Breaking Into Sports: Tips From Old Pros

A career in sports is what dreams are made of for a lot of people. The thought of playing, or coaching, or just being in the environment always warms the blood. But, the red stuff cools down again when you realise how hard it is to break down the barrier. Unfortunately, the sports industry is one that is exclusive and insular, which means it isn’t open to the public.

The good news is that the tricks of the trade always get out in the end. With that in mind, the following tips are from old pros who have worked throughout the industry. If these don’t open doors, nothing will.

#1: Start Young

Let’s face it – everyone wants to be a player before they are a coach or a journalist. No one grows up and aspires to be watching from the sidelines. You are desperate to be in the thick of the action instead. Although you will have to count on luck, there are ways to get ahead. One thing that sports scouts say among them is that the younger the kids start, the better. Why? It’s because it gives the machine the chance to mould kids into something different. Children don’t always perform well under pressure, which isn’t great in a pressure environment. The longer the kids have to impress, the greater the chances of success. Plus, there is the fact that the likelihood of being scouted after 16 falls dramatically.

#2: Sacrifice

It isn’t a nice thought, but even children at a young age have to sacrifice a lot if they want to succeed. The truth is that sports franchises don’t have the time to babysit individuals. They want people to act a certain way from the beginning to give everyone the best chance of progression. That means training hard, cutting off friends, and avoiding girls and alcohol. While the rest of the group do everything that a kid dreams of, you will have to put it off until later. Whether you look at Lionel Messi or Kobe Bryant, they all went through the same thing.

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#3: Work Weekends

Maybe your playing days are behind you? If they are, you need to find a new avenue. Coaching is an excellent way to get your foot in the door as long as you are ready to commit. The reality is that coaches don’t get a lot of money, and they work long hours. But, it’s the long hours that pay off in the end. Working weekends not only shows your dedication, but it also helps you keep up with the trends. Sports don’t run off gut feel anymore. Thanks to techniques like Moneyball, organisations understand the importance of qualifications. In 2017, they want people with the right skill set because sports always change. That means there is no time for a day off.

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#4: Go Back To School

Experience is one of the best ways to gain the knowledge you need to succeed. But, it isn’t the only option. Going back to school isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Adelphi offers a sports management degree online which is worth considering. A university doesn’t seem like the best place to learn more about an industry that is scared of the outside world. But, the world is changing, and so is the industry. A degree is as good a way as any to learn about how the sector works, and how to break down the door. Plus, it stands out a mile on a resume. Certain roles in sports won’t accept you without one anyway. Sports journalists or management positions, for example, only hire university graduates.

#5: Make Contacts

Sports are boys’ clubs. Anyone that doesn’t understand this won’t get very far. But, if you can wrap your head around the concept, it’s possible to use it to your advantage. Think about it rationally for a minute, and you’ll see the big picture. Sports rely on recommendations from trustworthy sources, so you need a referral. How do you get one? You can start by networking. Making contacts is the best way to keep your ear close to the ground and snap up an opportunity that comes along. You might have to do them a favour in the process, but that is part and parcel of being apart of the industry.

Who knows? Once you break into the industry, maybe you can change the way it works. After all, you have to play the game before you can change the game.

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Good luck in your search,
Joey

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Joey@careeralley.com
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