Much is said and published about education nowadays. Technology has advanced by tenfold and the world is much better connected than it was a decade ago. Information is more widely accessible to today’s generation and, increasingly, more qualified professionals enter the job market in search of opportunities. In this respect, it is somewhat easy to draw parallels between technological advances and society’s increasing connectivity, and the professionalisation of sport. Somewhat frustrating, however, is the overall lack of understanding of applicability of this development on a more personal level.
I have recently taken up postgraduate education, commencing a part-time MBA in Sport Management. Having concluded my BA a few years ago, I have been an active professional for the past 6-7 years, having deliberately chosen not to continue my studies immediately after my graduate degree. Why? you may ask, an answer to which I will try to enlighten the reader with this forthcoming series of weekly articles - or blog entries.
When deciding the time had come to pursue a postgraduate degree, I found the whole ‘prospective student’ experience incredibly frustrating. It is fairly straightforward to find information on any given University or degree you wish to undertake, and degrees in Sport seem to have increased in popularity over the years, however, it proved extremely difficult to find relevant literature aimed at addressing the question of timing - namely: when is the right time to pursue a postgraduate degree? A question perhaps even more prominent in the high-level competing industry that is sports.
Having only just been through the process, I do not believe there is an ultimate answer to this question and I won’t pretend to have one either. In essence, there is no right or wrong - there is only what you wish to make of it. Only you can assess when the time is right to take your education to the next level, or even if it is relevant at all. Nevertheless, having recently taken up David Conn’s very personal account of the transformation of Manchester City FC on ‘Richer than God’ as a bedtime literature, the possibility that my own experiences, observations - and why not struggles? - could be of value to any potential reader with the same uncertainties as I have faced, seemed extremely pertinent.
So why take up a MBA in Sport, and why now? It’s no secret the sports industry is one of the most competitive businesses. Perhaps due to its overarching inherent competitive nature, but more likely because of its entertainment origin, there is a competitive quality embedded in the business of sport - youngsters by the thousands dream and compete for a chance of working in sports. For me, more than wanting to follow the trend of so many recent graduates trying to set themselves apart in a true sea of contestants competing for the same opportunities, I was more interested in the deep-rooted industry knowledge. Applying theory to practice and relating practice to theory. Essentially, I want to be better at my job.
That is not to say I don’t value the weight of the degree itself. Far from it, we are all looking to shift the scales on competitive balance and establish ourselves at the top. If we think of our individual careers as business units, unlike sports, we do not operate under ‘peculiar economic’ principles and rather seek monopoly as the ultimate goal - perhaps not quite the most eloquent way to phrase it, but the end game is that we want to be the best. And so it is for me - I have a background in Advertising and want a better understanding of this industry I have stepped into. I’ve been a sports enthusiast - to keep it on mild terms - most of my life, but it was only after I started working and serving the industry that I truly gained a business-like perspective of it. It is this same perspective I’m now looking to broaden.
I’m now three weeks into my lectures and I can unashamedly say it’s been nothing short of exciting. Does that make me something of a geek? Perhaps, although I would honestly question the validity of the degree if I were not enjoying it so even this early into term. The class seems to be composed by a majority of international students, which seems to dictate a whopping number of full-time students enrolled as opposed to part-timers. That’s a double minority for me - I’m not only a part-time student, but I’m also one of the very few women in the class. ‘Not surprising’ most could argue, but is it really?
During the following weeks I will attempt to address some of the underlying issues and opportunities arisen through postgraduate education in sports – and not only from a woman’s perspective so men need not be discouraged to read further. I will illustrate these with my own particular experiences as well as those of some of my classmates. It will be entirely up to the reader to take these accounts into their own personal circumstances to make more informed decisions on education or the industry as a whole - or rather simply to read on as a pastime.
Furthermore, the purpose of these entries is to also generate discussion on some of the topics and/or matters approached, and for this my inbox is at the reader’s command - comments, requests, suggestions etc are more than welcome - simply get in touch !
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