WANTED: MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS professionals to help restore baseball's image. Must be creative, innovative and capable of working miracles. Job security excellent (providing there's not another strike).
Baseball is looking for a few good men and women, as are a thousand other entities with a stake in a burgeoning sports industry that accounts for 4.5 million jobs and roughly $100 billion in annual revenues.
Job listings for sports-related careers are plentiful and increasing day by day. The highly anticipated '96 Olympic Games, for example, is creating a flurry of activity in Atlanta. The National Football League is expanding the job base in Florida and North Carolina with new teams in Jacksonville and Charlotte slated to begin playing later this year. Corporate giants such as Blockbuster, Disney, Warner Brothers and Fox are investing heavily in sports-related ventures. And virtually every high school, college and university in the country markets sports on a year-round basis.
"I think sports is probably one of the hottest industries around," says Larry Lundy, director of client services for Irving, Texas-based Advantage Marketing Group. "A lot of jobs are just coming to the forefront. There are opportunities that people are not aware of."
Jay Abraham, 37, president of Phoenix-based Sports Careers, a national sports career information service, echoes those sentiments. "Teams and broadcasting are just the tip of the iceberg," says Abraham. "You have special events groups, facilities managers, agents, manufacturers, retailers ... This industry, as compared to other industries, is in its adolescent stage."
"For example, in 1980 the NBA licensing department had $100,000 in total revenue," Abraham explains, "This year, it'll be over $2 billion. Four years ago at Barcelona, it cost $15 million to be an Olympic sponsor. This year, it's $40 million. The Fox Network, the Golf Channel, ESPN2, Prime Ticket--all of these entities are getting involved in regional sports programming, and I see nothing but tremendous growth and opportunity coming from those deals."
Be forewarned, though, that when it comes to hiring, some areas of the industry are still a fraternity where who you know counts for more than what you know. Plus, the Al Campanis attitude--blacks don't have the necessities required for sports-related management--persists in some circles, no matter how much lip service companies give to their minority hiring efforts.
Abraham and Lundy stress that some of these obstacles can be offset by getting involved as a volunteer at sporting events--the earlier in your career and the bigger the event, the better. Arthur Triche, the first black public relations director for an NBA team, says he wouldn't be with the Atlanta Hawks today if he hadn't made contacts through volunteer work. As an eighth-grader trying to make a few bucks delivering newspapers, he was making his stop at Tulane University one day when football coach Bennie Ellender happened to be walking out of the building. "I asked him if I could be a ball boy, and he said, `Sure. Come back in August,'" says Triche.
Four years later, Tulane offered Triche a partial scholarship to stay on as a student manager for its basketball team. By his junior year, he was on full scholarship, jockeying duties as manager, student sports information assistant and writer/editor for the school newspaper. Triche graduated from Tulane in 1983 with a B.A. in communications and stayed on as an assistant sports information director. He later went on to fill similar positions at Louisiana State University and the NFL Detroit Lions before becoming public relations director for the Hawks in 1989--the first African-American to hold that position in the NBA.
Not surprisingly, Triche still does volunteer work and keeps making contacts. He has helped at one Olympic Games ('84 in Los Angeles), three Super Bowls, three Final Fours, six NBA All-Star games and one NBA Final.
Abraham warns that it is a mistake to offer an obsession with sports as your top credential. "Companies are saying, `What can you do for me? Can you sell? Can you do accounting? They don't want people coming...