Many young men and women grow up fantasizing of a career as a professional athlete. Fame, fortune and the overall thrill of getting paid to play a game for a living drives these dreams. But with odds of high school athletes rising to the pro ranks ranging from just 1 in 598 for men’s ice hockey to 1 in 13,015 for women’s basketball, one’s chances of becoming a star athlete aren’t great. That doesn’t mean, however, an individual still can’t earn a career in professional sports. Instead, moving from the weight room to the classroom may prove a more successful path to the pros. Here are four big-league careers students can score by pursuing business, finance and management studies.
As a general manager you might not be on the field, but you’ll be paid like you are. Multi-million-dollar salaries are common in the major professional leagues. There are more job openings in the lower ranks, but even the national average for this position is nearly $70,000. It’s also a position of power and influence. General managers are responsible for drafting, signing and trading players, hiring and firing coaches and leading the organization in community and business dealings.
Country Club Manager
People visit country clubs to experience a taste of luxury. As club manager, you’ll be living it 24/7. Building membership rolls and overseeing budgets are important parts of the job, but you’ll also have a hand in the club’s athletics programs. Managers hire staff and supervise the activities at swimming pools and tennis courts while also directing all aspects of golf course management.
Getting a cut of players’ lucrative contracts encourages many people to become sports agents, but there’s a lot of studying required to make it big. Agents must possess a firm understanding of finance, marketing and sports management, and holding a legal degree is a big plus. This background comes in handy when negotiating salaries, building a brand for your client and securing endorsement deals.
Public Relations Manager
The public’s hunger for sports information is ever-growing, and a public relations manager’s job is to feed it. Strong communication skills are key to the position, which involves a hefty amount of writing speeches, media reports and press releases and developing promotional marketing campaigns to drive ticket and merchandise sales. You’ll also work with reporters and media executives to arrange press coverage, interviews and athlete profiles.
If you want to make it to the big leagues, put down the playbook and open up a textbook. Academic success is the best path to a career in professional sports.