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What is the Difference Between Sports Marketing and Sports Management?

For many young people, offering the opportunity to major in sports would be a dream come true. With the explosion of sports leagues, fantasy sports, and other competitions, sports is a passion — or perhaps an obsession, depending upon who you ask — and thus a career in sports might not feel at all like a job for many. All careers in sports are not the same, however; in fact, they vary greatly. For example, the tasks and experiences involved with Sports Marketing and Sports Management are quite different, so you may find one significantly more appealing than the other. If you like to be out in the field organizing promotions, you may prefer Sports Marketing, while Sports Management often focuses more on business strategy.

Sports Marketing

Sports Marketing is a major in its own right, but this field is also a subset of the much broader field of marketing. The major responsibilities of those involved in Sports Marketing focus both on the promotion of teams and their events and tying in promotions of other products and services into sports events. Clients in Sports Marketing may be teams, associations, service providers, or product brands. When studying Sports Marketing, classes will focus on all of the strategy and coordination that goes into successful promotion – much of the action happens behind the scenes to make promotions during live events appear seamless.

In addition to concerns that are specific to the sports context, such as team and player sponsorship, endorsements and the like, Sports Marketing will focus on general marketing and promotion issues. These include the so-called “four P’s” of the traditional marketing mix: product, promotion, price, and placement. Increasingly, the study of how to effectively and responsibly leverage social media is becoming a focus in Sports Marketing.

Sports Management

While Sports Marketing has a business aspect, the focus in Sports Management is more the business of sports itself rather than the auxiliary business and financial opportunities that arise out of sporting events. Sports Management studies can prepare you for a variety of careers, primarily in the area of administration, facility, organization and event management. Rather than working for an external client and promoting that client’s needs, your client in Sports Management positions tends to be the team, facility, or organization for which you work.

While Sports Marketing may focus on marketing campaigns of varying duration, or the lead up and execution to a major sporting event, Sports Management focuses more on the day-to-day operation of the world of sports and recreation. While planning for and organizing promotional efforts is a part of Sports Management, much of the work in Sports Management is inward-facing and involves managing the resources of an organization or facility.

In addition, while Sports Marketing offers more opportunities to work with brand name clients, sporting goods companies and other advertisers, Sports Management often features more of a focus on personnel management, including athletes, coaches and staff.

Both Sports Management and Sports Marketing are growing fields in which you can find an exciting and rewarding career.