Career Paths in Sports : Exploring a Career in Sports Management

Sports, which were previously only considered hobbies, are now being seen as serious career options in India. Although cricket dominates the sports scene in our country, other games and sports are also slowly catching up in popularity. The objective behind an active career in sports is to excel, on the field or off it.

In India, cricket has been popular among the people in general, but with the growing reach of television and the exceptional performance of the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, other sports are being seen in a new light. During the course of his/her career, a sportsperson undoubtedly earns money, fame and glory, but that is not easy to achieve. Stringent levels of physical fitness, hard work, determination and the willingness to make sacrifices are only some of the essential traits required to make a place in the chosen sport.

Career Paths in Sports

Career Paths in Sports:

Some of the character traits required for a person looking to make a career in sports are:

  • Commitment to and passion for the sport
  • Physical fitness of superlative standards and the determination to work for that
  • Perseverance and determination to excel
  • Team spirit
  • Hunger for healthy competition

The important thing to keep in mind for a career as an active player is to start early. Developing an interest in a particular sport from an early age is important. Young bodies and minds can learn and be conditioned to handle the tough training better. It is only after extensive training and putting in hundreds of hours of practice that they can assure a spot for themselves in the competitions. After making a mark in the minor scale or junior level competitions, they can expect to be noticed and chosen or to compete for their selection to the state, national and international level championships.

Careers in sports can be of two types:

  • Direct i.e. active playing or requiring presence at the sports events
  • Indirect i.e. in a sports-related field

In the direct careers are included

  • Active players
  • Physical trainers
  • Coaches
  • Umpires and referees
  • Managers for players and teams

One can easily understand that these people do not only have to be sure of their in-depth knowledge of the sport, but also be nearly as physically active as the players themselves and be always connected with the sport. They have to be present where the players are; during matches and competitions, training sessions, publicity events and award ceremonies. They get their share of bouquets and brickbats for the victory or the loss respectively of the competing teams. For example, coaches direct their players on game strategies which requires a logical and strategic mindset, but it can be highly stressful too. They also get the blame in case of losses and have an uncertain future.

Indirect careers

  • Doctors
  • Physiotherapists
  • Sports psychologists
  • Journalists
  • Statisticians
  • Event planners and media managers etc.

Those opting for sports-related careers also need to enjoy a keen interest in sports besides education, knowledge, experience and the will to push personal comfort aside during the time an event is taking place. All national and international sports competitions require activity for long hours whether it is playing the game, umpiring it, attending to the injured players, covering the event for media, recording the statistics, or taking care of the after-event TV appearance of the players and the social events. Therefore, like the players, the others should also be prepared to stretch their physical and mental capacity to its maximum at such times.

These other professions in the sports industry might not be as glamorous or high profile as active sports, but they keep one connected with the game and can be highly rewarding. They can also be excellent career options for the retired players or those who have not been able to make it to the playing team beyond a point.

Yet all these jobs demand study and understanding of the subject, and come with their own bags of responsibilities.

For example, a sports psychologist helps players and coaches in working through issues to improve their motivation, performance and overall mental health.  The job requires besides a degree in sports psychology, some level of understanding of the demands of the game on the minds of the players. The psychologists are also expected to understand the psycho-social effects of the players’ performance.

Career Paths in Sports

Similarly, one can cover sports events or write columns for a newspaper or a magazine or be a television or radio sportscaster. More often than not, a degree in journalism, broadcasting or communications and an in-depth knowledge of the sport are the pre-requisites for getting the job.

One can also choose to be a trainer or a physiotherapist. These professionals help athletes to maintain high levels of fitness and endure the rigors of the game through exercise and fitness regimes.

Sports medicine is another upcoming field. Qualified specialist doctors treat the injuries of athletes and players and help them to heal and recover so as to be able to take the hard knocks of the active sport after an injury.

Statisticians record the score of each match for posterity. The job requires presence of mind, precision and a penchant for figures.

Media managers are the people who handle the appearances of players and teams on social events and manage their publicity.

Sports have opened up career opportunities for young and even not-so-young and the choice of careers is still growing. No wonder then that every other day we hear of someone who has found something novel to do in connection with his favorite sport and not just decided to sit with a bag of chips and a bottle of cola in front of the television and shout at the players.