Sports and competition go hand in hand, but the competition isn’t contained to the playing field; there’s a lot of competition for sports-related jobs, too. That’s understandable, given that it’s an exciting field with many different opportunities.
Job growth in sports-related fields is twice as fast as the overall job market, according to CareerBuilder. The number of sports-related jobs has increased by as much as 39 percent in some sectors. Market research analysts, event planners, agents and business managers, and operations managers have seen some of the highest growth.1
Those looking for a career in sports management need to stand out from the crowd, and a master’s degree in sports management could provide that competitive edge.
American University offers an online Master of Science in Sports Analytics and Management. An advisory council of sports-industry professionals helped shaped the curriculum to ensure that graduates are fully prepared for the career field.
Career Insight from a Pro
Ryan Kuehl, a former professional football player and American University graduate, sits on the advisory council for the online Master of Science in Sports Analytics and Management.
Kuehl played for 12 years and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. He was one of the first athletes to sign an endorsement deal with Under Armour, and now works for the company as Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing.
With an extensive background in the industry, Kuehl knows how challenging the sports world can be.
“The industry is ultra competitive,” he says. “That's why graduates need a differentiator. To me, a graduate degree is a great place to start. That differentiator can decide whether you get in the door or not.”
Kuehl, who received an MBA from American University in 1999, believes graduate-level work cultivates the kind of critical thinking that the sports world is missing.
“At American University, there were students from all over the world. You walk into a classroom with one set of beliefs or thoughts, and through lectures, through discussions, through case studies and working together, you find yourself morphing and growing over time,” he says.
“During graduate work, you are expected to question things, think for yourself, and come up with new ideas and approaches. The sports world can use new approaches.”
RYAN KUEHL: The thing I value most about having come through the AU program is the wide spectrum of opinions that were in the classroom. There are students here from all over the world, from all of the different walks of life. And you walk into a classroom with one set of beliefs or thoughts. And through lectures, through discussions, through case studies and working together, you find yourself over time-- your opinions morphing and growing and maturing.
And that I attribute a lot to my experience here, because when you get out into the real world and you start to try to build consensus around different thoughts or ideas that you may have, that ability to sort of check yourself and allow new opinions to come in to help you create the idea or make the idea better is a valuable skill to have. And it happens organically over time and as you get older. But to me, AU and my experience here seemed to accelerate that process.
The industry is ultra-competitive to begin with. And so the differentiator can be that whether you get in the door or not or whether you get the job or not. To me, graduate degrees are a great way to start.
In my opinion, graduate degrees, more so than undergraduate degrees, they teach you-- they at least taught me when I did mine taught me how to critically think and not just take what's presented on its face but actually dig in and say, what are they missing? Actually try to figure out. And try to figure out, what is the group missing?
Once you get into the graduate-level world, to me, I think you're expected to question things and think for yourself and come up with new ideas and a new approach to certain aspects of an industry or a challenge. And Lord knows the sports world could use new approaches. So to me, it's a really easy way to connect the dots.
The Vital Role of the Advisory Council
The advisory council is made up of former American University graduates and industry professionals from companies and organizations including Under Armour, the NBA, ESPN, U.S. Soccer Foundation, NFL Players Association, and Nike.
Bringing an insider’s view of the sports industry, they can identify skills that are in demand. The university uses this insight to shape classes and select faculty to provide the most relevant and up-to-date education.
Emerging technologies, for example, are shaping the sports world, but few programs include this component in its curriculum. Using input from the advisory council, American University educates students in areas like social media, interactive spectatorships, mobile sports, fantasy sports, e-gaming, performance data analytics, and virtual reality.
The advisory council also identifies skills that employers want but have a hard time finding in current applicants. The university has incorporated many of these skills, which include proficiency in communication, teamwork, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, problem solving, and locating and evaluating information from multiple sources into the core courses.
Mastering Sports Management
At American University, students learn a broad range of sports management skills, but are also tasked with developing analytical skills and understanding evaluative technologies.
In today’s world, sports managers rely on data. Graduates must know how to break down numbers, understand what they mean to an organization, and then know how to use that information to make improvements.
With the support and guidance of its advisory council, the online Master of Science in Sports Analytics and Management program at American University provides students with specialized skills to thrive in the competitive sports arena.
1 CareerBuilder. 22 of the Fastest Growing Sports Jobs. http://advice.careerbuilder.com/posts/twenty-two-of-the-fastest-growing-sports-jobs
To learn more about American University’s online MS in Sports Analytics and Management, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.