Dalton Myers | Sports management degrees are worth it
Let me start by congratulating Liverpool Football Club on winning their sixth UEFA Champions League title!
That out of the way, with the emergence of faculties of sport in Jamaica, as well as several Jamaicans going overseas to study in this field, the question has been asked whether such sports management and sport administration degrees are worth the paper they are written on. It is a valid question, especially in light of the fact that locally, most heads of national sporting associations would have qualifications in other disciplines, or in other cases, no qualifications at all.
Globally, there are similar trends, with several heads of international sports federations having academic qualifications in unrelated fields. The other issue is that the field of sport management/administration is still emerging as a stand-alone specialised area, therefore, in some instances, making a valuation on salary and compensation or simply finding jobs locally can be a daunting task.
The other concern for some is whether we will have enough opportunities locally or regionally for the many graduates of the respective colleges and universities in Jamaica, and the wider region, especially when others in related management studies and leadership programmes can also have a claim on the sporting industry.
My view is that we have to think globally when pursuing any degree or academic qualification. I do believe we need more managers and administrators of sports who are studying the discipline. Having a degree doesn’t suggest that they will be the complete authority on the area, but it could allow for exposure to new ways of thinking to drive the development of the sporting industry.
We criticise the Government for not investing enough in sports, and while I do agree with that, I think, generally, we need to encourage more young people to become managers of sport and study as well as conduct research in the area to come up with innovative solutions to the many challenges we have.
Issues with our management of sports locally are evident, and with an increased emphasis on the academic side of sport management, we can use best practices along with new and creative ideas to grow our local sporting industry. There are still untapped areas such as developing a structure around our semi-professional and amateur leagues as well as need for persons to help manage the various talents we have. We still have a lot to learn about sports tourism, and maybe we need to see some of our young graduates studying and making significant contributions towards developing this area.
There are investors wanting to fund sport, but what they see in the media locally tends to be more on the negative side of sport management. This does not encourage them to invest in the local sporting industry. My hope is that over the next few years, we can see more opportunities for internships for students graduating from the various sport management and administration degree programmes or just transitioning into the various sports field.
Internationally, there is a growing market for the management and administration of amateur and professional sports as well as sporting franchises. This represents an increased interest, especially in the US, but there is also global appeal for these professionals. While the heads of international bodies may be professional in other disciplines, the organisations are staffed with qualified sport managers and administrators.
What we need is creative thinking, so my hope is that our local institutions look more at creating academic programmes that are more practical than they currently are. We have to prepare our students for a world that is fast paced and results-oriented rather than the traditional overly theoretical approach to sport that is sometimes outdated and not in sync with global realities. Most programmes should also have an internship component or avenue for the student to gain experience in the field while studying.
I think there will generally be a great need for more sport managers and administrators in the local, regional, and global sporting industry. We must get ready to take advantage of those opportunities whether in sporting-event management, team management, individual management, or the sports merchandising and manufacturing sector. Hopefully, with the emergence of more academic programmes locally, we will see a positive correlation in our sporting industry.
Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @daltonsmyers.