This is the conclusion to the story of how I got to where I am. In part 2, I offer up my suggestions to those looking to get involved in the business of sports. There are many ways to get through the gauntlet, but I can speak to my experiences and those that have excelled. See part 1 here: It’s my life, part 1.
Like any other business, there are many departments and ways to be involved. For those looking to get started in sports, involvement is the key. Learn as much as you can from the start. I’ve found that the best way to do this is in the minor leagues. In the minors, everyone wears every hat. You may have a title like director of marketing, but you will need to know how to do everything from selling tickets to pulling tarp. Minor league staffs are much smaller than those in the Majors, so there is much more opportunity for involvement. The Majors are much more departmentalized and see less crossover to other tasks.
One thing I should point out is that people that work in sports are not rich. They may eventually live very comfortably, but won’t be driving to the ballpark in their Rolls or Bentley. This is my fourth year in professional baseball and I’m still an intern. I’ve been graduated from college for over two years and again, I’m still an intern. To work in this business, a lot of sacrifices must be made and you must also “put in your time.” The “time” varies immensely from person to person and job to job. It is very important to work hard and set yourself apart, but you must also be in the right place at the right time when a job becomes available. You must remember that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people gunning for the same spot you want.
Getting back to the different areas of the business… I am currently in media relations, but have spent time involved in nearly every department in the game. I filled in as a ball boy on the field. I’ve dressed as the mascot. I’ve escorted players to community events. I’ve cleaned up garbage. I’ve eaten dinner with Hall of Famers. I’ve sold tickets. I’ve planned events. And so on.
If I can leave with a few things to remember, here they are…
Be persistent. You’ll need to stick it out. Nobody is going to hand you a job. You’ll need to be ready to take failure. I lost track a long time ago of all the rejection letters and emails that I have received. You have to be persistent because the people you are trying to contact are very busy, usually all the time. If you’re not persistent, you will more than likely be forgotten about like Kenny Powers.
Get involved. Once you get a chance to shine, do as much as you can. Volunteer for committees. Offer to help in other departments during your down time. Sign up to help for special events. My friends Ivan Ignatowski and Jake Mentch are still back in Milwaukee selling season and group tickets. They’ve helped out at just about every Brewers special event imaginable. They even got to meet players and drive them around. There’s something for the scrapbook. You never know what opportunity can open another door – so take what you can and learn!
Be patient. Jobs in sports don’t open up everyday. You will need to keep checking the postings and meeting as many contacts as you can so that you are ready when that position opens up.
Be flexible. Once that job comes along, you will need to be ready to do what it takes to get it done. You may have to move across the country, you may miss a holiday, you may miss a friend’s wedding or birthday party, you may have to leave your comfort zone or you may have to take a pay cut now to realize your dream later. Again, not many jobs in sports exist. Narrowing your pool to one city or area of the country drastically reduces your chances of succeeding.
I hope I have been of some help. There are many different paths that people have taken to succeed in sports, so there is not a bible on the subject. And don’t forget to ask questions, as some of you have already done with me.