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Use Your Head for the Game: Behind-the-Scenes Sports Careers

Would you like to work in a sports career? The odds of becoming a professional athlete are pretty slim. But if you love sports, there are still plenty of career possibilities in the sports world, even if you aren't on the all-star team. Sports fans can find a wide range of jobs working behind the scenes of the sports arena.

Sports are fun, but professional sports are also a business. And somebody has to keep that business running. That means lots of opportunities for people who can combine an interest in sports with other -- less physical -- skills.

Making the news

Jason Kay oversees sports reporters as editor of The Hockey News in Toronto. Sports reporters interview athletes, coaches and others involved in the sports world.

Kay says that his job offers writers and editors some perks: "I do get to attend any game I want to attend, sitting in the press box," he says.

But he adds that his job isn't just watching hockey. One of his least-favorite tasks is watching The Hockey News' budget to make sure it stays balanced.

His writers don't have to track the budget, but they do need to know how to write. Kay says he looks for a background in journalism, although it's not necessarily a requirement.

A knowledge of the game is a definite requirement, however. Writers need to know the fundamentals of hockey as well the inner workings of the NHL.

There are reporters who specialize in other sports, too, from archery to wrestling. Some are able to write about a range of different sports. Sometimes, they are responsible for taking their own photographs, too.

There are also journalists who tell stories primarily through photographs. In sports, these photojournalists are known for their ability to capture the action at a game in striking images. While most pay hundreds of dollars for their own equipment, it's worth it when they see their pictures in the pages of Sports Illustrated.

Other communications professionals in sports are media relations and communications officers. Working for an athlete or team, they write press releases, are interviewed by news sources, and write content for their client's website. They may also arrange press conferences and organize meetings.

If you have a way with words, any of these careers could be your ticket to a career in sports.

The numbers game

Who said math and sports weren't related? Sports teams need people to work with their financial statements -- after all, there is a lot of money involved in professional sports!

Michael Aronesty is a senior audit manager for Deloitte and Touche. He works with the NFL and audits their financial statements. For him, working on teams and meeting young people are the best parts of his job.

Auditors are certified public accountants who check financial statements created by a company's management. These statements must be examined by an auditor to ensure they are accurate.

Aronesty says his job can demand a lot of hours (about 60 hours a week on average), but it gives him some freedom as well: "I manage [an accounting] team of five to 20 people," he says, adding the only person he must report to is a partner at the firm.

His advice for up-and-coming number crunchers: "Just be professional and prepare yourself to give it 100 percent."

"Show me the money"

Anyone who saw the movie Jerry Maguire has an idea of what it's like being a sports agent trying to survive with just one client. While it isn't realistic for an agent to make a living with one client, having only a select number of clients does make for better relationships.

"Sports agents are not only into negotiations ... they're also mentors for the client," says Lynn Lashbrook. He is president and founder of Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW), a sports management company that also offers sports job training programs.

Lashbrook started SMWW in hopes of giving everyone a chance to be educated in their dream job. He still works as a sports agent, but his primary goals are educating and training future sports executives.

Agents give advice to athletes, help them find sponsorship, and look for off-season career opportunities and financial investments for their clients. And you don't have to be Tom Cruise to get the job.

"We're giving all types of people the opportunity to get into sports," said Lashbrook. "I believe deep down in my soul that sports should be a contribution to society, not a reflection of society."

With schools like SMWW, students have a chance to study for a short time to see if there's enough action for them in the career.

Other options

If none of the above appeal to you, don't worry: there are plenty of other jobs in the professional sports industry. Think of any big business -- a sports team needs many of the same professionals.

Other behind-the-scenes careers in sports include: event coordinators, ticket operations managers, scouts, athletic trainers, sports announcers, equipment managers, directors of player operations, facility managers, equipment managers and statisticians.


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.