How to Turn Your Dead End Job into a Sports Career

dead end job sports careers

If you’ve realized your current job has no future, don’t accept it, look for change

Everyone needs to work.

To survive, and hopefully thrive, we work, we earn, we spend and we enjoy. This isn’t just the American way, it’s the human condition, and there is nothing wrong with it. Unless you are working somewhere you can’t stand to be.

Most people dream of a special career that they love, so why do we all so often miss that dream?

When you are young, you can point to the future and say, ‘that is when I’ll make my mark’, but sometimes life changes, and the next thing you know you aren’t in that dream career, you’re just trying to get by.

The day will come where you will look back and lament the decisions you didn’t make. Maybe you’ll blame others, maybe you’ll blame yourself.

None of these things help.

It’s time to look forward.

Thousands, possibly millions, of people dream every year about sports careers, it’s time to craft a simple plan to turn your dead end job into something special.

[bctt tweet=”How to Turn Your Dead End Job into a Sports Career #sportsbiz “]

Phase 1: Analyze Yourself and Your Skills

Even if you’re career has consisted of a long list of nothing jobs, the fact is, you’ve learned and accomplished more that you know.

Put on your positive thinking hat for a moment and start really digging in to who you are.

dead end job sports careers

Go through this process with vigor for the best results, don’t channel your inner eeyore

  1. You have a dead end job – well what have you learned there? Don’t get lazy and mumble nothing, like eeyore would. Have you learned sales? Marketing? Human resources? Managing people? Hiring? Firing? Budgeting? These are all skills that are applicable in almost any industry.
  2. Start writing down accomplishments, really think – how have I impacted my dead end industry? Did you increase sales or revenue? Did you improve efficiency? Did you generate additional business partnerships?
  3. If you went to college, look through your old books or course work, sometimes they can refresh your memory for something you’ve learned and possibly loved once. These are skills! They may be rusty, but they are concepts you are familiar with and can be redeveloped again.

This is just phase one, but after even just this exercise you should start to have a picture of what kind of sports career might be suited for you.

Let’s say you’ve discovered that you have some solid skills and experience in sales, and that when you really think about it, that’s what you enjoy doing because you like to connect with other people. You just aren’t inspired by what you are currently selling.

According to Bart Foley, Vice President/General Manager of ROOT Sports Northwest sports careers in media sales are a real possibility,” It’s actually not that difficult to get into television or radio ad sales. Most college graduates are gravitating toward other fields like technology and thus, it’s never been easier to get started. There are support positions like Sales Assistants and Sales Coordinators that work behind the scenes and those too are great places to learn the ropes.”

When we are stuck in a dead end job, everything seems insurmountable so we just keep plugging along, willing to accept change will never come our way.

Not anymore. Change is coming for you.

Phase 2: Understand the Skills Necessary

Sometimes the most important skill isn’t something you can learn in a classroom.

“I’m looking for people who are hungry, passionate and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” says FuelTV’s Steve Becker.

“I’m a Coordinating Producer, but I’m not afraid to do intern or Production Assistant work if it’s going to help get the job done.  You can teach people how to log, pick good highlights and sound bites, etc., but desire and willingness to do whatever needs to be done are traits that are inherent and those are the people that I want on my team.”

But there are skills that need to be learned, and that is where our job board can be particularly helpful.

The most obvious use of a job board is to find job openings (pretty smart of me right), but the real power house opportunity is to research what is happening in your desired section of the sports industry.

After Phase 1 you’ve rediscovered what skills you have, now you have to figure out what the industry wants and needs.

[bctt tweet=”To get hired, its on you to find out what the industry needs and see how you fit #sportsbiz”]

Here’s how it works:

  1. Do a keyword search over at in the area where you have skills. If you click the link you’ll follow a keyword search for ‘Sports Marketing’.
  2. Start opening up job descriptions, but don’t concern yourself with location, these aren’t necessarily jobs you’ll plan on applying to.
  3. Read the job skills/requirements and begin writing them all down in a master list
  4. 5-7 jobs should be enough to get you started.
  5. Compare the skills employers are looking for, with what you already have

This step is about confirming your strengths and pointing out your weaknesses. You may find out, you have what companies are looking for. Or you may find out you need work in certain areas.

Really focus on the tangible skills, like a certain software or technology, because that is where you can make up the gap easiest.

For example, if  a job is requiring 10 years of experience and you have three, there is not much you can do but keep working.

But if a job requires experience with a certain CRM system (customer relationship management) that you aren’t familiar with, but you have worked with other CRM systems before, well then you can set a goal to start learning the new industry standard.

Which brings us to….

Phase 3: Write Out Your Goals

The first phases were about discovering who you are, now we’re going to put a plan together for who you want to be.

Here are some poignant sayings I had nothing to do with:

  • “Write your goals down, if they are not written down they are just dreams” – Brian Kim
  • “Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning is he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” Aristotle (I couldn’t find a link to his blog?)
  • “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else” – Yogi Berra
  • “Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life” – Les Brown, American speaker and author

    setting goals sports career

    Setting goals and writing them down is an essential part of any important project

Forgetting all the puffery for a second and getting back to data – according to a a study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals than those without written goals.

In phase two, we discussed the discovery of skills that are needed in various sports careers. Now we can turn that discovery into specific measurable goals, like:

  • Over the next three months I will learn Microsoft CRM
  • I will take an online class to learn Final Cut Pro editing by June
  • By Thanksgiving I will learn how Google Adwords works and the strategies behind it
  • In the next three years I’m going to acquire all the skills necessary to find a job behind the scenes in sports broadcasting

Goals are something you can’t give up on, no matter how hard it gets to see the finish line, “The biggest piece of advice I can give is the biggest cliche there is – don’t give up,” says NFL on Fox Sideline Reporter Laura Okmin.

“I don’t remember how many tapes I sent out before I finally got my break, but it definitely wasn’t my first or my 10th. I made 10 thousand dollars for my first job in Montgomery, Alabama working sports on the weekends and news during the week. It took a long time to crack that door open but I was there just one year until I moved up to Chattanooga, Tennessee. That first door was the hardest to push open. I’m so thankful that I kept pushing.”

Feeling motivated?

[bctt tweet=”If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else – Yogi Berra #sportsbiz”]

Already you know who you are, you’ve discovered the skills you need to enhance and you have a list of goals to get you to the ultimate destination.

Now we have to get you up to speed in the sports industry.

Phase 4: Time to Study

Part of succeeding in any industry is understanding what is special and unique about it. If I walked into a Physicians convention tomorrow I would not be able to converse with anyone there, I’d stand out for the wrong reasons.

Being up to speed in the sports industry does not mean you know who won the big game last night, or came in second in your fantasy football league. It means you understand the business going on behind  the operation.

Start reading trade magazines and blogs, there is a bevy of free information out there that you need to start being familiar with in these sectors:

  • Sports Law
  • Sports Broadcasting Rights
  • Ticket Sales
  • Ratings
  • Sports Merchandising
  • Sports Technology

Educate yourself in these areas if you are going to break free from your dead end world. Being able to speak intelligently about the issues facing various parts of the sports industry will set you apart in the interview phase. Plus, it will give you confidence because you’ve taken the time to learn what is current.

One of the underused methods of learning is by commenting on blogs. Most people comment on ESPN or other major sites to be insulting or to try to show how smart they are. Because of this, commenting gets a bad rap.

Try going to a blog you’ve read for a while and ask a question in the comments. You’ll be amazed how many times you get a thought-provoking answer. Look at our blog, I wrote an article titled “Entry Level Sports Jobs with Real Growth Potential” while it only got 8 comments, I responded to every single one in great detail. You’ll be amazed to see the intelligent responses you can get from commenting and asking questions.

Truth is, this very post was inspired by a Facebook question from one of our fans who asked, “I’m 30 years old and I hate my job –what should I do?”

I started writing out this huge response…and then I stopped and said, “I’m going to write this up for you in a blog post, stay tuned, I’ll email it to you.”

Phase 5: Volunteer

Interning is the absolute best way to start finding your way in the sports or entertainment industry. At an internship you’ll get hands-on experience and work next to people you can learn so much from. Internships are the new job interview, and your best opportunity to prove your worth to a potential employer.

coaching sports career

If you want to get into coaching, volunteering at a small college is a great way to get your name out there

But what if you are already out of college and can’t get an internship? Volunteer.

If you want to get into coaching – approach a small college program and offer to volunteer.

If you want to be a scout – identify some lower level area scouts for your favorite team and see if you can shadow them for the day.

If you want to work in sports television – contact the main desk and see if they need any volunteers to log tapes or watch and record games.

When you are volunteering you become a recognizable face in the organization you choose. It’s not ideal, and can be taxing, but if you leverage the opportunity the right way it can have great results. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Take the time to network with the people around you
  2. Do every task to the best of your ability; don’t think anything is below you
  3. Show passion
  4. Once you’ve established yourself a bit and people know who you are, start asking questions – how do you break in full time? What type of positions are the hardest to fill? Do you ever hear of full-time jobs at other places?

You’ll be surprised how many people will help you if you have the right attitude.

[bctt tweet=”You’ll be surprised how many people help you if you have the right attitude #sportsbiz”]

Final Thought

The idea here is to give you hope and motivation – don’t just sit in your dead end cubicle wishing you were doing something you loved. Follow this simple plan and you never know, it just might set you free.

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 &

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

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.


  1. Josh Nuding says

    I found this very inspiring, and informative. As a late bloomer, I decided to go back to school at 28 for a degree in sports management. Thank you for the awesome tips on how to keep my goals advancing forward.

    • Yeah Josh! That’s what we were going for – to inform and inspire. Now you’ve piqued my interest…what were you doing before you decided to go back to school? Was it a dead end career that didn’t satisfy you? What do you plan to do after you finish your sports management degree? – Brian

    • Ankit Singh says

      I am one of your kind, late bloomer! I am already 28 and preparing to take sports management next year, but I am confused if I am late for this. Do you have some words of motivation.

    • Never too late Ankit! I’ve known plenty of people who have changed careers late, if you study hard and master your skills you will be successful! – Brian

  2. Jason McCalla says

    As I have read through this information, I found it informative and beneficial to us in this competitive world. It helps us to seek a way to better ourselves and to release some of the stress that we are now facing. I thank you all for these encouraging words.

    • Jason – I’m glad we were able to provide some guidance or even just encouragement. It’s so easy to feel trapped, like there is no way out so you are stuck on a CD set to repeat. It’s not easy to break the mold, but it is possible. Hopefully this article inspired you and others. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions in the comments if you have them. I personally answer every inquiry. – Brian

  3. What advice do you have for Someone who is seeking to be a Sports Broadcaster ie Play by Play?

  4. Dave Petteruto says

    Thanks for the informative article Brian. My question is–at age 53 am I over the hill as far as what employers might want or look for?


    • Dave that’s a really good question, I think it all depends on what you want to do and what experience you have. If you have had a career in marketing and want to get into sports marketing, well I don’t think being 53 poses a problem. If you are looking to start 100% from scratch, like you have spent your career in sales and now you want to be a a sportscaster…well, that might be harder. Nothing is impossible though. If you can give me some specifics for who you are and what you want I may be able to help a little better. – Brian

    • Hi Brian, Thanks for your reply, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.
      As for myself, I come from a printing/graphics computer background for the most part. Although about 7 years ago I did start a part time high school sports video and recruiting service called On Screen Productions.
      I’d really like to get out of the computer printing end of things and work more with sports video. Something like working at a local college in their sports video department would be very intriguing to me, but I never seem to see those types of jobs being advertised. Any thoughts?
      Thanks for your time.

    • Dave – actually you’d be amazed how many of those jobs I see on a daily basis – almost every collegiate program has a sports video department, athletic videos are big revenue generators so colleges are doing more and more. Now, a lot of the time they’ll use student labor, but they also without a doubt hire outside help. I just had a friend who became the director of athletic video for SMU, and another working at Notre Dame in a similar capacity…I”ve seen job postinsg at big schools like Texas Tech and Alabama, and smaller schools. So where is home for you? – Brian

    • I’m located in The San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. Lots of schools around me!

    • Yeah that’s a good location to get things started, you should absolutely keep an eye on our job postings we have a lot of relationships with colleges and universities, they post on our service often…let me know how it goes! – Brian

  5. Thanks for your time Brian, I really appreciate it.

  6. Brian, I am seeing this at the perfect time. I graduated from college in May and am currently in a sales and marketing position I do not see myself continuing with. I majored in Media Arts & Design but feel like my real strengths lie with my leadership, creativity, and relational skills. I’m definitely going to go through these phases and try to find the best fit for me. I am already in the process of applying to the Sports Industry Management program at Georgetown and attempting to find sports related jobs/internships in the DC area. Just wanted to say that timing is everything and I am certainly lucky I found this article when I did because my hopes were slipping, but now I feel like I’m just getting started!
    Thanks! – Brad

    • Brad – thanks for writing in, it means the world to hear that our article has helped you out! Stay motivated, the opportunities are out there. I’m actually in the process of interviewing a digital content editor for…his undergrad degree was in Media Arts & Design and he went to get his masters at Georgetown…now he’s on to big things at… I’m not making this up! Keep an eye out for that interview to be posted soon, it could give you even more inspiration. – Brian

    • Oh wow! That is very inspiring and quite ironic! I will definitely stay on the look out for the interview! Hopefully someday it will be me up there!
      – Brad

  7. Brian,

    Took your advice and read this piece. Excellent read. The question then becomes, I’ve been (amazingly surprised) doing a lot of what you recommend. Can’t do the schooling right now (finances) but digesting everything, doing training for software etc.

    So how do you get the doors opened – specifically when you are coming from a different field.

    • Hey Michael, thanks for reading the dead end job into sports career article too. Have you been applying for sports jobs but not getting any bites? I did an interview recently with Lauren Hindman the director of marketing for the Texas Stars of the AHL, she mentioned that her career started in a non-sports marketing role, and as she tried to transition she didn’t get too many bites until she started doing internships for various teams ( She went through the online sports management program at Drexel University, may be worth researching, I know they are cheaper than traditional brick and mortar schools. (Check it out on one of our sister sites.) Also, I know I mentioned this in the article but consider volunteering with sports teams (think minor leagues) in your area or small colleges, they always need help and it’s a way to start building sports specific skills and contacts. – Talk soon, Brian

  8. This article was right on time for me! I just turned 29 (a week ago today) and all of my experience is in retail sales management and small business sales. I hate it!!!! I’m so unhappy and want to shift to a career in sports. My indergraduage degree is in marketing and I used to write for the sports section while in school but I don’t have any hands on experience. I would be starting entry level and I’m totally cool with that. I’m definitely going to take all of the advice here and start setting some specific goals for my dre career. Thanks for the post!

  9. Brian!
    Great article! Before I read this, I felt like I was the only person on this planet who wanted to end my dead end job and break into the sports industry. I honestly did not know there are others out there like me so thank you for this!
    I have a sales background but specifically in the financial services arena (banks, insurance etc). I’ve recently added philanthropy and fundraising to my skill set. But because of my passion for sports, a friend and I have recently started a non profit youth travel basketball program. And after reading this article, Im more than inspired to make a change but have no idea where to go. I’ve reached out to people at Nike, Adidas, Spaulding, Under Armour, 2K Sports and even the NBA but with no luck due to the fact that Im competing with guys who have the sports background and I don’t. Any other directions you can point me towards? Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!


    • Ken – I appreciate the kind words, glad the article hit you in a good spot! My suggestion whenever someone is changing careers is to start small – and by small I don’t mean Nike, Adidas et all. Your sales background should help you because everyone needs good sales people, look into sports radio stations and sports tv networks (maybe not ESPN, but maybe a regional fox network or Root Sports type). Honestly I think one of the best ways to search would be by following this link: we currently post over 1400 sales jobs in sports! I’m sure there is a perfect match in there for you! – Brian

  10. Don Duncanson says

    Hi Brian!
    Great article! I’m 54 and would love to be a stadium announcer and/or sports team statistician, appealing to both sides of my personality loving the announcing but also a numbers geek at heart. I live in Orlando, Florida. I’ve done both at the little league and high school level, including writing game recaps. Any hope for me?

  11. Sir ,
    i had Completed Master of Technology in Electronics and Communication. i am passionate about sports industry since y childhood.I don’t have any idea how i utilize my study in this field.I love sports technology. The use of technology in sports always enthrall me. so please give me suitable right path to sports industry.Thanking you

  12. Pierce Donnachie says


    I literally just got in the door from work, 3.15 am (food & beverage waiter) and thought to myself, “I’m going to check my emails” for a career I want to pursue, because life is just too short and I need CHANGE! Your article is a real wake up call and truly inspiring! I studied sports and exercise (soccer) in college. ‘Coaching’ and ‘Video Analysis’ were my main focus and I would love to work in America, in the sports industry. Help and advice would be hugely appreciated.



  13. Joe Leonard says

    Career changer here, working on my Master’s in sports management. I’ve been a volunteer coach at the youth level for the last 5 years. I’ve established myself in the community but now it’s time to expand my network and advance to the next level/ challenge.

  14. Mike Coleman says

    Very good article. Seems it was more designed for those 30 and under. I am 45 work in non profit youth sports. Feel like I have been in the youth sports box and will have trouble going on to something else in the sports world. Any advice?

    • Hey Mike thanks for reading, I can see why you would say that – let me see if I can come up with some more targeted advice for you. – Brian

  15. Jordan Waddell says

    Hey Brian, thank you for writing this article. It’s kind of exactly what I needed to see/hear. I am a gigantic sports enthusiast who has played baseball, golf, hockey, and basketball basically my entire life. At age 16 I took a job with my hometown WHL hockey team The Spokane Chiefs as a section leader and eventually made my way up to the bench helping out the equipment manager. My dad worked in the front office and I knew working in sports was exactly what I wanted to do. My financial status limited me to only finishing the first year of the two year Associates degree program at my local CC. After that most of my experience as come in the retail sales field in particular AT&T. I was 20 when i started but now I am 25 and in the middle of applying back to school because I’m sick of a job I absolutely hate. What’s the best route for me to take from here? Thanks!

    • Hey Jordan thanks for reading the article – there are some great ideas in the article to help you get started gravitating towards a sports career – start there and comment again with how they are going! – Brian

  16. Ankit Singh says

    A great read, I am researching about sports career & I read this article. I find most of my questions answered, but I have to share something with you Brian! In India people say “Kheloge kudoge to honge kharab, padhoge likhoge to banoge nawab” which means your life will be a waste if you play but if you study or do well in academics you will be a king, good news is we have left this proverb back & started making mark in sports but still a lot to explore. Things like sports sponsorship, athlete management, sports analytics all these domains are not available in India at a level where it can be distributed to people who desire and I want to explore why are we so slow in developing this.
    The only option I have is to explore and study how sports system works in European & American countries.
    Please share some resources you have which I can read for my preparation for sports management career.Thanks

  17. Hi, I’m going to be 21 in June and have been drifting since high school feeling like its to late for me as I’ve been looking for my passion. I Love sports and want to get as close to it as possible I’ve read one of your other blogs and was wondering if you have more helpful info so i knew what schooling i need to achieve this huge goal i put before me. Please

  18. Hi Brain,

    Thanks for great article. I am 35 with good experience in sales and people management. Looking to be out of dead end job and sports is something I always wanted to get into. In India sports have taken big leap recently there was nothing much 10 years before when I graduated. If you can advice me how now I can make my career into sports. I am ready for challenges but clueless where to start from.

  19. Thanks for such amazing tips. Avoid these dead jobs to avoid. I have read a blog similar to yours for avoiding dead jobs.


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  2. […] need to be willing to do a wide range of work, I find that the more critical attributes are being able to do a wide range of work and quickly learning to fill in your gaps in knowledge or […]

  3. […] then began volunteering my assistance in other departments and helped create structure in the Merchandise Licensing department, which […]

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  8. […] first step is to find out what skills the sports industry needs and how your skill set fits in […]

  9. […] career change is going to require sacrifice especially if you are taking a new path. In the Working in Sports article How to Turn your Dead End Job into a Sports Career, they recommend volunteering or interning as the best way into the sports or entertainment […]