I have always thought the good has outweighed the bad when it comes to working in sports. That is not to say there is no downside. There is. So, I made a list and tried to come up with five reasons on each half of a blank page of why you should work or not work in the sports administration business.
Here is the list I came up with this morning:
Why Work in Sports?
1. Realize a Dream — I never wanted to argue in court before a judge. I ruled out being a doctor as a kid when the site of blood made me want to faint and being a fireman was for some of the other kids. However, playing first base for the Chicago Cubs or just as good working as a business leader in sports? Sign me up.
2. Lasting Friendships — To this day, I continue to speak and see friends I have met from the first day I began working in this business more than 20 years ago. For anyone that has made sports administration a career, you invest a tremendous amount if time and energy around preparing, selling and promoting the events. You must enjoy the people you are working for and alongside. I always have and I am grateful.
3. Live Your Passion — I have had a passion for sports, any sport, since I was a kid growing up in the north side of Chicago. Any of my long-time friends and family will tell you that. It has been a passion and I have always felt at home on the field, rink, court — you name it. Follow your heart and you will never go wrong. Always.
4. Be a Part of History — I have seen a perfect game, no-hitters, 3,00th hit, 300 career wins. I have been to the Stanley Cup finals, worked the World Series, been on the field for a Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks game. I have worked college basketball, baseball and volleyball, professional tennis too. They all add up to terrific memories and some of the events people still stop me and talk about to this day. —- How did Paul Kariya get off the ice and come back from a separated shoulder in Game Six of the Stanley Cup and nail the goal to beat the Devils?
5. Winning a Ring — Missed it by that much — twice now. As part of the Angels front office in 1986 and then again with the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks in 2003. How does one get one pitch away form the World Series and also get to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup and come away with naked fingers? There has to be one more run in it. Lakers and Yankee front office employees are spoiled. Others are lucky enough to have one. It is something special for anyone that has made the journey with a team.
Five Reasons Not to Work In Sports
During my Dodgers interview, Fred Claire asked me if I liked to Golf. "Sure!" I said. I was then advised to play as much as I could before I was hired. There would be no time for golf.
1. Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice — Sports is not a 9-5 job. If you want this, look into banking. For a baseball game that begins at 7:00 p.m., employees are at work by 9:00 or 9:30 and do not get home often until 11 p.m. or later. Multiple that times 162 games (plus pre-and post season commitments and your friends and family do not see you often. Holidays (fourth of July for example) mean work, not BBQ. Understand the commitment before you jump in.
2. Your Hard Work Does Not = Wins and Losses — You could put in 20 hours a day and you have no bearing if the team wins or loses. If you want to feel that you control your destiny more. Go into sales. You will be judged by the number of new sales you have closed. No matter how good of a job you do, remember it is abut the fans (the paying customers). They come to see the players and enjoy the game. You are just a small piece of the reality show called sports.
3. Ownership Change Often Means Change in Staff — Everybody likes to have their “guy” or their “gal” working for them. When there’s a change in ownership, that often equals change to the front office makeup of the leaders running the business. The higher up you are, the more vulnerable you become when this happens. It happened to me and countless others who have been impacted when the keys to the kingdom change hands. Get used to it.
4. Ready to Change Cities/And Teams To Move Up — The sports business is a transient place. A few folks start and end their careers with the same company. When I joined the Dodgers, employees had worked for the O’Malley family for 30 years. Since Peter sold the team, I can think of only two employees that have been with the team from the “old school.” One name you know, the other name you probably do not. Billy DeLury, who has been with the team since the Brooklyn days, was the traveling secretary for a looooong time. The other person? Just a broadcaster by the name of Vin Scully. Look at a successful sports executive and they have moved around town or moved across the country. It is often what it takes to move up the ladder of sports success.
5. The Competition is Fierce — Never get too full of your accomplishments because your boss probably just received a resume today from a person who is willing and ready to do your job tomorrow. Based on the visibility and impact sports has had on our culture, the opportunity to work in the business is still a dream for countless folks who want your job. One known open position often floods a hiring manager with hundreds of qualified applications. …and a few more that have no business applying.
That’s my Top 10 reasons to work or not to work in sports. As I said at the beginning, the positive has always outweighed the negative. Did I miss something or hit the nail on the head? Leave a comment and let me know.
For those of you celebrating, happy Father’s Day.