Convincing Your Parents You Are Serious About a Sports Career - Work in Sports e071

Many parents don't take your idea of a sports career seriously - how do you convince them you mean business, and the sports industry is the place to be? We have a strategy for that.

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the WorkinSports podcast…

Let’s get to the good stuff first – shout outs are in order – fan of the show and member of our private facebook group Kelsey Smith accepted an offer to become an inside sales resident with the Tampa Bay Lighting – congrats to Kelsey. She’s a graduate student in the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management program at the University of South Florida and as part of their program they work with major sports teams and leagues. It’s a very cool program that puts a high emphasis on experience – which I endorse.

Second shout out, this time to Brandon Clemmons another member of our private Facebook group – Brandon just accepted at internship with the Colonnade Group at University of Oklahoma Athletic Hospitality. For those who are not familiar, Colonnade is one of the biggest names in hospitality and event management – they are huge in college sports, almost every power five conference school uses Colonnade to help improve and coordinate game day events and in sports podcast with brian clapp

If you have a success story you want to share on the show – email me, – we like good news.

But I am going to transition for a moment, because the news is not all good.

As most if not all of you know there was a terrible tragedy in Western Canada this weekend where 15 members of the Humbolt Broncos junior hockey team were killed when their bus was collided into by a semi-truck carrying a load of peat moss.

I don’t want to get too heavyhearted, but this struck me very hard this weekend and I didn’t want to shy away from what I think makes this podcast very real and honest. The reasons it hit me so hard are many, and I won’t go through them all but I will narrow it to a few.

There is something about that feeling you get, amongst friends, playing sports, competing and sharing in something so pure and special it just can’t be replaced. There are moments in my life that took places on buses just like this one, that have left indelible marks on my brain. I can’t recall what I did this past Halloween but I have an exact visual of the bus rides we used to take to our sports events. There is something special about that lead up, looking around at your teammates and preparing for the next moment.

It feels so wrong, and so unfair and unjustified that these young men on the cusp of so much in their lives, just 16-20 years old from a small community, would have this all stolen from them. It just makes me feels so raw and wretched for them and their families. These bus rides are in theory, the untainted moments in life.

The second reason I want to bring this up is because I want you all to think about how you consume information of all kinds.

We’ve all become guilty of headline reading. Skimming pages for information and moving along. We’ve added speed to our desire to get knowledge – it’s not just information gathering it’s how much and how fast. We don’t really read anymore. We don’t really consume to story. And I think that is sad. I say this as a plea for all stories of all measures of emotions, they deserve to be read and absorbed in to your psyche. The reason we write is to inform and to share, but also to explore emotions.

No matter how difficult it may be to read stories like this, I implore you to do so, to read the quotes, the reactions – look at the faces connect with the community. Because it will deepen you. It will awaken things within you you’ve allowed to numb. I say this as a message to myself, not some preach to you. I’ve become so numb to these stories after years in the storytelling an content creating business, that I haven’t conjured these emotions often enough.

One of my favorite philosophers is a guy named Khalil Gibran and in one of his theorems he explains that you can’t really feel or understand joy until you have become in touch with pain. It makes sense, you need to be able to compare the emotional toll, to allow it context. So feel stories like this, and absorb them into your emotional luggage, but also spend the time ingesting the good stories and remarking in their gravity as well.

Alright – I think that’s enough of that. I hope you don’t mind me being a bit honest and raw with that.

Let’s get into today’s question – it comes from Abby at the University of Florida:

How do you tell your parents that you want to work in sports although they are skeptical on it being an actual career? Coming from a very conservative family who thinks a sports job is temporary and is not taken seriously. 

Abby – what a remarkable question.

I find this fascinating and incredibly misguided all in one sentence. Wait I didn’t say that right – you aren’t misguided, I find it incredibly misguided of your parents or anyone to be so misled by superficial analysis into the sports industry into thinking it isn’t a viable career choice.

Here’s my take.

Parents who question your desire and excitement to work in sports, aren’t going to be convinced by emotion. Your discussion with them will not pivot on you explaining how much you love sports, how happy it makes you, or how you gain a feeling of self-worth and acceptance you’ve never had in life before.

I don’t know your dad, but I can kind of envision him hearing you say words, not really taking any of them seriously and then at the end of your emotional plea saying “you should work in accounting, that’s a real job.”

You see parents have to be able to understand something themselves, it has to fit in their box of acceptable answers to have merit and for them, and many others, sports is a fun sideshow, a way to kill time, or gather up just enough info to converse with co-workers the next day at the water cooler.

Or worse yet, they are the types of parents that have no interest or see no value in sports whatsoever. They see the athletes as spoiled brats who make too much, and should be donating their huge salaries to the teachers in the neighborhood who do real good.

Someone who thinks in these ways are not going to be convinced that your happiness or your emotional calculus is all that important in your career choice.

To them it’s all about doing something that fits into one of their big categories – like business, accounting, teaching, engineering, computers – these are easy for them to digest and give off a sense of stability they can sleep with at night.

What they are missing is that they, and Uncle Fred and Aunt Margaret and all of their cousins, have gone through a life of non-descript jobs, never feeling passion or excitement in their day-to-day. Never feeling the urgency or unexpected life of sports. The slogged through their cubicles, watching sports at night and on the weekends, always putting it init’s perfect category – this over here is the entertainment portion of my life, and then I’ve got this otherbox that is labelled work – and they can’t coincide.

This is of course – horse shit.

So how do you combat this mentality? With data.

Parents may listen to data, actual proof, that success is ahead if you follow the divine light of sports.

Here’s where we are going with this:


  • According to Plunkett research and Dunn and Bradstreet - Sports is a 1.274 trillion dollar global industry – to put that in perspective, the restaurant industry is a 550 billion. The real estate industry 355 billion which with some simple math says the sports industry generates more revenue than the restaurant and real estate industries combined.


Think about that for a second – if you told your parents you were going into commercial real estate, or to manage a restaurant – they wouldn’t’ blink an eye. And yet, the sports industry brings in more revenue than all of these industries combined.



  • There are thousands of different sports careers available, many of which overlap with more traditional sectors. There are jobs in finance, event management, human resources, sales, marketing, operations, economics – these jobs are more “typical”, something your parents can swallow, but are just housed under a sports franchise or agency. They are rooted in principles they understand, the only difference is what you sell, or what you market, or what you help organize. If you told them you were going to work in marketing for a tire company, they’d probably be fine… so ask them to articulate why marketing for a sports team would be any less reasonable?


Quote from the experts:

In 2008 during the great recession The Economist (a pretty conservative magazine) stated, “Sports are, by and large, standing up to recession better than most other industries.”

Why is that?

Through good times and bad, people pay to see their heroes in action. Always have, always will – because sports are an escape from the everyday – an outlet for human competitiveness and aggression that will always have an audience.

The simple fact is, as long as fans continue to put their butts in the seats, buy t-shirts and hats, watch games on television and read sports blogs:

Sports will never go out of fashion and will never become obsolete, and neither will sports jobs.

That’s what your parents need to grasp – this isn’t you trying to rebel, going somewhere wrought with failure and subjecting yourself to years of struggle – this is a thriving industry, with interesting jobs and marketable skills in demand.

Sports aren’t going away – they are getting stronger and expanding. Look to a future when Lacrosse and rugby and eSports and soccer continue to grow on US soil. Look to a future when advancements in technology and marketing advance the way we ingest knowledge.

Here’s the deal, attack the data Abby and you’ll convince your parents this is a worthwhile focus for your life… and if not, you’re a big girl, do it anyway.

That’s it for today, Abby going to get a free month at so she can find that sports job she needs!

Talk to you all Wednesday.


By Brian Clapp | April 09, 2018
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