Compared to some of the other specialized management degree programs available through American colleges today, sports management is a relatively young discipline, in terms of being recognized as its own viable specialty. The management and administration of academic and professional sports and athletic franchises represents a growing interest in the United States, as well as in other countries around the world which have a booming professional athletics scene. However, the discipline is not without its detractors: there are those who blame the increasingly unhealthy competitiveness of children's league sports on management strategies brought in courtesy the professional leagues. It's worth asking the question of whether or not a dedicated academic program focusing on this program is worthwhile, given the existence of so many other programs focusing on management strategies and administrative skills.
How Applicable is the Program?
Athletic management and administration focuses on the full suite of traditional administrative skills, including organization, team management, and financial matters. It plays particularly strong emphasis on leadership skills, reflecting the drive that is necessary to compel and support frequent bouts of high-energy performance. In between performance, management needs to work hand-in-hand with marketing, to keep an athlete or a franchise in the public eye. This includes placing an emphasis on charitable works and other wholesome initiatives; on occasion, it also involves PR and damage control, mitigating the effects of an accident or a bad decision. All of these skills have one thing in common: they are highly desirable throughout the business, financial and government sectors, and those who display them are widely seen as having executive potential.
What's the Future Got in Store?
Over the next eight to ten years, forecasts place the growth of the athletic management industry at 8%. This is slightly higher than the average growth rate projected for other industries. It reflects two things: first, it focuses on the growing need for management skills in the field of professional athletics. There are more teams, more franchises and more stars, and a growing number of sports are demanding more representation than what was once needed. E-Sports are growing in popularity, with increasingly large purses available for individuals who win tournaments and other competitions: popular e-athletes are sponsored to the tune of millions of dollars per year. E-Sports franchises require the same management skills as every traditional athletics pursuit.
What's the Compensation Like?
Sports and athletic management professionals earn an above-average compensation package right out of the starting gate, with an average annual income approaching US$96,000. This does not include a typically excellent benefits package, nor does it take into account the satisfaction involved in being able to associate with one's athletic idols on a regular basis. There is a lot of upward mobility involved in athletic management; individual athletes, franchises and leagues all offer relevant positions, with successively higher rewards and professional responsibilities.
So, the short answer is "yes, a degree in sports management is worth pursuing," if you've got what it takes to excel at the program. It offers a great deal of interdisciplinary applicability, in terms of its emphasis on teamwork, leadership strategy and franchise management. The appropriate application of its inclusive techniques comes down to the individual professional's judgment, but this self-evaluation relies upon skills that are expanded and supported through the very training that the degree program provides to its students. With high starting wages, and above-average job growth according to the BLS, this is a worthwhile career path for anyone who wants to be a part of the success of a sports or athletic franchise.