Archive for July, 2008

Learning to Play the Game of Management

July 1, 2008

Sport is a fickle mistress – she takes you on a rollercoaster ride filled with extreme highs and deep lows that make your adrenaline levels soar and dip alternately. She makes you a superstar, an icon in the eyes of the world, a hero who induces hysteria in the masses just by stepping on to a playing field. In a grotesque twist of fate, she’s also capable of plunging you down to the depths of despair until you feel like you’re below rock bottom level. The winner emerges euphoric with the thrill of one-upmanship while the loser drags himself off the arena and lives to fight another day. The goal that catapults one man to stardom is the same act that shoves the goalie into the depths of despair.  

Sportsmen are often able to come to terms with and live peacefully with a fickle mistress; but there’s a time when sport turns a cruel mistress – when injury cuts short a promising career that’s just germinating. Like a plane that’s forced to crash land no sooner than it’s taken off, the sportsman becomes a broken shell of what he once was – forced to watch from the sidelines as people less talented than him bask in the limelight that by right ought to be his. It’s not just a passion that comes to an end, but also the money the game generates. Besides the six figure salary, sportsmen lure the lucre through special appearances, endorsements and book deals.  

But there’s a new avenue opening up to ex-jocks who are still passionate about the game – managing sports. The task of managing superstars is probably not as high-profile as being a superstar oneself, but managers like Alex Ferguson and Luiz Felipe Scolari have made themselves household names even while remaining in the background. One area where management and playing coincide is where the money is – both earn stellar amounts.  

Going back to school takes on a whole new meaning when sportsmen learn that they can pursue the subject they love – sports – and earn not just a degree but also a more than decent living. They also get to stay in touch with the game, as an integral part of it rather than as a spectator. A number of universities have woken up to the fact that there’s a huge market for sports management, which is why they’re offering degrees in the specialization – the University of Liverpool offers an MBA in Football Industries, the San Diego State University offers a marketing course aimed at helping executives in the football industry and the Kellog School of Management is offering a course in sports management, to name just a few.  

While experience and percentage of success are key factors in sports management, education can make a big difference in how tactics are used to rout the opponent. Management students tend to have an innate competitive streak that serves them in good stead once they move the sports arena as tacticians who must map winning strategies time after time. They are skilled at analyzing opponents and using data and statistics to beat them at their own game. A new era in the history of management studies has just begun, thanks to sports and the world’s passion for it.  


Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of top online university. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:


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