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Can't Hit a Fastball or Sing a High Note to Save Your Life? The Sports or Entertainment Biz Could Still Be For You


Given the scope of the sports and entertainment industry, it is possible to envision a job for a grad with nearly any background, but certainly some may be more likely to find widespread opportunities in the field.

 
What will likely to be more important in landing a position, is a willingness to do what it takes to get a foot in the door and then advance while gaining on-the-job experience.
 

Don't have a 90 mile-an-hour fastball? Can't sing to save your life?

Don't despair. Chances are you can still find a job in the sprawling sports and entertainment industry. Professional sports teams, theater troupes, rock bands, recording companies and movie studios employ many thousands of people who will never receive a standing ovation, make it to the Hall of Fame or take home an Emmy.

In fact, in a world where stars are often respected as much for their money-making talent as they are for their artistic or athletic abilities, showmanship demands a deep backup team of accountants, sound and video engineers, producers, directors, cosmetologists physical therapists and trainers, coaches, agents and theater and stadium managers, marketers, and food service workers, to name but some of the players in this high-visibility field.

In 2002, the most recent year for which government statistics were available, the U.S. Department of Labor reported athletes, coaches and umpires numbered about 158,000 nationwide. That same year, the department lists:

  •  28,000 television, video and motion picture operators;
  • about 139,000 actors, producers, and directors;
  • 215,000 musicians, singers, and related workers;
  • approximately 37,000 professional dancers and choreographers.

Overall, according to federal statistics, the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry provided about 1.8 million jobs in 2002. Experts forecast growth in this sector will be faster than average growth for all industries, thanks to more leisure time, rising incomes and access to live venues as well as developing technologies such as high-speed bandwidth and HDTV.

Because of the sheer size of this industry category, it is difficult to determine the number of positions that require a bachelor's degree, but it is a given that many business, marketing, management professionals are among the sports and entertainment ranks. And increasingly, computer and software engineers are finding themselves to be most valuable players, delivering fans access to the stars, while at the same time capturing valuable demographic information for their marketing departments.

Grads looking to enter the back office of a pro team, stadium or production company should expect to work sometimes erratic hours, since most events take place outside the 9-5, Monday through Friday time frame. Some jobs - accounting and finance - will be a bit more predictable, while others - writing, production, marketing - will peak come show time or depending on the season.

It makes sense that an off-Broadway show or pro team may require extensive travel, while managing a concert hall or ballpark is apt to keep an executive close to home.

Given the scope of the sports and entertainment industry, it is possible to envision a job for a grad with nearly any background, but certainly some may be more likely to find widespread opportunities. What will likely to be more important in landing a position, is a willingness to do what it takes to get a foot in the door and then advance while gaining on-the-job experience. Many will find this an industry where one can meld business and personal interests, so competition for jobs is apt to be strong.

For grads, it may be helpful to point out any strong amateur standing that could show insights into business issues affecting a particular sport or entertainment genre. A high-ranked amateur golfer is more likely to land a spot with the LPGA than someone who can't tell a three iron from a sand wedge. Internships and summer jobs can also be helpful ways to beef up your resume.

To enter the business side of sports and entertainment, useful majors would include business, finance, sports marketing, physical education, and database administration and computer and software engineering. Athletes and performers may do it for love, but it helps to be surrounded by a team that can drive profits to the bottom line.

English, theater, music, history, philosophy, fine arts, graphic arts, photography and marketing majors are likely to find opportunities in creative areas that support either content development or marketing efforts for a team or venue.

Those with a background in sports medicine, speech and physical therapy, nutrition and other medical disciplines are also needed to work with artists and athletes to keep them healthy and assist as they recover from injuries. 

Your mother may not see your name when the credits roll at the end of a movie, but a career in sports and entertainment will give you a business reason to enjoy a sport or hobby when otherwise you should be "at work." You'll be surrounded by creative and talented colleagues and on a track that will likely put you front row at some outstanding performances while you're still on the clock.







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