Video: Why Mark Cuban is Wrong About a Sports Management Degree

When Mark Cuban speaks, people listen. Recently the Dallas Mavericks owner and co-host of Shark Tank, spoke negatively about getting a sports management degree.

We listened, we thought about it, and we disagree with the majority of his premise. Watch this short video to see how we arrived at our conclusion:





sports management jobs

Video Transcript: “Why Mark Cuban is Wrong About a Sports Management Degree”

Brian Clapp, WorkinSports.com Director of Content: Mark Cuban has become one of the biggest names in sports, and I have to admit I’m a bit of a fan. I love people that are unabashed, that are unafraid to throw out their opinion, that challenge convention and make me think about my own perception of things – Mark Cuban does that. I often read his blog, which is aptly titled BlogMaverick.

Cuban wrote and article recently about how he thought a sports management degree was a complete waste of time, and I’ll link to the article here (editors note: the part on a sports management degree is near the bottom) and you can read it for yourself.

His basic premise was that there are a limited amount of actual professional teams, and a limited amount of jobs that they have and if you do the math there are more people graduating with a sports management degree than there are jobs available at teams.

mark cuban on sports management degree

Mark Cuban always has a passionate argument, but that doesn’t mean he’s always right

He says, you should focus on getting experience in sales, a revenue generating job that will always have opportunities and an ability to get hired.

I think he has some flaws in his premise and he also makes some strong points. The first major flaw is that he is isolating the sports industry to just revolving around teams, but the sports industry is so much more than that, and a sports management degree can teach you so much more about the intricacies of the sports industry.

Think about broadcast media rights, agency relationships all the sort of things that are specific to sports. There are so many different avenues of the sports job marketplace – whether it is merchandising, publicity, agency, there is much more than just working for  a team and much more that a sports management degree can prepare you for.

So there are more opportunities out there than Mr. Cuban is actually leading you to believe.

BUT, his underlying point about getting experience in sales makes a lot of sense. Revenue generating jobs are easier to come by, if your role can show that it makes money it is much easier for a business to say “we need that role”. If you talk to most executives across any facet of the sports industry, they will tell you the majority of their workforce is in sales. It’s just a fact.

So if you learn sales, you will have a much better chance at getting hired. But if you pursue a sports management degree, you are going to learn so many things specific to the sports industry, which is where you passion clearly lies that it is always going to line up with your values and who you want to be.

Sports Management is not a misguided major, despite what Mark Cuban says.

 

email
About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

Comments

  1. Brian – good points regarding Cuban’s thoughts. Yes – there are many more jobs in the sports industry that reach outside of team jobs. Many times these jobs may be a perfect match for people with skills they have gained through a sports management degree. Having worked for several teams and also organization that support teams, broadening your target job to companies that directly service the team side can open many more opportunities.

  2. I think Cuban is right. Your video is a good example. Learning something other than sports management might have even assisted you in structuring your argument against Mr. Cuban idea, not premise.

    • Blah – thanks for commenting, no seriously – thanks. For the record I didn’t major in sports management, that would have made me quite biased and unable to speak with integrity on the subject. I think my argument was quite clear – Cuban claims there are 120 pro sports teams…there are actually 465. Even still, there are more jobs in the sports industry than just with pro teams so his argument is not well researched. I did give him credit for pushing people towards sales careers, revenue generating positions will always present employment opportunities. If you’d like to explain why you think my argument didn’t fit your standards, I’d love to hear. And trust me, I’m OK with an a dissenting opinion, so please explain yours. – Brian

  3. 2sense says:

    I totally agree with cuban. Being someone who has a degree in sports management and friends who do as well. I can speak from experience when I tell people NOT to major in sports management. SM is still in the development stages and i consider it a “fad major” in my eyes. A lot of SM curriculum’s have a bunch of filler courses and they don’t teach any real skills. I can’t tell you how many online applications i have done and have to put “other” because sports management isn’t recognized as a major. The job boards and websites for SM people, want you to pay to use them (scams) or are very concentrated (teamwork, ncaa) so that means you are in a big pool of candidates. What i recommend to ppl who want to work in sports? go to a big sports school and work/volunteer for the field you want to be in. The connects you can make at these schools pay for themselves, 2nd – Try to pursue a business major or a “money major” and have SM be your minor. 3rd – Take electives courses in accounting, video editing, computer classes to learn various programs, marketing, etc. These are skill classes that very few if any SM curriculum’s make mandatory, which is mind boggling to me. If you can’t/won’t do that, work a job/volunteer where you can pick up these skills! Think about it, if you apply for sports jobs with only a SM degree and none of those skills and someone with a philsophy degree (random) who has any of those skills applies, who do you think will get it? Those skills are extremely valuable in sports. The most important thing to do is network. When i say network i mean work/volunteer with someone in the field you want, who can help. Cold call networking is a hassle and no true bond/relationship will come of it.

    • 2 sense you are preaching to the choir – I have written at least 10-15 articles begging people to learn marketable skills, to volunteer, to intern, to network. Matter of fact in the video I agree with Cuban on his pitch for people to learn sales. As for SM, it totally depends on the program you go to and the curriculum you are exposed to – so I believe the burden is on the student to research, evaluate and decide correctly. There are bad SM programs out there that don’t prepare their students well for the changing market, just like there are bad business programs out there (I know plenty of MBAs at big schools who can’t find work). There are also bad students who don’t get involved, volunteer, intern or take advantage of the resources around them and then try to scapegoat it on others. Bottom line, I know hundreds of SM students and graduates who have become very successful, it can and does happen – to say it is a waste is short-sighted to me. And hey, that’s a low blow calling us a scam! We’ve helped 2 million sports job seekers in our 15 years of existence and have pages and pages of positive testimonials. For real. Thanks for your comment, I always value a dissenting opinion! – Brian

  4. Hi, Folks-

    Mark Cuban is correct. Brian Clapp is correct. However, let me explain. My background and experience has allowed me to not only watch and participate in the integration of technology in sports. Oh, Yes! I remember that giant rolodex filled with individual cards containing critical information regarding our season ticket holders. The team (NBA) could barely sniff 20 wins. I also had the very first automated “sales” staff in “sports.” Refernce: Dr. Bill Sutton. Dr. Sutton is the head of the Sports School of Business at the University of South Florida. He received his Ph.D. from Dr. Dr. John Rooney (retired) of Oklahoma State university and a well known sports author. Bill went to Ohio State and started the sports program. Funny Ohio State takes the credit for being the first – a credit and accolade that only belongs to Dr. John Rooney.
    I also had the first Ticketmaster scanning system in the NBA in Reunion Arena. Reference: Ticketmaster.com timeline. I also had the very first fan interactive “Email Newsletter” to season ticket holders and fans at the Dallas Mavericks. We took the concept to the NBA and they adopted it League wide and integrated it into NBA.com.

    All throughout my career the one thing that stands out is Mark Cuban’s remarks regarding the fan experience. He is absolutely correct! Wins and fan experience are what people are looking for while at the game. They get stats on ancillary boards if the want to look to the left or to the right and on the center boards as well – with exciting video action which keeps them in the game. Case in point. The theory many years ago was to not televise home NBA games for fear that fans would stay home and not come to the arena. This theory was proven false simply by the fact that attendance levels did not drop when home games were televised. Attendance figures grew especially if the team was winning and fans had a great experience. I remember riding on a bus to Epcot with Celtics Coach Casey Jones and and his wife, who stated to me sarcastically, “We can’t wait to see what kind of circus you guys have in store for us when we get to Indianapolis.” I replied, “”Well you have Larry Bird, Kevin McHale. Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson and we are hoping to win more than twenty games this season.” Oh and by the way, I never paid attention to the organ player in the old Boston Gardens – being there and enjoying the experience was all I needed. Mark Cuban is right. Learn how to sell.
    Brian Clapp is correct that there are many ancillary studies that one learns in a sports management program. That is true. But, that number of job opportunities diminishes – I believe mark Cuban has about five or six people that work on those items and one is for Hispanic Community Outreach – important in Texas.

    Truth be told. When young people ask me what they should study to get a job in sports they do not like my answer. I tell them to get your undergraduate degree in business. Go to graduate school and get your MBA. Then, go to Law School and get your J.D. Then you will be in a position to put yourself in the same room with successful sports franchises like Mark Cuban and do the deals like Naming Rights, (I am the valuator of the American Airlines Center Naming Rights agreement which almost went to Nokia for far less than half of what I recommended and achieved with The American Airlines agreement) broadcast rights, real estate, et al, etc.. I almost lost my job because I took a stand against the Nokia agreement. So I remember it well. Nevertheless, if you can afford the time and treasure to acquire those degrees and a few years of experience you will always be in demand.

    Sell tickets. That will help you sell sponsorship. Create a great fan experience. Win games. That will fill your arena and fulfill your life’s ambitions. That is the reality of the business.

    Mar Cuban v. Brian Clapp – tied going into overtime. Next blog/video coming to you after a word from these sponsors.

    Mark Andrew Zwartynski
    NBA Business Executive Veteran/.Author/Publisher

    • Great stuff Mark! Thanks for contributing your seasoned persepctive. There is no denying the importance of sales as it relates to the sports industry, that why I make sure to give credit to Cuban for that side of his argument. As is the case in most things in life, there is no 100% correct black and white answer, instead there are many shades of gray. BUT, when you are Mark Cuban (or even to a lesser degree, Brian Clapp) you have to create perspectives in in absolutes – no one reads or engages with gray. – Thanks again Mark – great stuff!

      • Brian-
        I want to commend you on your initiative to help young people in the quest of their dreams. The one thing that I have learned is that most of the time people are in self-preservation mode from the time a young person enters school with teachers all through the highest level of education into the reality of business deal making in the world.

        If we proceed to do our best in telling young people the truth without personal agenda then we will be educating them in the best possible manner.

        Let them know that managers will be screaming at them to make phone call quotas and ticket sales quotas before they will be able to ascend to the real deal-making. Unfortunately, that is not happening for selfish reasons. There are some owners that I will not mention who understand how to raise the young people up. But they are few and far between.

        Thank you.

        maz

        • Mark – always great to hear from you, I appreciate your insight and try very hard to pass down some of the wisdom I discovered in my career. I’ve had some great role models, and sometimes just had to figure stuff out myself. Please continue to read, share and comment, I love knowing you are around. – Brian

Trackbacks

  1. […] few weeks back I posted a video debating Mark Cuban’s assertion that sports management degrees were a waste – I tried to get Mark to face off against me First Take #embracedebate style, but apparently […]

  2. […] read and listened to your video blog, transcript and comments on Work In Sports re: Mark Cuban’s comments on a Sports Management degree. I shared it with my daughter, who is entering East Stroudsburg University (Pennsylvania) this fall […]

  3. […] seem to be talking about Sports Management degrees and pointing out how terrible they are – Mark Cuban, this guy, the New York Times, and I’m sure Ann Coulter will weigh-in on it […]

Speak Your Mind

*