Elan Media Solutions MD Seb Lauzier asks a few questions of anyone considering a career in sports.
A friend recently packed in her job as a primary school teacher. It seemed such a great idea – easy logistics and giving something back – but the reality was so different. She’d opened up the neat little package but inside had found a tangle of red tape and headaches.
Working in the sports industry might end up being the same for some people. I’ve been working in sports now for almost 20 years and I’ve loved almost every minute of it so this may seem odd coming from me, but here’s a quick checklist for any students (or parents of students) who might be considering a career in sports next year, or for an office-weary 30 or 40-something looking at a career change.
Money – I know it’s not all about the money but you do have to pay the bills, and because so many people are queuing up to work in sports event management, sports governing body administration, broadcasting, marketing, media, sponsorship etc, it is very competitive. Usually that means companies can afford to pay modest salaries for the first few years because they’re spoiled for choice. Finishing up at uni in 1999, I was offered a job with one channel for the grand sum of £6,000 a year. I couldn’t take it because I didn’t have someone willing to subsidise me for a year or two. If you’re keen, a 4-6 week summer internship is still the best route in and showing willing by doing it for very little still works best. If you can negotiate some travel expenses and pocket money, even better.
Weekends – Are you willing to work 20 weekends a year? Lots of people cherish their weekends and like spending family time, especially once they have children and even grandchildren. This year I’ll have worked about 25 weekends which isn’t uncommon and it’s become part of our family life. That in itself might not be for everyone and it’s worth thinking about. Also, depending on who you work for, don’t assume that you get those days back, and especially if you work as a freelance sports journalist.
The magic of sport – Finally, what kind of sports fan are you? Because here’s the thing.. if you really love watching and experiencing sport – the greenness of the pitch, the tribalism of being a fan, the songs, the buzz of match day – you may lose some of that working on the ‘other side’. For some people working inside sport, it’s difficult to ever watch and experience it like a fan again. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself more switched onto how they’re operating their LED boards or what content they’re pumping through the big screens, than the game itself.
So ask yourself: am I willing to work weekends, can I wait before earning the big bucks and am I willing to lose a bit of the innocent magic that comes from just being a sports fan? If it’s yes to all three, crack on.