The Chicago Cubs, one of the oldest franchises in American sports, kept their fans waiting for a World Series championship for more than a century after their 1908 win. The Cubs didn’t win another Major League Baseball title until 2016. The Windy City celebrated for days, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in financial gains for the city of Chicago and the team, according to Forbes.
While the Cubs players received much deserved attention for their championship season, it was more than just the athletes’ work that made it happen. A front office consisting of several hundred full-time employees also powered the victory. Sports industry professionals work year-round in numerous sports disciplines to create and support wins. From owners and general managers to ticket sales offices, sports front offices are full of business professionals working in this unique, exciting industry. Continue reading to learn more about how to work in the front office of a sports team and explore the education required and several different career paths in the industry.
Explore the Sports Lifestyle
Sports teams are unique in their structure, revenue streams, and environment. Contributing to these qualities is the nature of sports schedules, which often include different in-season and offseason operations. Depending on the position, the job focus changes, as do the hours. Those who work in sports often must work nights and weekends, especially during the season, though the offseasons can include weeks, if not months, of time off or reduced responsibilities. Working in a sports front office is not often part-time or low stress, but the rewards can be substantial.
What also sets this type of work environment apart from others is the importance of both the on-field product and the behind-the-scenes development. There’s only so much that front office personnel –– aside from the team’s general manager and owners –– can do to remedy on-field or on-court failures, but their work impacts the team as a whole just the same. These professionals prepare for work in many different kinds of environments. They might work for a successful franchise that competes for championships every year or a team with a smaller budget and modest expectations. In any scenario, these professionals find ways to create success in marketing, operations, public relations, and more.
Discover Sports Front Office Career Opportunities
Though there are many different career opportunities available in sports, many of the front office jobs fall into one of four categories: operations, marketing, public relations, and sales. Professionals pursuing jobs in any of these disciplines benefit from a degree that combines a business curriculum with courses related to the sports industry, such as Maryville University’s online Rawlings Bachelor of Science in Sport Business Management. Courses in sports marketing, finance, and sports business analytics complement courses in business law and statistics to provide a well-rounded education that prepares students for opportunities in sports front offices.
Many considering how to work in a sports front office seek careers in general operations. These professionals make sure the team has everything it needs to function properly, contributing to the success of every department. When an MLB team travels to its spring training location in February, the operations staff packs dozens of transport trucks with all the necessary equipment and supplies and helps distribute them to the proper places. Operations employees also ensure there is a well-trained staff in place for games. It’s their job to guarantee that the team and its supporting staff have everything they need to do their jobs and give fans a positive game day experience.
In the sports world, marketing professionals promote the team to the local community and beyond. Marketing departments work to build a team into a successful brand, developing an identity through the use of slogans, imagery, commercials, billboards, and other types of advertisements. Most sports franchises are active on multiple social media channels, where they put out their own digital content to attract new fans and excite the existing base.
Sports public relations is about promoting the players, both as individuals and as a team, and forming connections with the surrounding community. Throughout the year, athletes are in-demand entertainers. Sports teams can use this to their advantage to promote their players and endear them to the community. PR efforts often involve having athletes visit local hospitals or nonprofits, perform community outreach, or appear on television and radio or at speaking events with local politicians or businesspeople.
Sports franchises offer many sales opportunities. Three primary areas in which sales and sports intersect are ticket sales, merchandising, and advertising. Merchandise sales have an effect on on-field success, and marketing efforts can make the team’s apparel trendy to wear. Team success can also affect ticket sales, though experienced professionals know how to keep sales strong by offering discounts or in-game promotions, such as giveaways or entertainment. Sports teams also have many other advertising opportunities, such as strategic logos placed in television shows or on billboards at the busiest intersections in surrounding cities. Franchises can take advantage of advertising partnerships in different fields to bring in millions of dollars of revenue each year.
Find Your Career in a Sports Front Office
Working in a sports front office means employment in a team-focused environment where your job can deliver entertainment and fun to millions of people, no matter your role. Find out more about how Maryville University’s online Rawlings Bachelor of Science in Sport Business Management can help you enter the unique, challenging, and exciting sports industry.
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Bleacher Report, “What Exactly Does Each Member of an NFL’s Front Office Do?”
Forbes, “First World Series in 108 Years Adds at Least $300 Million to Value of Chicago Cubs”
Houston Chronicle, “A List of Careers in Sports”
LinkedIn, “I Just Want to Work in Sports”
Maryville University, Rawlings Sport Business Management Online Bachelor’s Degree
MLB Trade Rumors, “GMs Advise Students With Front Office Aspirations”
Sports Business Daily, “What’s the Payoff in Sports?”
WorkInSports.com, “How 10 MLB General Managers Began Their Sports Careers”