Five Self-help Books Every Sports Management Professional Should Read


Five Books to Inspire Sports Management Professionals

  • ”When Pride Still Mattered: The Life of Vince Lombardi” by David Maraniss
  • ”Wooden: A Coach’s Life” by Seth Davis
  • ”Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis
  • ”Eleven Rings” by Phil Jackson
  • ”Playbook for Success” by Nancy Lieberman

Sports management professionals are in high demand, especially as the business of sports continues to expand, both in media coverage and in reputation. As Forbes points out, the road to entering the industry can be long and challenging, even with a degree in the field. Becoming successful requires a great deal of homework outside of the office, off the pitch, and on a professional’s own time. Here are five books, all written by or about coaches and managers in the field, that every professional in the sports industry should read.

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”When Pride Still Mattered: The Life of Vince Lombardi” by David Maraniss

Vince Lombardi is a behemoth in football; at 46 years old and after 20 years of coaching high school teams and assistant coaching for the New York Giants, this Italian-American went on to coach the Green Bay Packers; together with his players, they went on to win five championships in less than nine years. In this book by Pulitzer-Prize winning author, David Maraniss, the secrets to Lombardi’s success are uncovered, including tactics and skills that every sports management professional should be utilizing in their own work.

”Wooden: A Coach’s Life” by Seth Davis

Seth Davis wrote one of the best books about coaching a college basketball team and it all has to do with Jim Golden, the famous UCLA coach that guided the team to 88 consecutive wins. He also coached UCLA to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, making him one of the most successful college basketball coaches in history. The book consists of over 200 interviews with UCLA team players, other coaches, and Wooden himself to bring to light the management and leadership tactics Wooden used to build a team that was unstoppable.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is not just a movie; it’s a best-selling biography on a baseball team that no one thought would be able to win. The book follows the 2002-203 Oakland Athletics baseball team and their manager, Billy Beane, whose personality was as big as the inspiration he invoked in his players. With Oakland Athletics having the second-smallest payroll in the league, Beane utilized statistics and a game of numbers to build a roster that resulted in a strange and game-winning team. This book records many of Beane’s unusual tactics to build a team that went on to challenge the American League record for most consecutive wins. Professionals in baseball should absolutely read this hilarious yet comprehensive look at managing sports teams; it is already considered the best book on baseball ever written.

”Eleven Rings” by Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is a legend in the sports world, so most management professionals will know him. He is known as the coach that has more NBA championships to his name than any other coach in the history of the sport; he also coached Michael Jordan at his prime. He claims six wins with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers, a remarkable feat. In this memoir, Jackson discusses how his adult views on spirituality helped him chart a coaching path based on authenticity, trust, and teamwork. He also reveals the secrets of team chemistry success and gives readers a glimpse into how he coached some of the best players in the sport.

”Playbook for Success” by Nancy Lieberman

Nancy Lieberman, known as “Lady Magic” has seen all sides of the sports industry. She was a former basketball player and coach for the Women’s National Basketball Association who now serves as the assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings NBA team; at the time of her hiring, she was also the second woman ever to be recruited by the NBA as a coach. In her book “Playbook for Success,” Lieberman discusses how learning specific teamwork and leadership skills helped her work her way up from being a basketball player to coaching an NBA team. This is a must-read book for all sports management professionals, but especially women who are interested in entering into the industry.

The sports world is an incredibly exciting industry for any professional. For sports management professionals, it is also their passion. With these five books in hand, professionals will learn the secrets of the legends that have come before them and, hopefully, will inspire them to meet the high bar their heroes have placed in front of them.