It’s very common for people to fantasize about a future in professional sports. While not everyone can be an Olympian or professional athlete, a love for (or even an interest in) professional sports can lead to a career with some diligence, education, and a pragmatic approach. Unfortunately, too many myths pervade professional sports careers and make people think that if they’re not paragons of athleticism, they can’t get a career in professional sports. These myths might keep very qualified people from pursuing careers in sport.
1. Athletes And Coaches Are The Most Common Jobs
Since professional athletes and their coaches get a lot of airtime, it follows naturally that people would think that these are the most common professions in sports. But think about all the people hard at work during an average NFL game: there are analysts, camera crew members, medical and physical therapy staff, public relations specialists, personal trainers, and stadium employees. When games aren’t currently in play, there are plenty of people working as strategists, odds-makers, lawyers, reporters, film editors, merchandisers, and any number of people working to make sure the fans get what they need.
2. You Have To Be a Sports Genius to Survive In This Field
Sure, if you’re going to be a professional basketball analyst, you should know about basketball. But one of the pervading common myths surrounding the professional sports industry is that you have to be an expert about the sport before you can work in it. On the contrary, there are a number of jobs that don’t require you to know very much about the sport you want to work in, such as: merchandising, public relations, compliance, and sales.
3. You Hang Out With Pro Athletes All Day, Every Day
It’s probably true that if you’re a coach, trainer, or member of medical staff, you’ll be spending a great deal of time with professional athletes. But if you’re the accountant for a team or its director of procurement, you may never get to meet the star quarterback (although you probably get discounts on team tickets). You may never get into the star players’ holiday parties, but you can still work in the profession. And you never know; you may end up rubbing elbows with the top talent after all.
4. It’s a 9-to-5 Job
There are some who think that working in sports is an all-or-nothing endeavor–that it’s a dull 9-to-5 cubicle-dwelling profession, or that it’s all unpredictable hours, extreme working conditions, and dedication of the most productive years of your life. The truth is, most jobs fall somewhere in between the two extremes, but the vast majority of them don’t follow a traditional Monday-Friday schedule. You may have to work 40 hours or 60; it just depends on what you choose to pursue. Whether you prefer a stable or unpredictable schedule, there are positions available for both.
5. If You Can Get In, You’ll Get Rich
Much like show business, sports is one of those professions where the myth is that while it’s hard to break in the business, if you can, you’re guaranteed a seven-figure salary. The truth is, there are just as many positions that are only as hard to get as their minimum requirements, and not all positions pay the big bucks. In many ways, professional sports are like any other business. You have to get the education and build the skills, but once you do, your salary is commensurate with both. Agents, for example, seem to have the lofty reputation of earning the big bucks, while in reality, they have to work hard for every dime, just the same as the aspiring athletes they represent.
Professional sports, whether you’re looking at the NFL or the Olympics, is an ultimately rewarding endeavor. You don’t have to be a super athlete or even an expert to work in the field of professional sports; you just need to have the drive, desire, and knowledge for your particular chosen field. You can be an accountant, lawyer, or PR agent and still work in sports, or you could be more hands-on. Speaking with your school’s career counselor will give you a better idea of what you need to do.