Growing up, practically every one of us dreamt of a career in sports. Who amongst us was not enticed by the joy of playing a game we loved while earning the adulation of millions of fans? The sight of the likes of sprinting superstar Usain Bolt, ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky, poker and casino legend Phil Ivey, or tennis icon Serena Williams reaching the peak of physical and mental ability was perhaps the most awe-inspiring experience in the lives of many children. However, very few of us have the genes, the mental fortitude, and the focus to become professional athletes. So does that mean we have zero chance of ever pursuing careers in sports?
Absolutely not! There are plenty of pathways available for those intent on seeking a career in sports. After all, the $614 billion sporting industry is an extremely complex and diversified sector, ranging from professional sports such as the NBA, MLS, and NHL to sports gambling, which includes sports betting, online casino, and computer programming.
Even if you can’t be a pro athlete, you still might have the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best of them with hard work and dedication. So what are your options?
1. Become a coach!
This is perhaps the most obvious option. While past experience certainly helps, you don’t need to be a former athlete to become a coach. A good starting point is to earn a related university degree, such as sports management or sports science. Such degrees can help you to learn about the operational aspects of professional sports or the intricacies of human anatomy. The latter will provide a powerful lifelong foundation in training and exercise programmes for athletes under your care.
The next step involves obtaining a coaching certification or professional qualification accredited by the governing body of the sport you’re interested in. This will typically take a much shorter time compared to a university degree.
Armed with this qualification, you can then look for opportunities at secondary schools, universities, or amateur clubs. This will provide you with the opportunity to apply and develop your coaching skill set. If your performance is exceptional, you will eventually attract the attention of semi-professional or professional organisations, and your development can continue organically there.
In most instances, though, you will need to take the initiative and apply for your next position. You have to be smart about your next step, however. Securing a coaching position in organisations related to popular sports such as soccer, tennis, and basketball is extremely hard. The field is very competitive, as the best and brightest will usually flock to these sports. Owing to the popularity of these stories, turnover is also quite high, since results-oriented organisations are not reluctant about booting underperforming coaches. As such, the lack of job stability is a factor which you need to consider.
So, how do you improve your odds of being hired? You should apply for coaching positions in less popular sports with high growth potential. A great way to find such sports is by looking at the Olympics. Every edition of the Olympics will introduce a few new sports into its roster (and remove a few as well). For instance, for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, five new sports will be introduced to the lineup – skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, karate, and baseball and softball.
Very few countries are usually dominant in new Olympic sports, so competing nations will be rushing to find coaches to train their athletes. Even individuals might seek out private coaching to help improve their chances for national trials. This is a huge opportunity for young coaches to make their mark.
If you are the adventurous sort, you shouldn’t just limit yourself to playing online casino Canada – you should instead consider applying for coaching positions outside Canada. Developing countries highly value sport science and sport management degrees from Canada and the United States. However, make sure you’ve done your homework – prepare an innovative coaching syllabus backed by hard data to improve your odds of success.
Even if your charges fail to make a mark in the trials or Olympics, a successful track record in developing athletes will open many future doors. An experienced coach with a proven and demonstrable record of developing the physical performance, endurance, and condition of athletes is a relatively rare commodity in the sporting world. Such coaches could easily command at least six-figure salaries. Just don’t share your playbook!
2. Careers in sports medicine
Sports medicine offers a varied range of career options, which include, but are not limited to:
- Physical therapy
Did you know that professional soccer players require between 48 and 72 hours to physically recover after every game? Even three days might not be enough, since studies show that biochemical markers such creatine kinase, which the brain produces to help repair muscle damage, might take up to 120 hours to return to baseline level.
Did you also know that Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest soccer players of all time, take 3 a.m. cold water baths and sits inside a Cryotherapy chamber with temperatures of up to minus 200 degrees Celsius (minus 392 degrees Fahrenheit) to help stimulate muscle regeneration?
Physical therapists now play a crucial role in ensuring athletes reach and maintain their physical peak faster and longer. Many professional sporting organisations employ more than a dozen therapists to help the athletes on their roster recover quicker and avoid injuries.
- Sports Nutrition
Sports nutritionists are responsible for ensuring that athletes eat and metabolise the necessary amount of energy and nutrients their body needs. This requires them to first analyse the eating habits, energy expenditure, and nutrient intake of individual athletes. Based on that data, nutritionists then create customised meal plans for each athlete which must be strictly adhered to by chefs and spouses.
Continuous analyses are thereafter performed to ensure athletes remain in peak physical condition. When athletes are injured or experience any physical or emotional issues, nutritionists must be able to quickly adapt their meal plans to take into account the sudden changes in the body.
It is an underrated and rarely talked-about field, but every professional sporting organisation is heavily reliant on sports nutrition. Some athletes even hire their own nutritionist to help improve their game. Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets credited his career-best performance of 23 regular-season goals and 14 playoff goals to Tom Brady’s nutritionist!
- Sports Psychology
Modern athletes can no longer rely on athleticism or physical skills alone to succeed – they need stronger mental resilience and endurance to provide them with a psychological edge over their competitors. This is where sports psychologists come in.
Sports psychologists help athletes overcome anxiety, manage stress, and improve mental relaxation, among many other things. These incremental improvements will cumulatively strengthen the mental stamina of their charges.
In case you’re worried that organisations might scoff at the perceived benefits of sports psychologists, don’t be. The value of psychology in modern sports is now beyond question.
- Sports Physicians
Sports physicians are the head of medicine of sporting organisations. Every aspect involving the health of athletes goes through them. They take an active role in all clinical and surgical procedures. Even when they are not performing surgery, they are involved in selecting the surgeons who will do it. Every department – nutrition, psychology, therapy, etc. – reports to the head physician. Athletes can’t take a single vitamin pill, follow a new conditioning regime, or even play slots without consulting the physician.
A medical degree from a good university, along with clinical and surgical experience, are prerequisites to become a sports physician. You will need to invest about a decade of your time before you can apply to be one, which is fair, since you’ll be tasked with protecting assets worth potentially hundreds of millions (the athletes).
3. Be a sports agent like Jerry Maguire
No, you don’t have to scream “Show me the money” from the top of your lungs when trying to sign players. However, you might have to scream to get players the best deals. This includes salary, contracts, and endorsement deals. You will also be expected to help them with all tax and legal issues. In many cases, agents also help athletes with home and vehicle rentals or purchases, as well as hiring (public relation advisors, security, drivers, housekeepers, etc.). They become the person athletes and their families rely and lean on.
When Lebron James waded disastrously into the Hong Kong and China issue in October 2019, the person who will eventually take the blame will be his agent for failing to prevent him from speaking out. Keep in mind, the repercussions of James’ words won’t just be limited to China’s regulation on online casino – it could impact the NBA’s market access to China.
That said, being a sports agent is an exciting and financially rewarding career, even if it’s a little difficult to break into. Your clearest path to becoming an agent is by getting a degree in law, accounting, or business, and applying for a position in an existing sports agency or sports marketing company.
4. Facilities management and event coordination
Events such as the Super Bowl, Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, and Wimbledon are highly complex sporting events. They might cost billions to organise, employ thousands of people, and create massive strain on existing transportation infrastructure. Athletes, coaches, agents and even team doctors are simply not capable of organising such events. Heck, they won’t even be able to manage a single MLB game.
The person required to manage such an event requires a combination of skills which include facilities management, event coordination, business analysis, public relations, finance, and much more. It’s not like playing online slots, where you can just click a button and hope for the best. The person entrusted to manage these kinds of events must also liaise with local authorities, sponsors, and local communities.
It’s an incredibly challenging task which requires the management skills of an experienced professional. You can be such a professional too. Arm yourself with a relevant degree, and seek employment with a sporting venue as a ticketing executive, membership coordinator, or other similar entry-level positions. This is your pathway to becoming the Chief Executive Officer of a global soccer club like Liverpool (like Peter Moore) or the chairman of an Olympic organising committee (like Mitt Romney for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002). There are no shortcuts.
5. Sports journalism
You’ve spent years watching Tiger Woods dominate golf at the turn of the century. You watched Michael Schumacher win a record seven World Championship titles. You’re a repository of knowledge, a fountain of statistics, and a master of little known facts about sports. Will you just end up as the guy who spouts sports trivia and talk about the best safe online casino during birthday parties? Or will you try to leverage your encyclopedic knowledge and obsession by becoming a sports journalist?
It’s really not that hard, you know. First, get a degree in English, English Literature, or Journalism. This will ensure that you have a solid foundation to pursue a career as a journalist. There’s nothing an editor hates more than writers who make elementary grammatical and syntactical errors. Once you’ve become a good writer, then start writing articles after every game, race, or tournament, preferably using a free WordPress blog. After about a couple of months, you will begin to notice massive improvements in the way you write and organise your story.
Only then should you start applying for writing positions with sports websites or newspapers. This might seem tedious, but no amount of degrees or professional qualifications can compare to actual writing experience.
However, please temper your expectations accordingly. Being a sports journalist is never financially rewarding. The hours are long and irregular, and the pressures to meet deadlines and secure interviews are very high. Even worse, while you’re learning the ropes, you might get assigned to weird or extreme sports such as wingsuit flying or volcano boarding instead of football or baseball.
However, there are few jobs that are as emotionally fulfilling as being a sports journalist. Not only will you be sharing moments of triumph with your sporting heroes, you’ll be on a first-name basis with them!
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