Sports Careers Outlook
The greatest number of job opportunities exists with professional teams. At the highest male professional level, there are 32 National Football League franchises, 30 Major League Baseball franchises, 30 National Basketball Association franchises, 30 National Hockey League franchises, and 13 Major League Soccer franchises. The Women’s National Basketball Association has 14 franchises. The Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that employment for athletes, coaches, umpires and referees, and related jobs will grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014. The growth will be driven by increasing interest in sports and the retirement of baby boomers, expected to spend much time participating and watching sports. Growing interest in fitness among amateurs will create demand for qualified coaches and trainers. Expansion of school athletic programs will also contribute to job growth.
The number of professional teams, in all sports, is relatively stable. This means, however, that the number of jobs is also relatively stable. Specifically sports-related jobs, such as managers, coaches, umpires, and referees, will open only as people retire or otherwise leave the profession. Some jobs will emerge with the birth of expansion teams, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, which joined professional baseball in 1998, and the less common advent of new leagues or sports, such as the new women’s basketball and softball leagues.
For occupations that are also related to other fields, such as journalists, publicists, business managers, and attorneys, there is some movement of trained individuals into and out of the sports sector. The competition for all these jobs is fairly keen. The number of people interested in working in sports in any capacity far exceeds the number of openings.
Competition for a job as a professional athlete is much tougher. In college football, for example, there are almost 200 Division I football teams and countless other teams in other divisions, but only 32 American professional football teams in the National Football League. Out of all of the college athletes who wish to make the pros, few will be chosen. Of those chosen, many will not last the season; others will not play for more than a couple of years. Few professional football players are able to make a career of the sport. The same is true for other sports as well. Golf, tennis, and other individual sports enable professionals to play at the international level; however, the financial incentive for players who do not win tournaments is limited. Only a few players will earn the large incomes of athletes on the level of Maria Sharapova, Derek Jeter, or Dwayne Wade.
As the field of technology grows, so does its application in the sports industry. Programmers are needed to improve computer-based timing equipment while other workers in sports technology design more aerodynamic bicycles and create swimming pools with minimal wave interference. Clothing and fabric designers design athletic wear that allows freedom of movement, low water or air resistance, or support for the feet.
Sports medicine is a relatively new addition to the industry and has good growth potential. Sports doctors and surgeons are beginning to specialize in the injuries particular to athletes, and more and more teams and athletes are employing massage and physical therapists, chiropractors and kinesiologists, sports nutritionists, and skilled trainers. In addition, there has been a recent boom in written information on health and sports medicine, including many books and magazines that focus specifically on these issues.
For More Information:
- Amateur Athletic Union
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- Shape America
- Sporting & Fitness Industry Association
- Women’s Sports Foundation
Related Career Fields:
Careers in Sports:
- Aerobics Instructors and Fitness Trainers
- Golf Course Superintendents
- Groundsmanagers and Groundskeepers
- Professional Athletes—Individual
- Professional Athletes—Team
- Recreation Workers
- Sports Broadcasters and Announcers
- Sports Equipment Managers
- Sports Executives
- Sports Facility Designers
- Sports Facility Managers
- Sports Instructors and Coaches
- Sports Physicians
- Sports Psychologists
- Sports Publicists
- Sports Scouts
- Sports Trainers
- Stadium Ushers and Vendors
- Umpires and Referees