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The Difficulty of Finding a Job in Sports Is Not News

by Ryan Hudson

Yesterday, in the New York Times, Ken Belson took a look at how difficult it is for recent graduates to find a job in sports. Belson spoke with Jason Martin, a South Carolina sport management major who, despite his "four-month unpaid internship at the Family Circle Cup," has been unable to land a full-time job. This, of course, is attributed to the recession.

He hoped his internship would lead to a salaried job. Not this year. Because of the recession, Martin, who graduated this month with thousands of other sports management majors across the country, is continuing his job search at home in Virginia. If no full-time work turns up by September, he will enroll in a master’s degree program.

“Graduate school is definitely Plan B,” said Martin, 21, who is working this summer as a swimming coach. “My original intention was to get a job, but with the economy, there’s so many people who just graduated who can’t even get a cup of coffee with a prospective employer.”

Yes, the recession is negatively affecting sports. Just look at the stands of any baseball game. And as Belson notes: "The N.F.L. has cut nearly 200 jobs. The N.B.A. has eliminated 10 percent of its staff, and the United States Olympic Committee laid off more than 50 workers. The L.P.G.A. dropped several tournaments, and Honda ended its Formula One sponsorship. The Jets will furlough some employees for two weeks, and the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins have cut jobs." But is it really all of a sudden making it hard to get a job in sports? No. Here's some shocking news: it has always been hard to get a job in sports. Apologies if my heart doesn't go out to Martin.

When I graduated with my sports management degree in 2004 (ya know, before the recession), I already had completed two internships, including one with the New England Patriots. After months of interviews and hopelessly sending out my resume, the best lead I had for a job in sports was ticket sales for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the Short-Season A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The yearly salary for that position: a whopping $18,000. No benefits, no bonuses, and definitely not 40-hour work-weeks (those don't exist in sports).

As budgets are tightened and work forces are scaled down, job opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer, but let's not pretend that as recently as a couple of years ago, college graduates were able to stroll up to FedEx Field with a resume in hand and immediately begin their new career as a GM.

Getting a job in sports is, quite simply, a grind. It's (usually) years spent in ticket sales, before you move up to promotions or game day activities, and then, maybe after 10 years, you find yourself in a position of power (and one that actually pays enough for you to afford gas AND food during the week).

There is simply nothing easy about getting a great sports job (and this is coming from someone who has both a Bachelor's and Master's in sports management -- it's like majoring in P.E. class twice!) My advice to those new graduates who are having trouble getting their dream job in sports: get used to it.

In Sports Business, Too Many Hopefuls for Too Few Positions - NYT