Manager signing contract in sports hall

Learning Sports Business is the Angle you Need to Take - Here's Why

By Brian Clapp | October 11, 2016
san diego sports mba
The sports industry needs more people with a strong background in business
Sports are often boiled down into visuals for the average fan. See ball, follow ball, cheer for person hitting/shooting/throwing ball.

But to limit sports to that overly simplistic viewpoint conceals the identity of the true industry movers and shakers. Sports are a $600-billion-dollar international industry with thousands of employees directly connected to each home run, not just the guy swinging the bat.

While the average fan may believe sports are nothing more than on field competition and a good reason to barbecue in a parking lot, sports industry veterans come to a much different conclusion that has little to do with the final score:

Sports are about running a business.

Take the Dallas Cowboys for example, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1995, in fact, since that last Super Bowl victory over 20 years ago, they have only won three playoff games. Despite this two decade run of mediocrity they are the most valuable franchise in sports, 25 places ahead of last year’s Super Bowl winner, the Denver Broncos.

In sports, value isn’t established solely by who wins the most, it comes from operating a business the right way with emphasis and resources designated to marketing, economics, management, analysis and corporate leadership. It’s the business folk behind the scenes who help drive revenue and shape the organization from the inside out.

To really make it in the sports industry, look past the SportsCenter moments and recognize understanding the business of sports is the angle you need to take.

sports business sdsu mba
The SDSU Sports MBA program is an intensive 18-month program starting each year in January. Students learn what makes the sports world go round: business.
“The San Diego State University Sports MBA program is the perfect program for students wholly dedicated to the task of becoming proficient in sports business,” says Scott Minto, Director of the SDSU Sports MBA program. “Our program is intensive, completing in just 18 months, so students have to be willing to put in the work.

“This isn’t for people that want to move to San Diego just for the great weather. We give our students the tools to achieve whatever they desire in sports business, but they need to put the work in.”

Unlike the majority of Master’s programs which begin in the fall, at SDSU classes begin in January each year. Students stay on campus for their first year taking 13 courses over three semesters (Spring, Summer, Fall), then serve as graduate consultants with a sports organization over their final semester while completing their thesis.

“Students can be anywhere their last 6 months, if you choose to work with a sports organization in Boston we can make that happen because of our vast network of alumni and contacts in the industry. We find that spending a full year teaching our students all the aspects of sports business -from economics to analytics - prepares them to transition into a career-minded focus over their last semester.

“Our students graduate seamlessly into their job.”

Agility is not a term often used to describe advanced education, as many programs take a set it and forget it attitude towards curriculum. At SDSU they realize the need to adjust and tweak the curriculum to fit the movements of the industry.

sdsu sports mba sports business books
The SDSU Sports MBA program isn't for the faint of heart. Heavy workload ahead.
“The SDSU Sports MBA program is heavily focused on the analytics and technology space,” adds Minto. “In recent years we’ve added courses in Statistical Analysis, Market Research and Data Driven Decision Making because we needed to adapt our product to attend to the needs of the sports marketplace.”

San Diego should be a draw for prospective students as well, but not for the reason you might think.

“If you are going to be in the sports industry you need to be around sports. Southern California is the sports and entertainment capital; heavy sports business gets done right here. There are so many opportunities for students to get involved in while they are in school - NFL, MLB, college, surf industry, golf industry, MMA, endurance sports. There is also a burgeoning San Diego sports and technology start-up environment.

“San Diego is the place to be and it isn’t just because of our perfect weather.”

The Sports MBA curriculum includes all courses necessary for an AACSB-accredited MBA, with each one specifically tailored to the contemporary sports business. This is an accelerated program, intended for high performing students who thrive in an intensive environment.

The deadline to apply for the next session, starting in January, is November 1st.

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