Our first exposure to sports is usually to choose up teams and play. From our earliest memories, the purpose of being at a sporting event is to play. And for the less-athletic people of the world, that purpose evaporates by the end of elementary school, and one-time vacant-lot all-stars are in the stands, relegated to a supporting role.
But for those who have a real thirst for sports, a desire to be engrossed in them, the lack of a Olympian’s physique doesn’t have to keep them away. The first thing to realize is that it’s more than the players on the floor and the coaches on the bench who are making a sporting event take place. One of the easiest ways to notice all the other careers in the sports world is to watch high profile sporting events. Viewers of the NCAA Tournament 2014 will notice an unusual number of tables behind the benches and scorer’s table, all littered with papers, laptops, and tablets.
Who are those mysterious people with the best seats in the house? They are the sportswriters, there in hopes of catching that buzzer-beater or upset for their viewers and readers located four states away.
How did they get there? Obviously, the Big Dance is a plum assignment among plum assignments, but there are several steps most of those journalists took to get where they are, and they include far more than getting a journalism degree and knowing how to pronounce “Joaquin Andujar.” It’s about getting involved and getting connected, and getting that inside information that will connect you with the jobs no one hears about.
How did the game even happen? Who created the schedules that built RPI’s? Who made the arrangements for a home-and-home series against Tricycle U? Each of the schools represented has an athletics administration that was behind the procurement of the coaches, the creation of schedules, the generation of sponsorship, and the oversight of city-university deals for sports venues. Those administrators are probably at the game, too, in the hot-shot seats hoping for a good outcome from their decisions.
Back on campus, there are also compliance officers who make sure that the many complex rules of college athletics are being followed. Most athletic departments also have academic services who hire and manage tutors to help their players keep up with classes during their extensive travel for competitions.
If you’ve got a green thumb, you can get into the sports “field” as well. While many events take place on artificial turf these days, there is still plenty of live grass underfoot as soccer, baseball, softball, rugby, field hockey, golf, and many more sports take the field. If blacktop and highway materials are more your thing, bear in mind that somebody has to fix the potholes at Daytona.
The key things to keep in mind with sports careers are these: Not everybody is a player or a coach, and the same strategies that land you jobs in other areas will land you jobs in sports. That means getting the skills of the trade, of course, but also goes with the usual steps of getting experience, creating connections, and carving out an identity for yourself that makes you stand apart from everybody else with the same framed piece of parchment.
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