Popular articles


    sportbusiness2Let's cover a simple but perhaps overlooked topic when discussing careers in sport - What is 'Sport Business' exactly? At it's essence it can be defined as the off-field business of managing and facilitating sport. Ok that still sounds a bit vague so here we will go deeper into the topic, firstly by defining the business areas typically included under the ‘Sport Business’ banner.

    sport functionsAlthough this list is not exhaustive you will have hopefully noticed this does not include any on-field support functions e.g. coaching, sports medicine, which a huge area of its own right, often referred to as ‘Sport Performance’. Sport business is more about the actual business activities that make sport happen e.g. sponsoring a team, managing an athlete, selling TV rights, putting on an event, marketing to fans. That sounds much better doesn’t it? Many people think so and it’s why many want to work in this fascinating industry, but often don’t know where they would fit in. If sport is your passion and you can get a job or build a business within it then you are halfway down the road to happiness and fulfilment (ok, other stuff has to happen too of course).

    If you look at the sport business disciplines once again you can see that some are generic to many industries e.g. marketing, whereas others are very specific e.g. athlete management. Looking at them collectively the key take-out is actually the skills that sit within. That’s a good place to match what you think you are good at, or more importantly what you love doing, with what skills are needed in each of the disciplines. Again some are very specific and some are quite general.

    • Sales
    • Creative ideas
    • Designing
    • Negotiating
    • Contracting
    • Managing people
    • Promoting & publicising
    • Digital & Social media
    • Writing & Presenting
    • Researching

    If you have one or some of these skills, and crucially you enjoy doing them, then there is a role in sport business for you - there really is. It’s estimated that 12 million people work in sport, with around half of these being involved in sport business. These people work across half a million companies and generate circa $500bn every year, and it’s growing. So don’t be daunted, be positive. There is plenty to go for and it’s only going to get bigger.

    Sport business is a multifaceted and sometimes complex beast but it’s dynamic, large scale and incredibly rewarding if you love sport and you are confident in your own ability.

    Generally, most roles are contained within four business groups;

    • Rights Holders
    • Brands
    • Agencies
    • Media

    Rights Holders are the sports events, federations, teams or athletes. FIFA is a rights holder for the FIFA World Cup, Chicago Bulls are a team and Lewis Hamilton is an athlete.

    Brands are self-explanatory but within a sport business context they can be defined as sport brands e.g. Nike, EA Sport, but also brands that are in sport through association e.g. Visa, which is an Olympic sponsor. Did you think you could work at Visa and be working in sport business? Well, you can. They have a team in every country that oversees and manages their countless sport partnerships.

    Agencies are by far the biggest group and they cover just about every single sport business discipline. What this means is that there are agencies for sponsorship, legal, design, broadcast, athlete management etc. These agencies are generally employed by rights holders and brands to work on their business in sport.

    Media is defined as the media focused organisations that cover sport and its events. TV, press and now of course online and social.

    There may be four main employer groups but the boundaries between them are becoming blurred as media owners can sometimes also be rights holders and vice versa. This is no bad thing for current and prospective sport business professionals as movement between the groups is much more fluid than ever before, affording everyone more opportunities.

    Sport business is a multifaceted and sometimes complex beast but it’s dynamic, large scale and incredibly rewarding if you love sport and you are confident in your own ability.

    “Believe in yourself and back yourself to come out on top. A fulfilling career is waiting for those brave enough to find it”
    Richard Branson.

    Good advice and clearly not just confined to sport. Knowing what you want, arming yourself with all the knowledge you need and then backing yourself to make an impact are the three steps to success. 

    Find more great articles to learn more about the sports industry on our Learn: Knowledge Hub



    Check out our unique sports industry video interviews and insights.


    Related Posts

    Planning your career in sport: Advice for success

    At the recent 7th annual ISB Careers Symposium held at Loughborough University London, aspiring sports professionals had...

    Read more

    Women in Football: How can you pursue a career in the football industry?

    In recent years, the landscape of football has witnessed a remarkable transformation, particularly in two key areas: Wom...

    Read more

    Unveiling the Next Era: Major Trends in Skill Competencies in the Sports Management Field

    The world of sports management is changing quickly. To keep up, it's important to understand the key skills and trends t...

    Read more

    Subscribe to our Newsletter