The sports industry is possibly one of the most competitive industries in the workforce. Despite having several paths of entry (such as sports journalism, sports medicine, sports marketing, sales and so on,), it is not always easy to get into the industry.
In a past article in Forbes, (former) contributor Jason Belzer included an interesting quote from Carolyne Savini, former managing director of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment. Savini talked about how difficult it can be to get into the sports industry (without experience through things like internships).
“For anyone trying to break into the sports industry at the entry level, internship experience is critical. Short of an inside connection, I rarely, if ever, see someone get hired into a job without previous internship experience. The reason is the sports industry is a small, tight-knit community.” Savini said.
The sports industry is difficult to get into, and with the pandemic, it has gotten even tougher.
At the height of the pandemic (back in 2020), even sports giant ESPN felt the impact. This was around the time that they laid off 300 workers and left another 200 positions unfilled. And before they did this, they asked some of their highest paid employees to take a paycut to avoid furloughs and layoffs for the time being. But in the end, the layoffs were unavoidable.
Fast forward a bit and the impact was still felt. The cancellation of events caused a big blow to the sports industry (such as major sports leagues), and according to the Sports Innovation Institute of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, jobs postings dwindled. The industry was especially impacted in the second quarter of 2020. However, there were slight increases in following quarters (but not pre-pandemic increases). Positions such as sales and marketing decreased 10 percent and two percent, respectively, but innovative methods such as using Zoom at least kept some of these positions afloat.
The pandemic impacted everyone, but for those in the sports industry (whether just getting in, something with a few years of experience or a freelancer) it made a huge impact.
Byron Reed, a peer that is a content creator and freelance sports journalist, spoke on his journey of starting in the industry (specifically from the pandemic to the present) and where it has taken him so far.
“The journey has been filled with ups and downs (like anything else). It can get challenging and even a little lonely, but if you make friends with people who you look up to or people who have experience, they can help you in so many ways.”
Reed also mentioned how getting a compliment from a fellow content creator “made his day” while he was trying new things. And he mentioned the importance of continuing to learn and grow.
“I’m always learning and growing, so it gives me a sense of pride regardless.” Reed said.
Speaking to others, their stories were similar.
“The pandemic was and is tough. It was hard to find opportunities, and thankfully, I found a remote opportunity through a sports podcast. And it’s been great.” An unnamed intern for sports podcast, Upon Further Review said.
The sports industry has its share of challenges, but luckily, there are a few opportunities, where those searching for jobs in the sports industry can utilize to hone their skills. And those have helped potential candidates navigate an already competitive industry.
Sports Business Classroom is a training program for those looking to get into the sports industry (specifically basketball). They hold events that provide potential candidates a hands-on experience in learning about the NBA. They do virtual events such as the Virtual GM and Draft Academies as well as the Business of Basketball Program at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League. This event returned this summer after being put on hold due to the pandemic. Regardless of what a person is looking for (media, scouting or operations), students can hear insight from some of the league’s greatest minds, including coaches, general managers and more. So, it can be beneficial for those looking to get in the industry. And peers have gone on to get jobs with places such as the G-League, the NBA itself and its teams. SBC and other opportunities such as Sports Management Worldwide, (job search sites like) WorkInSports and TeamWorkOnline can help people get the tools and experience they need. And it does not end there.
Recently, Sports Business Classroom made a big announcement. They announced that they partnered with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). The goal is “to provide educational resources for NBPA agent applicants to utilize to prepare for the upcoming Agent Exam”.
The NBPA is an organization that represents NBA players. They take care of matters such as establishing the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is a contract between the NBA and the NBPA. The CBA (between both organizations) helps set up the rules regarding players’ contracts, trades, the salary cap and so on. The NBPA also provides opportunities for those who are interested in becoming a sports agent. The organization is “responsible for certifying and regulating player agents.” They allow people to become agents by allowing them to take the NBPA Agent Certification exam. If an individual passes the exam, they can begin their journey of representing NBA players. The current exam period opened on Aug. 1 and ends on Oct. 31. The partnership between Sports Business Classroom and the NBPA benefits those looking to get into the sports industry, and is yet another example of the efforts going towards those searching for employment.
The sports industry is huge. According to a report from Research and Markets, the global sports market (including organizations such as Manchester City F. C and the New York Yankees) is expected to grow substantially. In fact, it could reach $707.84 billion in 2026. Even with new obstacles, such as the current inflation, the industry has the chance to grow (and become more lucrative).
Len Komoroski, who is the former CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers, spoke with Sports Business Journal, and mentioned the ongoing inflation.
“When we went into the pandemic, we thought it’d be over in a few months,” Komoroski said. “And then when it wasn’t over in a few months, it just kept going. That had so much uncertainty, because it was unprecedented in terms of the type of impact in our world. So hopefully it bodes for us managing through this in a fashion that keeps our industry strong.”
Despite the obstacles, the sports industry will keep on prevailing. And with the right resources and guidance, like that provided from Sports Business Classroom, a job within the sports industry is within reach.