Just because you may not be the next David Beckham or Lebron James doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate a successful career in the sports world. There are, in fact, many sports-related fields that don’t require you to be an ace on the court or in the field but, rather, that require skilled and well-educated individuals. Indeed, your healthy love of sports either as an athlete or a superfan can translate into a lucrative and exciting career. Let’s explore some career options and fields of study for the sports-minded.
Sports Management: A degree in the business of athletics can open the door to numerous career paths. Sports management professionals work as team managers, athletic directors, sports agents and recruiters, marketing and PR professionals, and more. Take the sports agent, for instance: Scott Boras, notorious agent who is both feared and respected by general managers, has accumulated over two billion dollars in contracts during his career. Needless to say, there is a well-paying career to be had in this area. Marketing professionals might work directly in an arena or stadium, collaborating on promotional and other business ideas, and team managers work in the clubhouse, taking charge of important but unseen elements of the game like uniforms and team travel. The great news is that there is no shortage of college undergraduate programs in this area. In fact, between 1980-2010, the number of undergraduate sports management programs grew from just three in the U.S. to over 300, so there is undoubtedly a program out there for you.
Physical Therapist: The field of PT can stretch well beyond the sports world. Physical therapists work with a broad spectrum of patients, from athletes to the elderly to those recovering from injury. From an athletics perspective, all college, amateur, and pro teams employ experts in PT, and many excellent colleges offer majors and advanced degrees in the field. So what’s the payoff for enduring the numerous science courses you’ll need for a degree in PT? How about the fact that the field is expected to grow by a whopping 34% in the next decade. Not only can this field allow you to work in the sports world, but it also stretches into private practice, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. A unique understanding of the body and its recovery processes can set you up for a truly satisfying career.
Journalism: Sports boasts a long and rich history of writing. Famous literary writers like Ernest Hemingway and John Updike as well as political writers like George Will have delved into sports literature. Famed author Hunter S. Thompson wrote for the Rolling Stone sports desk as well as for ESPN Magazine. Journalism and sports, indeed, go together like a ball and a glove. The field continues to grow, with opportunities on many different platforms, including magazines, multimedia outlets, and television channels. While breaking into this field takes hard work and determination, a good starting point is one of the many great journalism programs offered at U.S. colleges and universities. Arizona State University, for instance, offers sports journalism degrees in its Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In the recent past, other schools including Penn State and the University of Maryland have started sports journalism programs, so it looks like this field is only going to grow.
Sports Medicine: From sports psychologist to nutritionist to athletic trainer, the field of sports medicine offers numerous paths and specialties. As with other sports fields, this one seems primed for growth: the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts a growth rate of over 20% over the next decade. As science and medicine continue to evolve, trained, cutting-edge professionals are needed to assess injuries and understand how to treat them. In athletics, kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of body movement, can go a long way toward helping athletes stay ready and healthy, and most sports medicine programs require an understanding of the subject, while many colleges offer a major in kinesiology. Sports medicine can open many doors, and an unbelievable expected growth rate of 41% in the field over the next ten years makes it that much more desirable.
You don’t need to be the next great athlete in order to succeed in the world of sports. Consider the many different career paths that the field of athletics offers. With incredible growth rates and opportunities to work in many different areas, the study of sports can set you up for a truly exciting career.
Written by Phil Lane
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