If you have a passion for both sports and marketing, consider pursuing a career in sports marketing. It’s not always easy to combine two passions, but with the right education and drive, landing a career in sports marketing might not be as difficult as you thought.

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There are many sports marketing degree programs available that you can easily find with an internet search.

What Is Sports Marketing?

A career in sports marketing can lead to some different career paths, but what’s most important is to have a desire to always learn more – not only about the sports you already know and love but also the sports that might not be as popular and the ones about which you’re not aware just yet.

Sports marketing can require an individual to share – or rather, market – why a team is the best and why everyone should support them. This is called brand loyalty. After people receive so much information about a team, they will want to support them and purchase tickets to their games, wear their branded memorabilia such as hats and T-shirts and most importantly, share with everyone else how much they love the team.

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Alternatively, if a team is not well known or if a certain sport isn’t well known in a market, it is now the marketing agency's job to let the public know that they should support a team or a new sport. A campaign will be developed to gain attention, and the public may receive free tickets to the event to see for themselves. This type of marketing is also important when a team or a sport may not be popular, especially if they are a losing team or the sport needs bodies to fill the seats until popularity is gained.

A sports marketer may also market to the public a specific item or an individual who has a close affiliation with a sport. This helps to connect the brand to the sport or the brand to the individual who is notable to the sport. This normally happens if a marketing agency wants a large brand awareness around a certain item, like a shoe. The marketer may design a campaign around the shoe and why it’s the best one available. To make the shoe more popular, the agency will hire a popular athlete and have him exclusively wear their shoe when he's playing (if he's not contractually obligated to wear another brand) and have him wear the shoe while he's out in public. The marketing agency hopes that the shoe is spotted on the popular athlete, which will then make the shoe popular and inspire people to purchase it the next time they’re looking for a new shoe.

This not only happens with shoes but also with beverages, food, clothes and even cars. If a popular athlete is spotted driving a specific car or states that he loves the car, it makes the brand more noticeable to the wider population. The sports marketing connection can be seen a lot in sports like NASCAR. Not only are the cars marketed with advertisements covering the car, but so is the driver. Because the driver drives a specific car, his image is aligned and marketed with that brand. The driver’s jumpsuit also advertises a series of other brands with which the driver and the driver’s team is affiliated, and if the driver wins the race, the drink that is sprayed above his head is now connected with a winner.

How to Get a Sports Marketing Degree

Just like any additional education you would want to obtain, it’s important to remember that getting a degree isn’t something you should decide overnight. It’s important to really think about why you want that specific degree and what types of job opportunities will be available after you complete the program. Next, it’s important to think about your budget and what you can and can’t afford when entering a degree program. The good news is that there are always scholarship and grant opportunities for students needing financial assistance, so begin researching opportunities right away. Be sure to plan for the time commitment you’ll need to give when considering the degree program. Any degree program can be time consuming, so it’s always important to make sure that your schedule will permit you to dedicate the time you need.

Once all of those things have been considered and you’ve met any prerequisites needed to earn a degree, such as obtaining a high school diploma or completing a GED program, it’s now time to apply to colleges with sports marketing programs.

Colleges With Sports Marketing Programs

Now that you’re serious and ready to participate in a sports marketing program, you need to decide where you want to go. If you want to stick close to home, a quick search on the internet can give you a little information as to what’s available in your area. Once those schools are identified, you can visit their website for more information and request further information from that department. You can even call and schedule an appointment to either speak to admissions or meet them in person to learn more about the program.

If moving away from home is more of what you had planned, another quick internet search can help you identify sports marketing programs in your preferred geographic area. Maybe you already have a favorite school in mind and just a simple internet search will let you know if a program is available and what prerequisites have to be met in order to be admitted into the program.

Also, don’t forget that much of the world is connected by the internet, so an online program might be what works best for you as well. There are plenty of options to help you get the education you need in the way that best suits you.

The good news is that many colleges have marketing programs that will allow a student to focus on sports marketing. The college may even have a sports management degree program. Either way, these programs will allow students to focus on the nuts and bolts of the degree while also allowing them to learn about the career they would like to pursue.

Right outside of New York City, where there are many different professional sports teams in the area, students can attend Rutgers University and enroll in their global sports program. While the degree may not be called sports marketing, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about sports marketing in the range of classes that are offered in the degree program.

Other colleges to consider that have sports management programs near major sports markets include Widener University, just a few miles outside of Philadelphia, UCLA in California, the University of Massachusetts and Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Ohio University is considered a leader in sports management for future leaders.

It’s important to review each program to decide which options best fit your needs and career goals and even more importantly, which programs will help you obtain internship opportunities and a job after college. While earning a degree is extremely important, on-the-job training is just as important because it allows you to learn what would be expected of you in the job you desire. It can also highlight parts of the job you hadn’t considered and in which you might not have interest, which is also helpful when considering what you want to do in the future.

What Careers Can You Pursue With a Sports Marketing Degree?

After you obtain your degree, you might be surprised with the career path on which you find yourself. It’s important to understand that job markets are constantly changing, and in order to go where you want to go, you may have to take smaller roles until you get the one about which you dream. A degree can help you land in the public relations office of a minor league team or a major professional team. The degree may also open the door to a position you may not realize in the very beginning, such as working as a mascot for the team until something more in line with what you were hoping for becomes available.

The sports marketing degree can also help you earn a position in a sales office in administration, which would require you to sell tickets to large groups or companies. Additionally, you may need to sell marketing spots to radio, internet or television as part of an advertising team so that your sporting event or athlete is getting the brand awareness deserved. If you’re very creative, you can find a career in managing sports campaigns so that your company’s brand is what people will buy first when they’re heading to the court or the field.

Maybe professional sports isn’t where your heart is; maybe it’s acting as a marketing assistant for a local college team and making sure the public is aware of the college teams and their playing schedules. As you grow into your career with experience, maybe it’s leading a team as an owner. A sports marketing degree can certainly help make that dream a reality. Furthermore, with a sports marketing degree and a law degree, you could have a lucrative career in contract negotiations for players or teams. Students who have earned sports marketing degrees can also have success managing and promoting large sports complexes for professional sports teams or for youth traveling tournaments.

If you decide after earning a sports marketing degree that sports marketing just isn’t for you, there are still opportunities to use the degree elsewhere in marketing, such as public relations, sales and advertising. In fact, you can use your sports marketing degree to build on another degree or career about which you are passionate.

The possibilities are endless. Just because you’ve earned a degree in one program doesn’t mean it’s not transferable somewhere else. It is. You simply have to think about what other careers might interest you and then set up an in-person or over-the-phone appointment with a career counselor who can help guide you toward your next steps. You can also ask for guidance from the human resources representative once you’re employed, should the position you land after you receive your sports marketing degree not be the right fit for you. They have the tools and knowledge necessary to help you find what you’re looking for. After all of the education you’ve received, you may decide to share it in a degree program as an instructor for sports management and teach what you really love.

The good news is that if you want to earn a sports marketing degree, there are many ways to do so, whether it be in person, online or a mixture of both. There is a good chance that your favored college or university has the curriculum and courses for which you’re looking.

About the Author

As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.