I wasn't a sports management major in college. My alma mater didn't offer it when I was there. There wasn't a sports leadership major, sports marketing, sports administration or anything else of that ilk. In some areas, your schooling directly relates to your profession, like it does for doctors, lawyers and engineers. Good thing the sports business isn't one of them. I was a Speech Communication major with a focus in PR and I was still able to snag a job in sports out of college. Here are a few things I picked up in college as a non sports marketing/admin/management major that I put to use in my career.
- How to write well. Not that they don't teach you this in the sports management department (or all other departments, I hope). But I'd rather work with someone who writes well but doesn't know the intricacies of player contracts or stadium operations than the opposite. Thankfully, I had my writing style critiqued and cultivated for four years by some smart professors and classmates.
- You're always selling something. Whether you're trying to get someone to buy season tickets, secure a big brand for arena naming rights, pitching a story about your team to a big news outlet or trying to land a job for yourself, you are always selling something. I realized this when I'd ask for an extra credit opportunity or convince a colleague to switch shifts with me at the pool.
- Stories sell. You need a hook. Tell a story that the client/reporter/player can relate to and sticks with them and you're off to the right start. Facts are important, so don't forget those, but stories that hit the heart make a big difference.
- Relationships matter. Stories/content are king (see above), but making a pitch to a person you have good rapport with is always better than a cold call. Find something in common with a prospect, reporter or client and start from there. People like dealing with people they like, sometimes that's the difference between a sale, a story, an upgrade and a "no thanks."
- Never stop learning. I like to read. Reading is great because it engages your creative side more than watching TV or listening to a song. The internet, podcasts and trade publications are other fantastic resources to help further your education. Read a book, thumb through the Sports Business Journal or take a class at the local college or online. Coursera and edX have hundreds of classes that will educate and entertain you - even ones of a sports management variety!