Job Recovery in the Sports Industry - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for and this is the Work in Sports podcast. 

After a few decades of living in cities, I now live out in the country a bit. I have 4 acres of land, the grass is green, I have woods and a stream for my kids to play in. It can be a bubble. We can tune out the world - the hate, the racism, the unrest, the divisiveness - should we choose. 

But we can’t. I can’t. We all play a role, and we can’t just opt-out. Silence is being complicit. 

I know you didn’t come here for this discussion, there are other reasons you are here. But I want all of the people in our audience, our return listeners, our subscribers, who have gotten to know me over time - to know that I support and love them.

I have cried over and over again watching the videos that have become all too common in our society. It isn’t just George Floyd or Eric Garner or Philado Castile, it’s the multitude of other horrific examples of police brutality against Black Americans that have happened without cameras rolling. 

There are systemic issues that allow for heavily armed white men to enter a state building in Michigan, protesting the fact they have to wear a mask while carrying automatic weapons - and being treated civilly and with calm respect, while an unarmed, handcuffed black man gets murdered on the street over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill. 

How does this happen?    

This is a problem. We can’t ignore it, and as a middle-aged white man I can’t sit here in my bubble pretending this environment is fair and just. It is not. 

I have many friends who are honorable, respectful, caring police officers, who got into police work to make a positive difference. We can’t make sweeping generalizations against all police, that does not help. That is the exact same problem that got us here -- racial profiling is generalizing a group of people… doing the same to all police isn’t the proper response. 

But we can be angry. We should be angry. 

And the best thing we can, from this perspective, is to listen, love, and vote. 

That’s how we change things. Vote. I hope everyone out there with anger and disgust and fear and dismay -- will take this energy to the polls in November. 

Everyone needs to vote. That is your power. And everyone needs to love and listen.

JusticeForGeorge hell yes justiceforgeorge … but in concert with that -- let’s change the system to be more equitable and fair. 

It’s past the time for those of us on the outside to just empathize - we need to understand, we need to help the change become reality. 

One last thing -- as someone who has worked in the media for a long time, you will see the worst worst worst images, because they get eyeballs. I guarantee you 90% of the protests across the country are peaceful, but all you’ll see is burning buildings OR on the flip side people hugging police officers. 

Those are the edges of the story -- look for the middle. 

There is no easy transition here so I’ll just make it. 

Coming up on Wednesday is a conversation I am very excited about, I interviewed Josh Walker president of sports innovation lab, a market research company, about how we recover as a sports industry from our global pandemic -- oh right, amongst all of this chaos we are also still in a global pandemic. 

Yeah for 2020!

Anyway, the interview with Josh is so insightful -- he and his team at sports innovation lab are changing the way we see, feel and experience sports. And teams are catching on to this new way of understanding fan needs. You are going to be way into this conversation, I know I was.

As for today’s topic -- here is James from Nevada

“He Brian, when coronavirus first became a thing you talked about revenue-generating roles being super important in the near future -- is that still the case? Is that what you see being the leader in the sports industry over the short-term, or the longer this goes have things changed in your mind?”

I’m glad you brought this up James because we have to continually evolve in this conversation about corona -- we are in completely new territory and we need to be agile in our analysis. 

So, way back in March, the 13th I believe,  my kids were sent home from school and the school said “we’re out until March 30th” ...two weeks to get things back to normal.

The NBA season was suspended, then the Masters, MLS, NHL, MLB, and more and more and more -- no need to rehash. 

But it looked at the time like it could be short… we’d have fans back in the sats by summer or fall… we didn’t know much. 

At that time it was clear if you were in sales or any revenue-generating role - you would be in demand...very soon.   

The thinking was, even if seasons are suspended, we’ll start to see plans in place to return, and salespeople can start driving revenue for a fall return to action - and they’ll be in high demand, due to revenue loss and a desire to make up the loss.

This logic is sound, but the situation was and is unpredictable. We may return come fall….or even come summer, as the EPL, Bundesliga, and other leagues have started to announce. 

But without fans. 

No fans mean no ticket sales, no premium sales, no new sponsorship deals, no need for ticket promotions, or many marketing activations. No game day security… no concessions. 

There is a lot we will be missing.

So, how do we adjust? 

First off these jobs will come back. They aren’t going away. They are just dramatically impacted in the short term, meaning another 12-18 months. But if you are in sales, you can’t just sit around waiting! You need to be out there making it rain, ammiright?

Ok, so let’s talk about what is out there, and how everyone can start to adjust. 

#1 - if you are in sales, you love sales, you want this to be your career -- you need to pivot, but not far,. Look for companies in sports that are product or media-driven. 

Apparel companies, online companies, media companies. 

So for example, when I look at our site, I see major media companies connected to sports that are looking for ad salespeople, I see digital properties looking for digital salespeople, I see esports companies looking for digital salespeople. 

On the product side, I see apparel companies or sports drink brands. 

There are companies hiring for sales -- just not quite as many ticket sales jobs as usual. They are out there, just not as many. 

Be ready pivot, and look at this as an opportunity to add to your sales repertoire. If you have experience selling tickets, and then add experience selling products or media -- you will be unstoppable. And your career will have new potential heights. 

Just to be clear, of the 10,550 sports jobs on right now -- 5,214 have the word sales in the description. So sales jobs are still in demand!

#2 - revenue optimization roles -- Business analysts. I just finished interviewing sean halbmaier director of advanced advertising for the PGA Tour, and his role is, I’m simplifying this a lot, but his role is to maximize the reach and expense of their advertising efforts. Making sure they get the most bang for their buck.

As Mailyn Vu, my talent Acquisition all-star with the Cleveland Indians, and the most popular podcast guest of all time said, any role that can help us generate more revenue, or spend our revenue more effectively is in demand. 

That was pre-COVID -- think of that now!

If you have a hankering for data and analytics consider a pivot from player analytics,  into business analytics. Revenue operations roles are in demand!

Again, on WorkinSports there are over 1,000 jobs in our Tech/Data category and they are from some of the biggest employers in sports -- highly recognizable companies and teams. 

Tech and data will lead the way. 

#3: Creative jobs are on the rise -- roles in social media, communications, and media content are growing at this time and will continue to.

Two major revenue streams in sports for teams -- tickets sales and sponsorships and media deals. 

Ticket sales on hold. Teams still have long term media deals so the money is coming in that way. 

On the other side of that equation - big media brands are paying out their deal to the teams, but don’t have the games to broadcast. Sure there is some nuance here and insurance etc -- but in general terms, media providers need content, they need creative ideas production, social media buzz, eyeballs on them. 

These jobs are in demand and will continue to be. Content is king. It’s like that saying in a blind world the one-eyed man is king -- well, in a world without sports action the creative content creator is king.

Whoa that's a tough one to say,.

Of course, there are other roles that will be in demand and others that will struggle to develop for a while. 

You need to analyze where you are right now, what the industry needs for the role is, and where you want to be in the future. Is there a way to pivot yourself for the short term, stay employed, gain a new skill, and be ready to best once the time comes?

I think there is. 

Thanks for listening everyone -- #justiceforgeorge and #EqualityforEveryone

Tune in for my interview with Josh Walker from Sports Innovation Lab on Wednesday, and please remember to subscribe to the show, share with friends and post a review wherever you listen.

By Brian Clapp | June 01, 2020
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