Navigating the Sports Industry

Wednesday 15th February 2023

The sports industry has a reputation for being highly competitive, 'closed-off,' and difficult to break into. Here are three of the most valuable tips that helped me gain relevant sports experience and, most recently, land a full-time position as a Commercial and Brand Strategy Executive at Oak View Group.

(1) Your Network Is Your Net Worth

I’m sure you’ve heard these two expressions repeatedly: ‘your network is your net worth’ and ‘it is not what you know, but who you know’. I’ve found that this could not be more true for the sports industry, especially as the competition for jobs grows by the day.

There are numerous benefits to networking, including the ability to learn from others who have been in your position or are in the position you aspire to reach one day, as well as the ability to find new career opportunities. According to The Diversity Dashboard, 80% of jobs are filled through networking, implying that there are hundreds of jobs that are not advertised publicly.

When it comes to growing my network, here are three tricks I’ve found helpful:

A. Using templates

Having several templates to use makes it easier to send that initial message to a new network. You can then tweak it as needed based on who you're reaching out to. This person could be someone you met at a conference, a recruiter, or someone you would like career advice from.

B. Figure out your main reason for wanting to connect beforehand

You want your message to convey precisely what you want from the get-go. Be clear with your intentions and purpose for reaching out and what you’d like to achieve from it. For example, learning more about the individual's job role, finding out about specific job openings, or getting career advice.

C. LinkedIn is your best friend

LinkedIn is an effective and simple way to search for, find and connect with other industry professionals, and the most suitable platform for staying in touch with all the connections you've made. You can also join LinkedIn groups with people who share your interests to expand your network further.

(2) Gaining work experience (early on) goes a long way

Anyone interested in working in sports should gain as much work experience as possible. The most common ways are through internships, volunteering, job shadowing, university placements, and graduate schemes. The first advantage is that it gives you a competitive edge when applying for full-time jobs. Many hiring managers may not be too concerned with whether you have a sports-related degree from university. However, it is your experience in the industry, the type of experience you've gained, and the skills you've developed that will set you apart from other applicants. Volunteering at a local sporting event, for example, will give you valuable insight into what typically goes on behind the scenes of a large-scale sporting event. Secondly, experience can help you understand what specific job roles entail and determine whether it is a good fit and something you enjoy. You won't be able to figure this out unless you have experience doing the actual work. Doing various roles, from athlete marketing to event operations, allowed me to figure out what I liked and did not like, ultimately leading me to my current full-time role. Sometimes, the most effective method to figuring out what you enjoy doing is simply trial and error.

(3) Knowledge is power; keep learning.

The sports landscape is constantly changing; simply comparing the present to how it was 10 or 20 years ago reveals numerous differences. Most recently, we have seen the emergence of the metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the ascendency of over-the-top streaming services, and changes to the NCAA’s name, image and likeness (NIL) policy. As a result, for anyone trying to navigate the industry, it is important that you have your finger on the pulse and stay current with what is going on, especially if you are looking to differentiate yourself further. There are several ways to accomplish this; my personal favourites include:


Mentorship Programmes

Professional Membership Groups


Publications/ Newsletters

Bonus Tip: Don't compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20; they were most likely in your position a few years ago.

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