Tips for Finding Your Dream Career in Sports – Hit the Field!
Does it ever cross your mind how many people wake up every morning really loving what they do for a living? You will probably spend three quarters of your life hustling to make that dollar. Most people work a 9-5 job because it’s secure and comfortable, but is it truly their passion? I have to say that I wake up every morning looking forward to creating new opportunities and doing some pretty exciting things. It’s easily attainable for any aspiring sports lover or entrepreneur by following a few steps.
Many people ask me everyday, how can I get involved in sports and make a living from it? Well, here are some tips from my experience that may help on your journey.
It Starts with True Passion
You have to eat, sleep and dream about what you love. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Cut your loses before you waste any more valuable time. I was literally born with a baseball in my hand. Sports was always in my blood and knew from when I was a kid, from collecting my first football and baseball cards in 1982, that I had to make sports my career, if not playing it, then the business end of it. By always reading sports related magazines, the sports section of the newspaper, watching SportsCenter daily, playing fantasy football and attending as many games as I could, it helped lead me to my path in life.
Constantly Be Around the Game
I grew up going to baseball and hockey games. My Dad took me to a lot of Yankees, Mets and New Jersey Devils game. If I was lucky and the games ran late, I didn’t have to go to school the next day. When I got in my teens, I went to a lot of Spring Training and minor league games in Florida. And of course, many Orlando Magic and UCF football games. By constantly being around the games, you get to learn the business, how the stadiums operate, how corporate advertising works and the many things that go into a game day production.
Find a Way to Obtain a Press Pass
This is the best access you can get to a game as well as networking with the top sports writers, reporters and broadcasters. Sidelines, locker room, courtside, player interviews, how much better does it get? By starting out as an intern for a local or national media outlet, you will come face to face with the big names in the industry, which can lead to more opportunities. Of course, it’s not easy because everyone wants to do this, but by offering your services, this could be your golden ticket to the big leagues for your career in the sports world. Offer to hold a camera, do player interviews, write a column for the local paper or top sports blog. Contact your local media outlets first to see if they could use help, then the Media Relations director for the team is the best way to accomplish this.
Do Your Research and Become an Expert
The Internet is gods gift to a true sports fan. Every league, sport, player and team have numerous blogs dedicated to the latest news, gossip and research. My favorites are, of course, TerezOwens.com and ESPN.com. Information is power and these are the best sources to know what’s going on in the sports world. Subscribe to Sports Illustrated, the Sports Business Journal and other top publications. On the Internet opportunities are endless. My company, AthletePromotions.com books athletes (that I grew up idolizing) for corporate appearances, speaking engagements and endorsements. I also build, market and manage the official websites for many popular sports celebrities. It’s my hobby, that turned into my dream career.
Connect with the Decision Makers in the Sports Industry
With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can connect with virtually every sports fan, player or employee of a specific team. If you are looking for opportunities to reach out to team employees, LinkedIn is definitely the best way. Everyone from upper level management, ticket operations, marketing directors, the HR department and special event coordinators, you can find and reach out to key people. To start, simply send a nice email introducing your self and how you can make their lives better.
Attend Annual Conferences, Networking Events and Join Clubs
There are numerous conferences and events through out the year that bring together key decision makers in the sports world. Conferences such as the Sports Media & Technology 2011 in NYC, The National Sports Career & Networking Conference in Washington DC and the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas are a great place to start. Many of the top industry leaders deliver keynote speeches at these events. There may be a cost, but well worth it to network with top executives. Other cool events to make contacts include the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards show at Disney, the ESPYS in LA and all the Hall of Fame inductions. Many teams also host annual banquets to the public such as the Orlando Magic’s Black Tie and Tennis Gala that bring out everyone in the organization from top to bottom. Just remember to dress sharp and bring plenty of business cards.
– Hang Around the Hot Spots Before and After Games
If you want to meet the right people, you have to be in the middle of the action. Research the popular places around the stadiums and arena: the hotel bars, cigar lounges, top restaurants and exclusive clubs. This is where most of the agents, current and former players, and top executives hang out before and after the game. I’ve smoked cigars with Dr J, talked to Terrell Owens and bought drinks for Mark Cuban (he returned the favor as well). You can’t make things happen if you aren’t out there in the field.
Yes these things take money, but consider it an investment to your future. I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on game tickets, airfare, hotels, apparel, memorabilia, food, drinks ,etc but you will never be able to replace the memories, the connections I’ve made and knowledge gained from these experiences. These tips can be applied to getting your dream job in other industries as well. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
Remember, if you love what you do for a living, you will never work a day in your life. – RT