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Home  > Article

Popular Routes to Sporting Success

By Laura Gordon

Amazing career paths exist within the exciting world of professional athletics. Titles include Trainer, Agent, Coach, Journalist, to name a few.

Athletic Trainer
If it's direct contact with athletes you want, that is exactly what you get with athletic training. And we do mean contact: it gets physical. Athletic trainers may work with famous professional athletes or junior varsity high school students, and all of them are crucial to the maintenance and rehabilitation of healthy teams and individuals.

On a day-to-day basis, trainers attend all practices and games, ready to give immediate medical attention, advice, or referrals to doctors. They also rehabilitate athletes and mediate between coaches and players in determining an individual's healing process. Trainers generally have a four-year college degree with a background in anatomy, exercise physiology, nutrition, or first aid. Related jobs with more extensive prerequisites include physical therapy and sports medicine.

College or University Coach
For most die-hard athletes with a passion for their sport, coaching is the easiest way to stay involved in athletics on a very competitive level. However, coaching college athletics isn't just about getting athletes to the big game. While preparing strategies, organizing practices, and giving pep talks are certainly part of the job, there is a fair amount of administrative work involved at this level as well.

Coaching involves working closely with other personnel within the college to schedule athletic contests, develop budgets, order equipment, and maintain alumni relations. An essential part of college coaching involves recruiting high school athletes for future teams. This involves coordinating recruiting visits, scouting, and working with the college's admissions department. Colleges require that coaches have at least a four-year college degree. Useful backgrounds include physical education and psychology.

Professional Sports Agent
These are the wheelers and dealers of the industry, with smooth-talking and aggressive executives dominating the arena. Think schmoozing on the sidelines and constantly dealing with oversized egos. Agents work to ensure the best possible financial deals and endorsements for their clients, who are usually athletes, officials, or coaches. Today, athletes regularly make headlines for switching teams and increasing their already exorbitant salaries. But behind every million-dollar deal is an agent, who works as a mediator between team owners, general managers, and the client.

Agents are also responsible for endorsements, such as associating Nike's Air Jordan's with basketball star Michael Jordan or Olympic medalists with Wheaties boxes. Careers in this area require at least an undergraduate degree, though law school can be even more valuable in a world of contracts, legal problems, and tax implications. Agents often work as part of a firm, or answer directly to their client base.

Marketing Director 
This job incorporates anyone interested in marketing, promotion, or public relations. These directors work with marketing plans and ad campaigns to make professional sports teams look as attractive as possible to fans. Marketing directors sell licenses to companies and organizations to make team products- behind every team jersey, football, sweatshirt, baby romper, or shot glass is a huge marketing effort. They are also responsible for coordinating halftime entertainment, celebrity appearances, and signings.

The most important aspects of marketing directors- jobs involve working out deals with companies licensed to use the team logo, arranging relations with the press, and maintaining a positive image for the team. An undergraduate degree is required, and backgrounds in marketing, public relations, communications, or journalism are all helpful.

For journalists tired of working on that "really interesting human interest story," getting to sit on the sidelines of sports games as a required part of your job could seem more than appealing. Sports journalists may write on one specific sport, or may attend a softball game in the morning, a soccer game in the evening, and a golf tournament the next day.

Sportswriters have the privilege of watching the game from a venue's press box and usually walk away with a public relations goody bag filled with press releases, game books, biographies, and press kits. Journalists that cover the day-by-day activities of one specific team are called beat writers. These individuals generally have at least a two-year degree with backgrounds in journalism, English, public relations, or liberal arts. Clearly, you also need a real passion for sports to love this job.

Manufacturer's Representative (Sporting Goods or Equipment Company)
This job entails representing manufacturers by selling wholesale products to shops, sporting departments, schools, and teams. Any company that produces sporting equipment, supplies, accessories, machines, or clothing requires representatives to promote its products. These people are usually given a designated district in which to sell their products, and they spend their days making sales calls in person to clients, and dealing directly with buyers.

A good understanding of the product is definitely required for such a job, and a strong background in athletics can help in making comparisons and giving advice to clients. Perks of this job include flexible hours and awesome freebies. Employment prospects are excellent for those with enthusiasm and persistence, and sometimes only a high school education is required.

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