Figuring Out Your Passion in the Sports Industry - Work In Sports Podcast

It's the most frequent question we receive -- "I love sports, what should I do for my career?" listen to this episode of the Work In Sports podcast for some ideas

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

A couple of quick notes before we jump into today’s fan question:

Note #1: Quarantine kind of stinks. It is essential, I’m glad we are all taking it seriously, but this stinks. 

Note #2: So many of you that I know from our audience are posting that they’ve been laid off, or your job has been furloughed -- and this hurts me to my core. This feels like something I’m seeing every time I log in to LinkedIn - another person posting they’ve lost their job. 

I feel for all of you. We are all feeling a tightening of our belt. Reach out to me via LinkedIn, or our Private Facebook group and I’ll see what I can do to help. 

Our private Facebook group is a great spot to network, and fund support from your peers. Others like you, facing these times and looking for support and guidance. Search for the Work In Sports podcast on Facebook, answer a few questions and you are in!

Note #3: In the same spirit, we have created an abridged version of our Work In Sports Academy courses -- we call it Academy Essentials. It is now FREE for all users to access, so if you are looking to increase your knowledge, learn some strategies and tactics that will help when it comes to getting hired in the sports industry, Academy Essentials is a great start and again, completely free.

Alright, today’s fan question comes from Wyatt in Colorado -- 

“Hey Brian, I’m a junior in college, pretty early in my sports career and I’m trying to figure out my fit for the industry. I notice on your site that your tagline says “make your passion your career” I like that saying… I know my passion in sports...but what part of sports should I make my career in, that’s where I struggle. Any ideas that can help me.

Also, I have to say your site actually has a lot of jobs right now, and I didn’t expect that, thanks for your continued hard work during these times.”

Wyatt -- thanks for the kind words and good questions. 

I think the final side note is kind of funny -- “your site actually has a lot of jobs right now” that word actually always cracks me up, it’s like the ultimate backhanded compliment.

You actually look nice today. Wow, that paper you wrote is actually pretty good! 

Your site is actually pretty good at this! 

I appreciate the positive response Wyatt, we are working really hard as a team right now, and always, to find all the potential opportunities out there. We know many of you are hurting, and finding your next opportunity can be a way to bring light to the end of this tunnel.

As I mentioned last week on our special Friday edition, in normal times we add about 75 new sports jobs a day, which is a LOT of opportunities, and that number HAS slowed down, but it hasn’t stopped. We added 183 fresh sports jobs last week...and trust me, there is going to be a huge boom once quarantine lets up. 

There are opportunities now, and there will be more soon. Our site, is absolutely your best place to get the latest on opportunities. 

So let’s get into your question about passion, and then refine things further. 

This comes with the caveat of, I can’t answer this question for you, you have to discover it. 

Has anyone seen the movie Inside Out? It’s a Pixar movie, really really really well done. I have young kids, so I see all of these types of movies. 

Trust me, I have a point in here, just stick with me. 

The movie is, on a macro level, about your emotions and how your experiences to help frame them.   

One of the concepts they use to explain this concept to younger minds is that all of your experiences are marbles,  and then you have a small group of “core memories” that are the most instrumental building blocks of your personality. 

So apply this to your own life… there are definitely events and times that stick out clearer to you than others for some reason or another. Why do you remember one event from your childhood more clearly than others?

Well, I’m no psychologist, but I tend to think these moments that stick out have a reason for sticking out. There is something in there, a lesson, a theme, a process -- it could be good and inspiring, but it could be a terrible memory, ...either way, there is a reason it sticks. 

All of this is a long way of getting to one of my memories that always sticks out to me. And trust me, you should do this today… analyze a memory you have and try to understand why. It actually can help unlock a lot of your belief systems.

So… this memory I have that is extremely vivid and goes right to the heart of Wyatt’s question. 

I was in 4th grade, sitting eating lunch with my buddies. The lunch lady came out, came to our table and started showing us very excitedly a marketing pamphlet she had -- it was of curly fries. 

She was exuberant. She was glowing. She was so excited to tell us about how she was going to order curly fries for the school and serve them up and it was going to be so fun and exciting. 

At the time, as a petulant 4th grader, I likely thought -- what a dork. She’s all excited about curly fries. 

But as I look back at this now, and for why this stuck in my is because of her passion at that moment. 

Passion is different for everyone. I love, love, love growing organic vegetables in our own garden with our kids. My wife, can’t stand the idea. Don’t get my wrong she loves the byproduct...but the process, no frickin way. 

This lunch lady and I’m telling you I can perfectly visualize her and this moment right now was passionate about her job. She loved serving the kids, she loved figuring out ways to make it more exciting, she had a smile on her face all the time. 

I have thought of this moment hundreds of times over my life - and I’m telling you the reason this stuck for me, was because somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I was being reminded to find something that makes me as happy and fulfilled as my lunch lady when I was in 4th grade. 

Wyatt may be saying to himself... a nice story, but how does that help me figure out my passion?

That is fair -- none of this helps you figure out WHAT you are passionate about -- but it does help you understand how important passion is. If you have identified sports is your passion, you are already really far down the road of identifying your career - so congrats.

So let’s get tactical rather than whimsical, shall we?

1: Experience is how you refine. 

You have a broad idea of what you want... Sports. The only way to learn your exact passion is to experience the various options. Now, that does not mean you have to do internships in every possible discipline, quite the opposite.

You need to be very very serious about your course selection when in college. Read through every single option, make sure you are exploring a different area that you think may interest you. 

I didn’t take any finance classes because math has never been my passion, I took TV production classes because I’ve always liked the visual mediums. 

The classes you choose in college need to be a mix of: 

  • what do I think I need to know and 
  • what do I want to try?

Need to know -- I’d say you need to take some business courses - economics, finance, sales. You should know how these things work, because they will heighten your career ceiling.

Want to try? Take a PR class, take an event marketing class, take an operations class -- you decide! 

I took a PR class, thinking that might be my deal… I hated it. I didn’t like the spin, I didn’t like the formality to the writing, it wasn’t for me… so check that off the list and move on (after getting an A of course) 

I found what I liked most, by trying a myriad of classes, and then once I narrowed it down to a few ideas, I did internships to find out which really fit me. 

I had an internship that I thought I would love - it was early in my career when I was considering hotel and restaurant management…and it was at a hotel, but I hated it. Not just the job I was given, I mean a lot of internships suck, but even observing the people above me, and their day-to-day, it looked awful. I saw that future and was like -- “hell no”

I changed my vision a  LOT early on. That is OK!! That’s how you refine yourself!

Even in my career, I’ve pivoted multiple times. If you are hearing this and you are like -- um, not in college, can’t take classes, that’s fine too. You can still keep learning and trying things, there are online courses out there for everything!

I’ve taught myself multiple skills to better do my job, and each time it increases my passion.

This podcast is a perfect example -- this is 100% my passion, I love it, I think about it all the time, I come up with ideas when I am walking the dog, or playing with the kids. I love getting to know all of you and speaking directly with many of you. 

I love making that difference -- I am the lunch lady. 

That’s what I hope for all of you, to find those things that make you feel passionate. You want to feel things, especially on the job!

Wyatt - I can’t tell you what your passion is, but I can tell you the best way to find that out, is to pay attention to your emotions as you go through experiences. 

When you feel something that excites you, lean into it. I remember the first time I learned non-linear video editing and that feeling I had, I remember when I first got all the equipment for the podcast and how excited I was, these are moments you have to pay attention to, and then make a part of your everyday.

That’s how you find your passion.

Alright -- I hope that helps. 

Keep asking questions -- I want to help in any way I can.

Coming up Wednesday -- Dan Kaufmann Director of Corporate partnerships for the New York Jets -- again, conducted before coronavirus, so no mention of the corona, just a good old fashioned insightful interview with one of my new favorite people in the industry -- dan is awesome. 

Talk soon everyone - stay safe, stay home and listen to podcasts.

By Brian Clapp | April 06, 2020
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