There are many articles out there about finding a job in sports. Almost every sports conference has a panel devoted to this topic. Most of the advice is sound, since it often comes from insiders holding influential positions.
The focus is always on “breaking into sports,” which has become very difficult due to the huge number of people attempting it. There is an alternate approach. I describe it as “breaking out”, like a hitter having a breakout season.
The world has changed. Back in the 1990’s, you had to build and polish a resume with all the right background, send it off to the decision makers, and then hope for the best. Now, technology enables sports outsiders to become insiders without actually breaking in. The barrier is still there, but the right skills and knowledge can streamline the process.
The key step is to put your work out there for all to see. Whether through a website, blog, app or videos, you can gain exposure in sports far easier than ever before. When I wrote The Baseball Perspective in the early 1990’s, it required a graphic designer, print shop and the U.S. Postal Service for a 12-page newsletter to reach 1,000 or so subscribers and prospects. The same process would take far less time and cost almost nothing today!
While your passion and skills should determine what you put out there, I recommend avoiding the edgy sports opinion blogs that are everywhere. Specialize as much as possible. Great examples exist all over the internet. HitTracker is an amazing website that tracks the flight and distance of every Major League home run. Darren Heitner’s Sports Agent Blog is a tremendous resource for insiders, as is Cots Contracts. How about starting a website analyzing NFL coaching decisions? Or how weather conditions impact game outcomes and/or statistics? Everybody wins – you gain exposure and the industry gets another resource.
Internships are great for making contacts and gaining experience. However, your work may not reach the masses or have your name attached to it. With our approach, there’s no limitation on who sees it, especially if you have no problem presenting at conferences and seminars.
Although easier than breaking in, breaking out in sports presents its own challenges. I’m sure the people who run the websites mentioned above had to work long and hard. But fortunately, talented individuals with something valuable to offer now have far more control over their own future in sports. Isn’t that the way it should be?