Sports manager profession: 6 trajectories on the path to success

The sports industry in Russia appeared relatively recently, which is why the profession of “sports manager” is quite young. And this is the profession of the “umbrella” type, as, for example, in the case of medicine, when we consider the profession of “doctor” (child or adult doctor, which direction, what functions, etc.).

Alexey Filippov / RIA Novosti

In order to determine the features of the “sports manager” profession, a number of important details and nuances need to be clarified:

  • what are the sports organizations where sports managers work (sports federation, professional league or club, competition management, fitness club, sports facility, etc.);
  • what level of management (head of organization or structural subdivisions, project manager or line manager, etc.);
  • what functions the sports manager performs (works with sponsors or fans, marketing or PR, organizing events or working directly with clients, etc.).

This profession is relatively young, very versatile and, of course, promising. The labor market in the sports industry is still being formed, but a real need already exists, and there are several directions and development trajectories, where professional competencies of sports managers will be in demand in the coming years. Let’s try to formulate six “leaders”.

1. In professional sports, these sports managers will be at a “special price”, who work directly with the main consumers of the main product of sports industry – sports event. In the Development strategy for physical culture and sports in the Russian Federation for the period until 2030, the task is to make sports industry commercially attractive increase substantially commercial revenues of sports organizations. And this is impossible without effective and successful work with sponsors and partners, spectators and fans, as well as various media. Therefore, it is extremely important to have in each sports organization sports managers who know how to work with these consumers of any sporting event.

2. The sports industry should have a large number of diverse events where you can earn money. This is especially true now, taking into account certain international restrictions for Russian sports.

Therefore, today there will be a great demand for sports managers who know how to organize and conduct sporting events of different levels and scale: individual tournaments and competition series (league format, grand prix and cups), various marathons, cycling, mixed-race tournaments of martial arts, cross-country skiing, triathlons, etc. There should be plenty of such events: all-Russian, regional, city competitions, corporate tournaments, mass competitions, and so on.

It is important to make sure that spectators are interested, feel comfortable and safe, and business representatives (sponsors, partners and advertisers) are commercially advantageous. And here sports managers of a good level are definitely needed.

3. In Russia today, the club system in different sports is gradually developing. Sports clubs should be at every school and university, in enterprises and at the place of residence. Club system cannot be built correctly and quickly without the interest of private investors – both large and small ones. Already today, we face constant appearance of private sports clubs and schools, academies, centers and boarding schools for different sports, from football, hockey, basketball to figure skating, athletics and skating. Therefore, this professional  trajectory will be in great demand, since the owners of these private clubs and sports schools will need competent sports managers in large numbers.

4. The domestic fitness industry has long passed this path of development. In Russia today, according to official statistics, there are more than 8 thousand fitness clubs. But the need for people to exercise regularly and comfortably is still growing, and therefore today in the fitness industry small forms of entrepreneurship come to the fore. These include small fitness centers and fitness studios, increasing offers for various kinds of online programs and training. This is another very promising direction for the development of the sports manager profession.

5. To work successfully and efficiently with customers and consumers of various products of the sports industry, good sports marketers are needed who can come up with a new product, then “pack” it beautifully, then promote it competently to a potential consumer and sell it eventually. Also sports marketing needs good analysts who study the market and can show competitive advantages of their product, know how to work with different target audiences. I am sure that no sports organization will refuse today from these kinds of sports managers specializing in sports marketing.

6. And a completely new direction of sports management and  “sports manager” profession is personal management of professional athlete. Abroad, this direction of the profession has already been developing for a long time, but so far, we are only taking the first and timid steps. Russia has a lot of famous and popular successful athletes, that should obtain their personal managers for development and promotion of their own brand, as well as its subsequent commercialization. Many Russian sports stars may well create their own private sports club under their own brand or their own sporting event, given the great popularity among their fans.

We only need to help our successful athletes in this regard. Hopefully, that trajectory of the manager of a professional athlete will develop in Russia.

All these new trajectories of the development of the profession “sports manager” are focus of orientation for the Faculty of Sports Industry of Synergy University, which celebrates this year the 25th anniversary of the beginning of training sports managers. Russia is a great sports power, we have a plenty of world-class sports heroes and stars, which means we have to train first-class and competent sports managers.

By Vladimir Lednev, Vice President of Moscow Financial and Industrial University Synergy, Scientific Director, Faculty of Sports Industry, Head of the Department of Sports Management, Dr. Econ. sciences, professor

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