I Want to Work in Sports! …Now What?

I want to work in sports“I want to work in sports because I love sports!”

If you are serious about working in sports, you need to remove this phrase from your vocabulary.

I was once in your shoes, and while I was advised early on never to say this, I still had the mentality that surrounds this logic. But let me be clear. The most successful executives in the sports industry experienced success because they aspired to be the best at their position, not just because they loved sports.

When I accepted the offer to join the San Francisco 49ers as a salary cap administrator in their front office, I immediately thought about all of the perks. I saw myself participating in negotiations, viewing practices from the front office porch situated over the practice fields in Santa Clara, and contributing to solutions that would drive the club’s salary cap position and roster makeup.

The reality couldn’t have been further from my distorted expectations.

The first tip I received upon my arrival: Don’t let them catch you out on the porch watching practice, because organizations don’t look to hire fans.

So I stayed away from the executive porch.

I did what I was told, performed every assignment to the best of my ability, and asked as many questions as I could to learn about my role in the organization. I wasn’t in San Francisco long, but I used the lessons learned as a salary cap administrator to switch sides in the business and become a certified NFL agent.

I Want to Work in Sports! ...Now What? #sportsbiz Click To Tweet

Through all of this, how much I loved sports never came to mind. It should never be the basis for your interest in working in sports. Instead, the following tips in this three-part series will help you identify your strengths/weaknesses, build a network encompassing the right professionals in a position to assist you, and land your dream job in sports.

Laying The Foundation

A strong foundation is fundamental to achieving professional success in any industry. Students and aspiring professionals are so excited to land their first job and work in sports that they fail to start with the basics.

In my book From Mascot To Agent And Everything In Between, I advise readers that the first step towards launching a career in sports is a thorough self-assessment of one’s strengths, weaknesses, and, ultimately, passions.

I have mentored many students and young professionals in my short career and a common theme that surfaces is a lack of self-awareness. Understanding your strengths and what you do best is paramount to a strong foundation, which one can obtain through self-reflection.

A common theme amongst students & young pros: a lack of self-awareness #sportsbiz Click To Tweet

1. Self-awareness through self-reflection

You are inherently better at certain things than others.

For instance, I can work a room and find a way to relate to just about everyone in that room. Relating with others is something that comes naturally to me, and it is one of the strengths that I use almost on a daily basis.

To the contrary, I have no concept of time when it comes to project planning and scheduling. I want to squeeze as much as possible into the limited time I have on this earth. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a weakness of mine that I have to account for in order to be successful.

Before you consider the position in the sports industry that you aspire to, take a minute to reflect and write down your top 7-10 strengths. Identify your top 7-10 weaknesses only after you have identified all of your strengths.

Be very thorough.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

Once you have a final list of your different strengths and weaknesses, review the lists separately, beginning with your strengths, and number them in sequential order. This will help you identify your top five strengths and top five weaknesses. This level of self-awareness will assist you when identifying the positions in the industry that represent your greatest likelihood of success.

*Bonus Tip: To confirm your greatest strengths and weaknesses, ask a co-worker, close friend or family member to conduct this same exercise about you and compare the results.

2. Identify your passion

I identified that I wanted to be a sports agent when I was 18-years-old. And I went on to accomplish my “dream” job. But I didn’t know a single thing about the sports agency business at that time.

It took me years to understand what I needed to do in order to position myself to enter the athlete representation field. In hindsight, I would have done things differently.

Information is at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Every position in the sports industry has been profiled and elaborated upon to help readers understand the responsibilities of every role. Darren Heitner founded the Sports Agent Blog, which highlights the athlete representation business. Brian Gainor started Partnership Activation, an industry-leading resource showcasing sports marketing and sponsorship trends and best practices for marketing professionals. (…and there is this really handy blog right here at WorkinSports.com)

Resources now exist to identify your passion, and, more importantly, confirm that your passion is exactly what you think it is.

Once you’ve pinpointed the position of your interest, conduct research and gather as much information as you can about the responsibilities of the position, the path others took to obtain that role and the nuances that exist across the professional leagues or organizations that have similar, but slightly different, roles in the industry (i.e., salary cap analysts, legal counsel, etc.).

If you are a student, use this to your advantage. Professionals are much more inclined to help a student than a professional. The latter is perceived as a threat, whereas the former often is not.

3. Determine if your greatest strengths naturally align with your passion

The convergence of your strengths and career interests represents your greatest likelihood for success.

Once you’ve confirmed that a particular role in the industry is the right job for you, compare the list of responsibilities associated with the role and determine whether your greatest strengths are demanded of someone in that position. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t line up naturally.

Identify specific responsibilities or aspects of the role that you will need to direct more attention to if you land the job and begin to refine and improve these areas.

The convergence of your strengths & interests is your greatest chance for success #sportsbiz Click To Tweet

If your strengths line up with the requirements of the job, then you are in a position to continue reaching out to professionals in the industry that occupy, have occupied, or have an interest in occupying the same position you aspire to. In Part 2, you will learn how to approach these executives and make them part of your network.

“For access to the full self-assessment, you can purchase From Mascot To Agent And Everything In Between by visiting www.jhstrategists.com or buying directly from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.”

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Comments

  1. Daniel Scott Jr says:

    I would like to thank u for your advice bout working in the sport business,however I want to learn more about working with a sport team coaching and scouting job i want to be more then a fan to the game i want to know how to do a job for a team front office so I can study how to do my job correctly so i can help make the team better i like working with other that my strength that i can bring to the team

    • Daniel,

      I understand and that is very important. Keep in mind this is a 3-part series. So stay tuned and then we can connect to discuss further after the series runs.

      Justin

  2. Angela Whitney says:

    Considering career change. I need advice on what might be the best fit for healthcare/MBA background.

  3. Hey thank you for the advice. I’m trying to be a sports broadcaster, being a female trying to break into this industry is hard to do. All I can say is I try to promote myself as much as I can where ever I go.

  4. Thank you for this very thoughtful blog post. Ironically, it has always irked me a bit when people ask why others want to work in sports and the answer is the basic “because I love sports.” There is no creativity in that, zero ingenuinty and it’s an insult to common sense. Lol I jest with a sarcastic smirk but truly it’s such a predictable answer in such an unpredictable market.

    I’ve played sports my entire life and was able to play professionally which was my dream at a young age. I’ve coached club soccer along with high school but primarily club and primarily kids seeking to play at the next level. Yes, it’s obvious I love sports, I grew up in a sports heavy family where most everyone achieved a level of respect athletically.

    However, sports (as you know) is far more than just a game it’s a way of life and teaches those who participate the most important aspects of character. I became a solid team player, a strong confident leader and communicator, a competitor, a driven, hardworking, dependable go-getter that presented a foundation of organization, passion and grit, a problem solver and a motivator, I can give a public speech to get a crowd cheering or inspired to dig deeper to the core of themselves, a scout, a recruiter, a coach, a mentor, and a role model.

    Building rapports and networking are such basic skills but heavily overlooked at times. Relationships are key to any business transaction. Like the old saying goes, “people don’t buy products, they buy from the person selling said product”.

    I believe in my heart I belong in sports because it’s a gift … a God given gift. I would love to see what is available to me and learn from experts such as yourself on how to get there. jsovie22@gmail.com

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  1. […] “I want to work in sports because I love sports!” If you are serious about working in sports, you need to remove this phrase from your vocabulary. I was once in your shoes, and while I was advised early on never to say this, I still had the mentality that surrounds this logic. But let […] WorkInSports.com – Sports Career Blog […]

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