Will A Liberal Arts Degree Help My Sports Career?
You’re talking to a friend and it suddenly occurs to you, “Dude, I want a job in sports.” How likely is your friend to raise his eyebrows, look you over with an appraising eye, and wish you good luck?
Chances are, when he heard the phrase “job in sports,” his first instinct was to change that to: “Play on the field, with all the other guys.” (Guys in this case means both men and women, for the record.)
But your friend is mistaken.
There are hundreds of sports-centered jobs out there that have nothing to do with the turf or the court, and that number vastly outnumbers the collective number of players on a single team. Including football, backups and everything.
You might be familiar with the article I wrote a few months ago spotlighting my fellow English Majors and how they can make a career in the sports world-- but now, I want to extend that advice to the rest of my Liberal Arts passionates.
Fine Arts Degrees
Whether your major was art, painting, music, or psychology, there are a multitude of opportunities for you in sports. Particularly since you’re also an avid sports fan.
Liberal arts degrees equip students with the “soft skills” that employers seek -- they want people who are comfortable with subjectivity, have strong interpersonal skills, and are used to accepting a diverse range of perspectives.
Four years of workshops and critiques all but guarantees proficiency in those realms.
First and foremost, let’s call out artists -- those of you who, throughout your entire education, likely faced the most egregious “art degree” jokes out there. Those of you who, also, might’ve heard whispers that you became an artist because you weren’t athletic enough for the field.
Just one artist joke. I can’t help myself. What do you call a painter without a girlfriend?
The truth is, the art world is just as prominent and necessary in sports as the players themselves, although perhaps in ways you might not have expected.
For example, everyone knows about sports photo, graphic designers and videographers-- they’re artists, too, although their works might not fall under the category of “fine art.” Depends on who you ask, really.
The industry is constantly on the lookout for more photographers and journalists, particularly those who use emerging trends like videography to put a marketing spin into their work. As the various forms of media become more and more accessible to the general public, and further incorporated into popular culture, you can expect sport-media companies to seek out photo and videographers who are well-trained in the field.
The best way to polish your sports photography skills and build up your resume/portfolio are, of course, by taking part in local sporting events, whether they are at the collegiate or high school levels.
Grab your camera, your tripod, and maybe a winter coat if the stadium is outdoors, and begin snapping shots. While they may not be as glamorous as those on the cover of ESPN, the experience will help you learn first-hand what it takes to get the perfect shot. (The same goes for anyone looking to be a sports journalist, by the way-- write about your local teams, submit them to newspapers, magazines, anything to get your name out there.)
If your degree didn’t emphasize the digital arts, however, there are certainly other options based in more traditional foundations. After all, who do you think designs and sculpts all those popular player bobbleheads?
It’s not a business major, I’ll tell you that much.
We’ve shed light on some of the more artistic opportunities, so what about the psych and sociology folks?
Psychology is obviously a huge component of sport. Every time an athlete takes the field, he or she knows that there’s a risk for a sports-related injury. There are muscle pulls and joint sprains on one end of the spectrum, and life-altering TBIs on the other.
Athletes need to have an outlet for dealing with this risks they face on a daily basis.
In addition, therapists are invaluable advocates in the event that an athlete does sustain a brain injury. A training staff’s first recourse for detecting brain damage is to administer neuropsychological testing. But small concussions often don’t show obvious symptoms. That’s why a well-trained support team is so important.
A medical team that’s sensitive to the subtleties of a player’s psychology could quite literally save his or her life.
If you’re not necessarily interested in being a sports therapist or trainer, teaching is another avenue to explore.
Whether it be grade school or high school, P.E. teachers are necessary in laying the foundation for a child’s future, in terms of health and activity, and possibly even in nurturing a future career in professional sports.
On top of all of that, proper physical education helps kids to battle stress, depression, anxiety, and a mountain of other pervasive issues that might get in the way of their other studies. We all know that exercise can help ward off these issues even into adulthood, so teaching children at a young age how to fight off these recurring problems is, in a lot of ways, as important as teaching them math or science.
While you are likely to still require a little extra schooling to acquire a teaching certificate (which varies depending on where you live) becoming a teacher with an “unrelated” Bachelor’s Degree under your belt is becoming more and more common in this day and age.
So while most people think you need a degree in sports medicine, physical therapy, or something else in the field of health and sciences to be successful down this path, the truth is, the realm of sports-related careers is never ending.
Whether you’re an artist, a doctor, a chef, a counselor-- the sports world has a niche for you.
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