Positions in the professional and collegiate sports industries are incredibly sought after for a reason. You occasionally get to work alongside professional athletes, go to games for free, and go to work at palatial stadiums and arenas (in some cases). Outside of that, it’s an industry that can drive you to the brink of insanity and beyond. I held a media relations position with a minor league sports franchise for my first three years out of college, and I’m lucky I made it out alive. Here’s why…
The Hours Are Brutal
First one in the building, last to leave, but this isn’t a good thing like it is with athletes. You’ve probably given members of the cleaning crew rides home before. The show doesn’t run itself. There are ticket sales to be made, game notes to be printed and demand upon demand to be met before and after every game. Spend 16 hours at the stadium working your ass off, and then board a bus or plane to take the show on the road to the next city. Your social life vaporizes from Opening Night ’til the end of the season, whenever that may be.
The Pay Sucks
All the money is given to the players, as it rightly should be. They’re the product and put their body on the line every game. Unfortunately, that leaves little left over for the front office staff budget. If you can get into a VP or director role, your salary will be quite “competitive,” but if you come in at entry-level, prepare for your bank account to be more depressing than the ending of Requiem For A Dream. Good thing you don’t have any free time to spend this money on anything.
Every industry has them. The kid whose dad hooked him up with the job and walks in like he owns the place despite being paid eight dollars an hour and only on gamedays is a prima donna. Shut your stupid mouth, kid. You’re a bottom of the barrel intern who helps the grounds crew put the tarp on the field.
The Offseason Will Drive You To Insanity
Just golf and long lunches, right? Well, some days, maybe. Actually, no. That’s all the time. There’s plenty of downtime in the offseason and it will make you feel like you’re taking crazy pills. The only thing worse than being crazy busy is trying to look moderately busy. You’ll love the calmness around the office for a few weeks after the season, but soon you’ll be missing the action.
Over The Top Competitiveness
It is a cutthroat industry based on competition. Moving up is damn near impossible and only the strong advance. I guess that could be said for a lot of industries, but in this case, there are super-competitive sycophants looking to gain an edge anywhere they can.
It Is Not Glamorous
Most professions aren’t, but you might show up at games thinking people are going to know who you are. They aren’t. You’re just a guy in a suit not having any fun at a sporting event. Why do you hate fun, fun hater? You are pretty vital to the operation, but most of your work is going to go unnoticed and unappreciated by the fans. That’s just the way it is.
Wannabe sportswriters, former jocks and people who just have no idea what they’re talking about in general will constantly be in your ear about what they think the team should be doing, despite you not being able to do a damn thing about it. For the most part, the fans are awesome. They’re the reason you show up to work everyday. But a few sour apples can indeed ruin the bunch.
You’re Not A Fan Anymore
This is the toughest part. You’re a professional now. Stop trying to check out all the action. You have a job that requires you to be focused and attentive at work. You can’t be keeping up with the score, unless you’re on the PR staff. Those guys get to have have all the fun. There are clients, season ticket holders and diehard fans who pour a lot of money into this team and you’re there for them.
Paying Your Dues
You’ll work your ass off for two or three years and then get your first big interview. Unfortunately, your first big interview is with a team a thousand miles away and it’s for the exact same position you hold now.
The job turnover in sports is one of the highest in any industry, and you’ll be moving quite a bit until you finally find that right job. It’ll be similar to being a carnie on some levels, but you’ll be wearing a suit most days and not having sex with men for heroin.