Springboard to Success: An MBA in Sports Management | TopMBA.com

Springboard to Success: An MBA in Sports Management

By Visnja Milidragovic

Updated February 2, 2018 Updated February 2, 2018

This article is sponsored by EU Business School. 

The time is ripe for professionals to develop more specialized management skills for jobs in the sports industry. With the sports industry arguably growing faster than a country’s national GDP, there is an ever-increasing need to run clubs and sporting events as organized businesses, at both global and local levels.

In response to the industry’s expansion, business schools are developing curricula to meet growing demand and to prepare professionals for a new set of career challenges in sports management. As such, for students looking to change careers or to springboard their careers internationally, an MBA in sports management, such as that offered by EU Business School, could launch graduates into a fulfilling management career.  According to EU Business School, “the sports market is expanding in countries which are experiencing strong economic growth,” opening up more management opportunities in BRICS markets (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). MBA in sports management degree-holders may want to look to opportunities that emanate from high-profile, global sporting events, such as the Olympic Games (currently being hosted by Rio de Janerio) and the FIFA World Cup (taking place in Russia in summer 2018).

Sports management opportunities increase with the evolving business of sport

A resolute shift is occurring in the sports industry, with new management roles opening up thanks to changes in technology that touch the key drivers of the business of sport – media, commercial activities and consumer behavior. Last year, global sports revenues were predicted to reach US$145.3 billion according to a PwC outlook report, with, “the commercial dynamics of sport and entertainment…closer than ever before.” As noted by EU Business School, the sports market is, “breaking ground through the incorporation of various sectors into areas of the business world.” This positions MBA graduates with a well-rounded academic and professional experience as ideal candidates to pave the way for the future of this growing industry.

Elevating standards of performance and competition for the sports industry is no longer limited to facilitating the activity of players and athletes. According to Chris Jordan, senior consultant at sports recruitment agency, SRi, “sport is more commercial and professional than ever and clubs need to have the right structure in place, while ensuring they continue to nurture their own club identity and connection to their fans.” The changes that come with developments in the entertainment industry as a whole – such as the impact of technologies and social media, as highlighted by PwC, as well as shifts in regional growth and demand – call for an increased need for managers to take the lead in making sports competitive within the larger business of consumer brands, media and entertainment.

Sports industry recruiters have seen commercial departments increase almost threefold over the last five years, with dedicated media departments being created to tackle new opportunities in technology, content and international development. An example from English soccer (football) reflects the staggering results of such trends: Between 2010 and 2016, one Premier League club saw matchday revenue increase by half, broadcasting revenue double (when huge UK TV rights payments came into effect) and commercial revenue, such as merchandising and partnership deals, more than double. Sports managers and leadership, advise PwC forecasters, will only succeed if they can rise to the challenges of the evolving industry – and an MBA may just be the ticket to prepare professionals to take on new roles in areas like business development, growth and engagement, events management, finance and marketing.

Top professional business skills needed in expanding sports industry

The evolution of the sports industry as part of a wider marketplace of consumer entertainment has created a greater need for professional candidates to manage at senior levels. In fact, candidates need not necessarily have a background in the industry to get into roles in sports management, as was commonly the case some years ago. “These days we are getting more and more requests from clients to find people from other relevant sectors, says Jordan. “They are looking for candidates that are able to implement best practice around various commercial elements and strategy.”

An MBA in sports management may be exactly the leverage candidates who are looking to switch to the sports industry need in order to stand out when contending for strategic management roles. Educational background is a key factor that organizations look at when reviewing candidates for roles in the sports industry. While one can show interest and a commitment to working in sports, demonstrating your stack of skills and experience gained outside of sport with a well-rounded profile and professional track record (an established prerequisite for MBA admittance already) may be even more key.  

Marketing and finance are two areas that stand out as increasingly important for management roles in the sports industry, as sports organizations and clubs increasingly need to regard themselves as corporate brands with loyal followers in order to contend with competitors. Classical marketing training that covers the principles of brand marketing and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as showing a record of tangible results are of particular value in job applications. An MBA in sports management covers these topics through courses such as marketing management and sponsorship specific to the sports industry. This is true of EU Business School’s MBA, for instance, which also offers students the ability to work on skills that are directly relevant to the industry through its business strategy simulation and dissertation components of the program, which can help candidates demonstrate their readiness for the real world.

EU Business School’s specialized MBA is available at three of its campuses in Europe - Barcelona, Geneva and Montreux - on a full-time as well as a part-time basis.

This article is sponsored by EU Business School. 

This article was originally published in August 2016 . It was last updated in February 2018

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Written by

Visnja is a content specialist with a background in marketing and communications. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia and a master's in publishing from Simon Fraser University. Her interests include media & technology, personal growth, health & wellness, and innovation, topics that stay top of mind in her writing.

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