How to be a sport manager

The way of life of the sports manager has many advantages but also some disadvantages. The advantages are that the sports manager usually experiences high job satisfaction, opportunities to travel and contact with many people in their daily work. Furthermore, the sports manager usually has complete autonomy to set their daily/weekly work schedule. Disadvantages include the fact that positions in sport are often reliant on external funding (sponsorship or government funding) and it can be a lifestyle where you are never not working.

The following provides an idea of the skills and knowledge you will need to be an effective sports administrator.

Be a motivator

Sports managers need to exude energy, show tremendous enthusiasm and love to work with people. They need to be great motivators. Sport organisations generally need lots of volunteers and the sport manager needs to enthusiastically approach people and recruit them to do voluntary work.

They also need to be enthusiastic in dealing with the general public and the regular stream of enquiries about the organisation and its programs. Therefore good communication skills is a necessary attribute of the sport manager.

Program Innovation

Sports managers need to be innovative particularly when it comes to developing programs and events to recruit membership/participants and/or to nurture talent. Sometimes it is useful for the sport manager to be unafraid to throw tradition out of the window. Innovation is necessary for several reasons:

  • There is great competition between sports to recruit new membership
  • New sports arrive and gain popularity all the time and put pressure on traditional sports.
  • Sport organisations have to compete with computer games and a variety of digital media distractions to recruit new membership.
  • Sport organisations also suffer the impact of the 7 day working week in retail that entices young people away from sport to work and make money.

One of the most well known innovative programs was running "Midnight Basketball" to keep kids of streets late at night.

Getting sponsorship

Sponsorship is such an important aspect of sport management that it is really essential for anyone wishing to be employed in this line of work to have the knowledge and skills to be able to:

  • Develop sponsorship packages
  • Contact business entities and negotiate/sell sponsorship packages
  • Manage sponsorship agreements

The higher up the echelon of sport organisations, the more important sponsorship becomes.

Anyone fronting up to an interview for a position as a Sport Manager is very likely to be asked questions about experience with sponsorship.

Managing risks

Risk management is a critically important aspect of the management function in any organisation in any industry.

Sport managers need to have knowledge and skills to identify risk and implement risk management strategies.

A failure to appropriately manage risks can have a severe impact on the organisation and individuals caught up in any failure.

Creating systems

Sports management requires the organisation of events and programs that often involve the participation of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Such events and programs cannot be postponed because the organisation is not ready. Managers of sport organisation have to create systems that ensure that events and programs are delivered on time and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Systems that need to be created and managed to deliver sport events and programs include:

It is not necessary for sport managers to undertake all of the above work themselves but they must oversee and take responsibility to ensure that the work is done, and done on time. For this reason Sport Managers need to have a good working knowledge of these systems even if they are going to appoint someone else to do the day to day work.


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