Over the last hundred years, sports have evolved from a form of entertainment to a way of life for many. Sports teams and athletes develop a solid, often loyal, following.
If you love watching sports, exploring big, creative ideas, and capturing trends quickly, then a role in Sports Marketing might be for you. Sports teams use Sports Marketing to build their reputation and promote sporting events to fans. Meanwhile, brands use it to connect with potential customers through their shared love of sports.
Stay tuned to read about what a sports marketer is, its degrees/curriculum available, and its job outlook.
Overview of Sports Marketing Degrees
A sports marketing degree opens wide-ranging opportunities and roles for students. They can be in sales, marketing, or public relations. This degree equips students with best industry practices to help them craft marketing strategies that reflect the changing trends and markets in the sports world. A degree in sports marketing can be completed in 2-4 years. Typically 2 years for a Master’s degree and 4 for a Bachelor’s degree.
What You’ll Learn
Differences Between Sports Marketing and Sports Management
Although both sports marketing and sports management aim to create the best experiences for fans and some of their responsibilities overlap, they are not the same.
Sports marketing focuses on creating marketing strategies and campaigns promoting the teams, athletes, and games, while sports management focuses on the day-to-day operations of running a sports team. Sports marketing aims to connect the team and athletes to the fans and better engage with them through messaging, publicity, and promotions. Sports marketing efforts are external (meaning audiences see their work), and the job offers more opportunities to collaborate with company brands and advertisers.
Meanwhile, sports management aims to create a successful team by spearheading the administrative and leadership duties needed to run the team. It deals with internal affairs like managing the team budget and overseeing the personnel, including athletes, coaches, and staff. Someone in sports management can work in various departments in a sports franchise, including finance, operations, or even front-office roles like a General Manager.
Sports marketing and sports management are both growing fields where you can find an exciting and fulfilling career. What you choose now depends on your interests. Sports Marketing is for you if you are interested in brainstorming creative marketing ideas and planning them from start to finish. If you are more business-minded and like being in leadership roles, Sports Management may be for you.
Why are Sports Marketers Important?
The sports industry wouldn’t be as successful as it is now without sports marketing. Sports teams can pull off riveting games, recruit iconic athletes, and secure intense emotional investment from fans with the help of great funding from ticket sales and sponsorships.
However, the sports industry continues to be fiercely competitive. Now more than ever, sports teams and athletes need to be more creative in increasing their publicity and promoting their games. Sports Marketers aim to do just that. Specifically, Sports Marketers contribute to the success of teams and athletes through the following:
- Foster awareness for the Team and Athletes
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with advertisements, sports marketers have the crucial task of finding creative ways to get a team’s message across and continue to capture the hearts of fans.
This is the most important role of a sports marketer. By building and maintaining a team’s reputation, they are more likely to generate more ticket and merchandise sales and attract sponsorships.
- Promote games and increase ticket sales
Ticket sales continue to be the number one source of income for sports teams and organizations. Statista projects that sports events have an annual growth rate of 3.49% and will be a $32 billion industry by 2027. Sports teams need to stand out to capture this market and attract sports attendees.
A Sports Marketer spearheads full-blown marketing campaigns analyzing the product, target audience, and messaging. Measuring campaign performance is also important. The sports landscape is constantly changing. Successful sports marketers adapt and take advantage of new opportunities.
- Secure Sponsorships from Brands and Patrons
Sponsorships are the second essential source of income for sports teams and athletes. With the increasing emphasis on advertising in digital media, especially social media, more companies are seeking reputable influencers to promote their brand. Teams and athletes, with their natural following, can succeed in this regard. Securing sponsorships and brand deals also helps augment the team and athletes’ publicity. Sports marketers find and negotiate these sponsorship contracts.
- Capture trends to create innovative Media and Advertising Opportunities
Sports Marketers stay on current trends to improve fan engagement and attract new sponsors. They always need to conceptualize big and innovative ideas to make their marketing campaigns memorable. If they are not memorable, they’d be considered ineffective and a waste of resources.
- Conceptualize merchandising opportunities
Merchandise sales are a reliable supplemental source of revenue for teams and athletes. Sports marketers have the responsibility to come up with perfect merchandise fans will love. This includes studying product trends, gathering consumer insights, and planning needed logistics.
Field & Career Placement
A Sports Marketing degree opens many possibilities for students to pursue after graduation. This degree prepares them for dynamic jobs in various fields within the world of sports, such as:
- Public Relations
- Sales and Advertising
- Event and Facilities Management
- Market Research
- Hospitality Management
Students with this degree will most likely pursue roles as the following:
- Sales Managers
- Marketing Director
- Marketing Consultant (at a Sports Consultancy firm)
- Public Relations Director
- Account Executive
- Project/Event Manager (for games and other events)
- Ticketing Director
- Market Researcher
Sports Marketers are hired by professional and school-level sports teams (collegiate and high school), amateur sports clubs, sports councils/organizations, and sports consultancy firms.
What is A Sports Marketer?
Sports marketers can benefit from joining various marketing organizations to form credibility and receive certificates. Here are examples they can join:
Sports Marketers support the income goals of sports teams and organizations by increasing fan involvement, promoting games and profit-generating events, and building relationships with sponsors.
They are well-adept with different marketing techniques such as traditional advertising (television ads, billboards, posters), and digital advertising (social media ads, and search engine optimizations or SEO).
Specifically, a sports marketer’s responsibilities include the following:
- Collaborating with team leaders (i.e., General Managers) and key stakeholders (possible major sponsors) in crafting brand messaging and strategy that supports team goals and enhances good publicity
- Managing marketing projects and coordinating with internal departments to ensure success in the execution
- Conducting market research and creatively incorporating industry trends into marketing strategy
- Developing a solid marketing plan and strategy. Defining key performance indicators and regularly evaluating marketing efforts to align with goals.
- Establishing a financial plan for marketing efforts. Monitoring projects ensuring they don’t exceed the budget.
- Reaching out and negotiating brand deals with company sponsors
- Building relationships with patron sponsors
- Ensures sponsorship agreements are honored in sporting events and merchandise (e.g., company logos are posted on agreed platforms, etc.)
- Generating fundraising projects such as merchandise (e.g., t-shirts, water bottles, etc.)
To be a successful sports marketer, one must excel in leading and organizing multiple projects simultaneously. They can see both the big picture and small details of their strategy, ensuring that it fits the teams’ goals. Since marketing is a very dynamic field, they are quick thinkers and innovators.
What are the Benefits of an Online Degree in Sports Marketing?
The main benefit of an online degree in Sports Marketing is that students can control their learning and schedules. Without the physical commitment required by traditional degrees, the online setup allows anyone (whether having a full-time/part-time job or other endeavors) to earn their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Sports Marketing.
This arrangement also makes it accessible for everyone to achieve a degree in any of their preferred institutions. Aside from being more affordable than on-campus programs, online degrees take out the need to relocate to a different country or state in completing the program. Students can finish their courses from anywhere in the world.
Faculty experts carefully design online programs to suit the needs of online students. They provide an extensive, flexible, and personalized curriculum with interactive and student-centric coursework to keep students engaged. Since experienced practitioners often teach these programs in the field, students are also exposed to many enriching case studies and real-world applications. To expound, here are the benefits of earning a degree in sports marketing online:
Flexibility and Adaptability
Pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree on campus can be out of reach to many adults with many commitments in work and family. But with online programs, students are not forced on a fixed schedule so they can arrange their studies whenever most convenient to them.
Additionally, they save more time not having to commute to their schools. So long as they have a reliable internet connection, students can progress towards their degree. Along with 24/7 access to their modules, online learners may even be able to complete their degrees faster than those in a traditional curriculum.
Personalized Learning Journey
Everybody has their way of learning. There are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing learners (many have a varying mixture of the three).
Online programs are designed to cater to every kind of learner by giving varying modes of coursework and lectures (slideshow presentations, textbook materials, recorded lectures, peer discussions, and so on). With this, students can customize their learning environment depending on their learning style so they can maximize their courses. Students can grasp concepts more quickly and can revisit challenging modules as much as they like.
Better Accessibility and Affordability
Online programs are often much cheaper than on-campus classes. This is because students are only paying for the courses themselves, and not any more additional fees required by institutions like gym and clinic amenities, as well as, maintenance and staff. Moreover, students no longer incur traditionally implied expenses in transferring to a college campus such as housing, meals, or commuting.
International students can also now take classes from world experts in various classes without having to uproot their lives and move to another country.
Without having fixed schedules for attending classes and working on schoolwork, students are the masters of their destinies in online learning. They take more responsibility for completing the modules, scheduling their study sessions, and meeting deadlines. They are their manager and motivator. With this, they improve their, self-mastery, organizational, and time management skills.
Moreover, students can develop their leadership and communication skills by having to proactively reach out and collaborate with professors and peers in completing their team projects. In a virtual setting, teamwork is harder to muster. This forces students to be creative.
Enriched Global Mindset
In an online setting, students get to interact with fellow learners and professors from different parts of the world which can widen their global outlook. They are exposed to many varying cultures, backgrounds, opinions, and even languages! Students can deepen their understanding of the world beyond the context of their local communities. This can prepare them in becoming global citizens who can collaborate with anyone from around the world.
What Will I Learn in a Sports Marketing Program?
Length of Programs
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||30 credits||1 – 2 years|
There are two ways students complete a Sports Marketing program – either as a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree.
Most sports marketing degrees can be completed in 1-4 years (1-2 years for Master’s and 4-5 years for a Bachelor’s) Students can expect to take about 30-40 (for a Master’s) to 120 credits (for a Bachelor’s).
Most institutions offer credit subjects on a semestral basis. In a Master’s program, students can complete all credits in 3-4 semesters, while those pursuing a Bachelor’s degree can take 8 semesters.
Moreover, there are available accelerated programs helping students to earn their Masters in one year. They can also graduate early by transferring credits. Liberty University’s Masters in Sports Marketing and Media allows this.
A sports marketing degree is tailored to provide students with a fundamental grasp of marketing, media, and business principles applicable to their future careers. They can build solid foundations as to how marketing is integrated into the daily operations of sports teams and organizations.
By the end of the program, students learn to navigate the ever-changing sports world so they can develop their marketing strategies for sports organizations based on the market and their expertise.
As sports marketing majors, students will cover similar topics as other types of marketing programs, but they will also encounter courses curated for sports, including sports law and ethics, sports in contemporary society, sports media advertising, and sales.At the end of the program, students often undertake internship opportunities to deepen their understanding and application of sports marketing concepts.
Here are some courses sports marketing students take throughout the program:
|Sports Marketing||Students learn how companies plan, execute, and measure marketing strategies in the sports context. The course will examine the effectiveness of marketing tactics used by existing sports teams and leagues. It will also expand on niche features and perspectives of marketing in sports.|
|Business and Market Strategy in Sports||In the course, students are introduced to distinctive business challenges in the sports industry. Students better understand what it takes to develop a sports product, study the target market, and deliver concrete messaging to the public. Students will also study the economic impacts of sports in society.|
|Brand Management||Students gain a greater appreciation of brand management as it relates to marketing strategy. They will study what it takes to build sustainable brands and how they can apply these concepts to building reputation and fan loyalty in sports.|
|Sports Economics and Finance||This course provides a fundamental grasp of economic principles and financial management specific to sports. Sports is a multi-billion dollar industry and it is important for students to understand and apply key economic and financial concepts in the decision-making process of big leagues and companies.|
|Sales in Sports||Students learn practical and best industry sales techniques, theories, and frameworks required to form sound strategies in account management.|
They will also examine relationship dynamics in a usual sports organization to see where sales techniques can be applied (most especially when sports teams rely on sponsors and ticketing sales for funding).
Standard Entrance Requirements to Enroll
Bachelors Degree for Master’s
If the student is planning to pursue a Master’s Program in Sports Marketing, most institutions accept applicants from various undergraduate degrees. But the Bachelor’s degrees more suitable for this path are the following:
- Sports Marketing
- Sports Management
- Business Administration
Any Business degrees work as well, as many concepts overlap with marketing.
Application Process / Timeline / Cost
Enrolling in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Sports Marketing has a similar process to other programs.
Applying takes time. Application deadlines for Bachelor’s degrees usually fall between November to March, while Masters degrees depend on the institution. It is recommended to start planning your timeline as early as 18 months before you want to start classes.
For a Bachelor’s degree, applicants must possess a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) from an accredited school. They score a GPA of at least 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale and have an average or higher SAT score (1060 or above) or ACT Score (20 or above). While not required, applicants can take advantage of taking early courses in business, management, and economics.
A Masters Degree, on the other hand, has a slightly stricter process. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher from their Bachelor’s Degree. If accepted with a GPA lower than 3.0, they are taken as provisionary students and experience firmer evaluations from professors until a certain period.
Bachelor programs usually require applicants to submit their high school transcripts, while Masters are required to submit their GRE (which is expounded below). Both Bachelor and Master applicants are also often required three letters of recommendation from professors, administrators, or peers/managers (for Masters).
Many Bachelor programs ask for an applicant’s essay. What applicants write in their essays varies from personal experiences, student highlights, or aspired career trajectories. Resumes are usually optional. However, most Master’s applicants are required to submit an essay and a resume.
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are only applicable for Master’s programs. Some institutions consider it a mandatory application requirement, while others do not. This requirement will depend on what school students want to pursue their Master’s program in.
What is the Career Outlook for Sports Marketers?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing manager roles are expected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the 5% average of other occupations. Around 35, 300 openings for advertising, promotions, and marketing positions are projected each year, which has been a decade-long trend.
More than that, the sports industry continues to be growing with over 40% projected growth in the coming years. According to Deloitte, this is due to an influx of money in the industry, shifting power dynamics in collegiate sports, and greater use of the internet and emerging technologies.
The median pay for a Marketing role is $133,380 annually. However, this can vary in the field of sports depending on the scope of responsibilities, institution, and location.
Potential Career Paths/Job Titles
A student’s education and interests decide where in sports marketing they’d like to focus their career. Additionally, skills in sports marketing are transferable so it is easy for one to switch roles. Specifically, potential career paths and job titles in sports marketing are the following:
- Sales and Marketing Manager: leads the sales and marketing strategies often securing brand deals, and sponsorships.
- Public Relations Director: builds and maintains relationships with key stakeholders of a sports team. They also help increase good publicity around the team.
- Events Manager: Arranges every aspect of a sporting event and ensures a smooth flow of operations and ticket sales.
- Marketing Consultant in a Sports Marketing Agency like Octagon: help attract deals for signed athletes