy being around people and cultivating meaningful relationships, a career in fundraising could be especially rewarding for you. 
  5. Media Relations
    Sports teams and organizations employ media relations professionals to report on events and players, connect with audiences and bolster a team’s public image. A job in sports media may involve writing press releases and website content, managing photography and video content, social media and speaking on tv and radio broadcasts and at press conferences. This can be an exciting field for sports enthusiasts who understand the intricacies of the game. 
  6. Sports Law
    Sports lawyers serve as legal representatives for players and organizations across all tiers of the sports industry. They help negotiate contracts, salaries and endorsements; resolve disputes; handle trademark, copyright and licensing issues; and more. To become a sports lawyer a student must attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree after completing their undergraduate studies. Having a JD also provides a solid foundation for exploring other career opportunities within the legal field.

    Did you know? Legendary sports agent Scott Boras, widely recognized as one of the most powerful sports agents in the world, earned his law degree from Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.
  7. Personnel Management
    In professional sports, who you know is often as important as what you know. If you’re interested in building a winning team, a career in personnel management could be your calling. These individuals are responsible for picking the next crop of talented players and making trades behind the scenes. This is an ideal career path for former athletes who have a strong presence in the industry or those with deep knowledge of a specific sport. 
  8. Analytics
    The sports analytics industry is exploding as organizations rely more heavily on data to make informed decisions about player performance and overall success. According to Future Market Insights, the sport analytics market is projected to reach $31.4 billion by 2034. If the idea of analyzing a hitter’s swing plane or calculating the spin rate of a ball sounds like fun to you, working in analytics could be a great fit. Keep in mind that you’ll want to have a strong background in math or statistics to do well in this field. And analytics isn’t limited to athletic performance; it can also apply to marketing strategies used to predict fan behavior like which merchandise tends to sell out the quickest.
  9. Campus Recreation
    Working in campus recreation at a college or university offers a lot of perks including job stability, predictable hours and the comfort of operating in a less high-octane environment than professional sports. Campus recreation professionals help plan and implement programming at fitness centers, direct intramural sports and outdoor recreation, and contribute to a more vibrant university experience. This can be a rewarding career if you enjoy working with students in a college setting. 

Get out of the stands and into the game with a degree in sports management 

At Pacific, the sport management and analytics degree provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the sport industry and prepares them to thrive in any business environment. Through required internships and immersive learning opportunities, students build a professional network, bolster their resumes and gain a competitive edge when entering the job market.  

Kavita Dhillon ’16, director of game presentation for the Los Angeles Chargers, recommends joining professional networking groups to expand your connections.  

“A few networking groups I’ve participated in are WISE (Women in Sports and Events), SAIS (South Asians in Sport), Minorities in Sports Business and The National Sports Forum. All of these groups can be found on LinkedIn.” 
Additionally, Pacific’s 17 Division I athletics programs and sports facilities provide invaluable hands-on learning opportunities for aspiring sports professionals. 
“Take advantage of athletics on campus, shadow people that are working events, try different things to see what you like,” says Brady Cooper ’22, manager of ticket operations for the Portland Trail Blazers. “That is a perfect place to learn the ins and outs of a college athletics department.” 

Students also have the distinct advantage of earning a degree from the esteemed Eberhardt School of Business, consistently recognized as one of the top business schools in the western United States.  

Learn more about sports management at Pacific 

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