Teaching the Business of Sport Management

A new program prepares students for careers in the executive suites

Think it will be cool to work for your favorite team or athlete and help them manage their business interests or plan the marketing for sports events?  If you do, the University of Missouri’s School of Natural Resources has cooked up a deal for you.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has offered its first classes focused on sport management which have been designed to help graduates enter the billion-dollar world of sports business.  The department has already enrolled more than 200 students for the program and that may double in a year.  Graduate courses will be offered by 2013.

Nick Watanabe.

“The days of thinking that sports are just games are gone, growth of the sport industry has been tremendous in the last decade” Nick Watanabe, PRT assistant professor, said.  “Sports provide serious entertainment and are a big business in this country.  Sports managers are crucial to ensuring that players, fans, coaches and financial backers coexist peacefully.  Managers must know enough about the game and the characteristics of its fans to attract an audience or participants.  An interdisciplinary field, sports management encompasses elements of economics, accounting, marketing, psychology, law and communications.”

The sports industry has grown dramatically in the past decade and promises to continue to expand, Watanabe said.   “In the United States, sports-related businesses are a multi-billion dollar enterprise, ranking in the top fifteen industries in the nation,” he said.  “The Department of Labor predicts employment opportunities in the field will grow 15 to 23 percent during the next decade.”

Matching Skills to the Market

While there will be opportunities for throwing balls and other fun activities outside of class, the course emphasis will be on developing those cold and hard skills needed to be successful in any business – marketing, communications, negotiations, management and legal issues.  This education will allow graduates to transfer their skills into any one of the growing parts of sports – from marketing and promotions, sports information, sporting goods, sports law, arena management,governance, international sport, technology in sport, and interscholastic athletic administration, to event management and community relations.

Because of its strengths in recreation, tourism, municipal programs, wellness and sports such as sport fishing and shooting, the MU program will probably build a national niche in participatory and recreational sports management, while still maintaining strong ties and relations with professional and collegiate sport organizations, Watanabe continued.

While baseball, basketball and football get the majority of attention, lesser known projects like the Senior and Show-Me State Games which are held throughout central Missouri in the summer.  Professional sports managers with knowledge, skills and experience are critical to making such programs successful, Watanabe said.  Already students have participated in working for the: Show-Me State Games, MLB All-Star Game, and other professional, collegiate, amateur, and other interscholastic sport  organizations and events.

“One of our goals is to help each student find their place in the sport industry and succeed in those careers,” Watanabe added.