Thinking of studying a Bachelor of Sports Management? Here are 10 things you should know before you leap into a career in the exciting world of sports.
As Dr Trevor Clark, ICMS Dean (Undergraduate) says, “Sport is a booming industry in Australia, some would even say it is part of the DNA of the nation. It unites communities, drives conversations, creates territorial bias, and always delivers drama packed excitement to many people on a daily basis. There are few industries that can match the impact sport has on the lives of everyday Australians.”
The stats underline Dr Clark’s statements. Research shows that sport is big business — and a good investment. It provides an estimated $83 billion in combined economic, health and educational benefits each year, with a return on investment of $7 for every dollar spent.*
Unlike being a professional athlete, by working in the sports industry as you get older you get better in your field and can climb as high as you like on the career ladder. There’s longevity behind-the-scenes – you can be a sports management practitioner until retirement age, and you won’t get dropped from the team because of an injury.
Opportunities are as endless as there are sports in existence, from cricket and rugby to badminton, netball and swimming; wherever there is sport, there is an opportunity to get involved from a career point of view. From professional to amateur sports, community-based or at a national level, there are multiple entry points to graduates with a sports management degree. According to recent government research, fourteen million Australians participate in sport annually, 1.8 million volunteer 158 million hours each year, and 220,000 are employed across the sector, helping to generate approximately 3 per cent of the Australian national GDP.* With this many opportunities, there’s definitely a place for you.
A sports management degree will get your foot in the door, especially if you prove yourself in your internship before you even graduate. If you study the ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management), industry training as part of the ICMS Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program means you spend time learning on-the-job through ICMS industry partners like Rowing NSW, the Sydney Blue Sox, South Sydney Rabbitohs and more. You will gain valuable work experience and have the opportunity to shine before future employers. In this highly competitive industry, WIL gives you an advantage over other graduates.
Combining business subjects with sports specialisations makes you a more well-rounded, marketable, employable sports management professional. With an ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree, business subjects include sales and marketing; agile leadership, collaboration and managing people; strategic planning and innovative problem solving; and financial literacy. In your specialisation subjects you will be exposed to the global sports industry and gain insights into those areas of sport management vital for a successful career in this most exciting of industries. It all adds up to the option of studying business with sports as the best recipe for success in the industry.
Sports-specific subjects go into the science of what makes the sporting industry tick. Subjects like Sports Futures (SPO302A) show you how the future of sports – how it is understood, consumed and its societal impact – will be shaped by an array of divergent and diverse factors. You will look at how sport is played and if it will stay the same going forward, analysing future directions for sport to better anticipate how to stay ahead of the game.
Subjects like Athlete Management and Representation (SPO301A) give you the intellectual tools to understand the complex legal, social, political and technological environment in which high performance sport operates. There’s a reason why studying a sports management degree makes you outshine your competitors; it’s because subjects like these give students a greater understanding of the field in which they choose to pursue a career.
Once you’re in the sports industry, you will either find a job in the execution of local, national or international events, or you’ll network enough to know someone who knows someone who can get you tickets. From local games to iconic events such as Wimbledon, Formula 1, the Super Bowl, Rugby World Cup, the Olympics or The Masters, sports events cement their place in our collective memories and if you are working in the industry, who knows? You may have a greater chance than most to either work with event organisers or gain entry into the inner circle.
According to Salary Expert, the average sports management gross salary in Australia is $98,420 or an equivalent hourly rate of $47. In addition, many workers earn an average bonus of $3,474. An entry level sports management (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of $70,602. On the other end, a senior level sports management (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of $121,648. Salary estimates based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in Australia.**
Sports management is not just about the plays and the techniques of sport, the thrill of the crowd or the final whistle. And a sports management degree does not shoehorn you into one avenue with no wiggle room, such as a pharmacy degree or teaching degree, for example. With a sports management degree, career options are as wide ranging as the number of sports available. There are currently around 3.2 million people involved in non-playing roles in organised sport and physical activity. There are approximately 1.5 million people who identify themselves as coaches, instructors, or teachers of sport.
With more than 75,000 not for profit organisations at national, state and local levels and more “for profit” sports clubs, companies and schools, there are countless opportunities to forge a career in any number of these places of employment. From sports agent to sports manager, sports marketing manager, sports facilities manager and sports promotion manager, among other roles, the options are endless. Click here to read a more in-depth article about what jobs you can get with an ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree.
Not for you the stodgy 9 to 5, pushing paperwork around. While there may be administrative roles you could secure with your degree, they will centre on sports and the execution of successful events, tournaments or leagues. More likely, a career in the sports industry will be outside of the traditional office setting, alongside the sporting field, in corporate boardrooms, in ticketing offices of stadiums or at match venues.
From the broad base of a sports management degree, you earn the freedom to specialise within the sports industry and tailor your career path towards following your passion.
Paintings on caves dating back 15300 years ago show people wrestling and sprinting, while in Egypt there are depictions of people swimming and practising archery around 10000 BCE***. Gladiators in ancient Rome were at their peak strength while entertaining bloodthirsty crowds and the ancient Olympic Games has been in existence since the 8th Century BC, transforming into the spectacle of sport we know as the modern Olympic Games which started in 1896. Sport has its roots in the military, building teamwork and strength, using competition to foster a sense of unity and purpose among infantry.
By studying a bachelor of sports management, you’re entering an industry that has evolved over the years to the highest levels and widest variety of roles, developed over centuries.
For more on Sports Management as a discipline, click here.
For more on the ICMS Bachelor of Business (Sports Management), click here.
“The area of Sports Management is wide and varied. You can work for specific professional or community sporting organisations, private management groups or government bodies.
Many students have a desire to work with their favourite sporting team or have been influenced by media attention on Player Managers. In reality, these roles are limited and also limit the scope of what is actually available.
As with many fields of work, job titles are varied and sometimes very unique. Some of our graduates are now working in the areas of operations management, facility management, customer service (at a venue, sports club), as game day and community officers, sports marketing, social media officer, player management, game statistics, player welfare, Data Analysts, High performance managers, Coaches, Strength and Conditioning managers and development officers.
The range of subjects and the fabulous professional placement available at ICMS will enable students to gain the knowledge of what it means to work in these varied areas and how to utilise your personal strengths in a diverse and ever changing sports environment.”
Natalie Harrison is a Sports Management graduate and has worked alongside the ICMS Sports Management and High performance Sport students for the past eight years.
Watch three ICMS graduates share their Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) experience here:
Listen to The Sports Grad Podcast here, where sports managers are interviewed about how they got into the business.
Read an interview with ICMS Sports Management graduate Amy Edwards, whose ICMS internship at the Sydney Swans turned into a fulltime role.
Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Evaluated by: Graeme Murphy, Lecturer, University of Sunshine Coast [March 2021]
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
*** History of Sport