Behind the scenes: the business of managing sports teams

Sports capture the hearts of millions around the world, but beyond the roaring crowds and adrenaline-pumping action lies an intricate web of management, business strategy, and marketing. For those who dream of a career sports industry but prefer the boardroom to the locker room, a behind-the-scenes role in sports management may be the perfect fit.

Sports management is the business of sports, encompassing everything from team management and event logistics to media relations and marketing campaigns. It’s a field where business acumen meets passion for athletics, and where managers play a crucial role in the success of sports teams and organizations.

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If you’re intrigued by the prospect of orchestrating the next big sporting event, steering the business strategy of a professional sports franchise, or guiding the career of an up-and-coming athlete, let’s delve into the bustling world of sports management.

The role of sports managers

In the realm of sports, managers are pivotal players, ensuring that everything runs smoothly off the field so that athletes can excel on it. They juggle a variety of tasks, from securing sponsorships and promoting events to managing finances and enforcing compliance with athletic regulations.

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Sports managers are often the unsung heroes who work diligently to create a seamless experience for fans and a conducive environment for athletes. Their responsibilities may vary widely depending on whether they work with college teams, professional sports franchises, or within sports marketing agencies.

A day in the life of a sports manager could involve negotiating contracts, planning training schedules, coordinating travel arrangements, or developing marketing campaigns. They need to be adaptable, proficient in problem-solving, and capable of making quick decisions in high-pressure situations. Collaboration is also key, as sports managers frequently work alongside coaches, athletes, and other stakeholders to achieve common goals.

Education and career pathways

For those of you considering a career in sports management, education is a vital stepping stone. A bachelor degree in sports management provides a foundation in topics such as business, marketing, ethics, and law, all tailored to the sports industry.

Programs like LSU Online offer comprehensive sports management degrees that prepare students for the multifaceted nature of the field. The curriculum often includes case studies, internships, and networking opportunities that are invaluable for students looking to break into the industry.

Upon completing a degree, graduates can pursue various roles. Some may become athletic directors at educational institutions, shaping the future of collegiate sports. Others might join sports marketing firms, crafting campaigns that elevate brands and engage fans. There are also opportunities in event management, media relations, and facilities management.

With the sports industry continuously evolving, new career paths are emerging, especially with the rise of digital platforms and social media. Sports marketers are now tasked with harnessing the power of online communities to boost fan engagement and drive revenue.

The impact of marketing in sports

Sports marketing is a dynamic and influential facet of the sports business. It’s not just about selling tickets; it’s about building a brand, crafting a fan experience, and creating partnerships that resonate with the audience.

In this digital age, sports marketers are leveraging social media to tell stories and connect with fans on a more personal level. Successful campaigns often combine traditional advertising with digital content that is shareable and engaging. The aim is to create a dialogue with fans, turning them into brand ambassadors who will spread the word far and wide.

The role of sports marketers also extends to sponsorship and endorsements. They must identify and secure partnerships that align with the team’s values and resonate with their fan base. It’s a delicate balance between financial benefit and maintaining the integrity of the sport and its athletes.

Event management and logistics

Behind every memorable sports event is a team of professionals working diligently to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. This is where sports event management comes into play. It’s a discipline that requires meticulous planning, from securing venues to coordinating vendors and ensuring safety regulations are met.

Event managers are tasked with creating an atmosphere that enhances the spectator experience while also satisfying the needs of athletes, sponsors, and broadcasters. With the advent of new technologies, they must also integrate digital solutions that improve the event for those in attendance and fans following along online.

They work hand-in-hand with sports marketers to build hype leading up to the event and maintain engagement even after the final whistle blows. The goal is to create events that won’t just be successful on the day but will leave a lasting impact and drive continued interest in the sport.

Leading the team to success

Being at the helm of a sports team as a manager or athletic director involves much more than just overseeing athletes and coaches. It also means dealing with financial budgets, public relations, and staff management. Athletic directors, in particular, play a key role in shaping the sports programs of their institutions, often overseeing multiple teams.

They must have a vision for the program’s growth, and this often involves complex decision-making about hiring practices, facility improvements, and long-term strategic planning. Athletic directors must balance the aspirations of their teams with the financial realities and regulatory constraints of the sports industry.

Their leadership can profoundly affect the culture of the entire athletic department, influencing not just the performance of the teams but also the experience of the student-athletes. The most successful sports managers and athletic directors are those who can inspire their teams, manage the business effectively, and navigate the challenges of an ever-changing industry.


The business of managing sports teams is a multifaceted and exciting field that requires a blend of business savvy, marketing expertise, and a deep understanding of the sports industry. It’s a career path filled with opportunities to make an impact behind the scenes, driving the success of sports teams and events.

Whether it’s through strategic marketing campaigns, orchestrating grand events, or leading athletic programs, sports managers and directors are the masterminds ensuring that the show goes on, both on and off the field. For those of you with a passion for sports and a head for business, the sports management degree is your ticket to an exhilarating career in this dynamic industry.

Remember, success in managing sports teams isn’t just measured by wins and losses; it’s about the experience created for fans, the opportunities provided to athletes, and the legacy left by the sports programs. As the business of sports continues to grow, so too does the demand for skilled professionals capable of managing the complexities of sports teams and events. Will you be one of them?

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