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International sport shows promise for managers

This is an excerpt from Contemporary Sport Management, Fourth Edition, edited by Paul Pedersen, PhD, Janet Parks, DA, Jerome Quarterman, PhD, and Lucie Thibault, PhD.

Important segments of the international sport industry include arenas, event management, stadia, sport products, ticketing, sport law, security, fitness centers, rehabilitation and sports medicine centers, sport marketing, accommodations, and travel. These segments are crucial to the conduct of international sport and are the areas in which the most growth will occur in the future, thereby providing the most opportunities for entry-level sport managers. To secure work in these venues, sports managers must master a wide knowledge and skill base.

International Sport Manager’s Skill Set

Computer skills and the ability to navigate the Internet to conduct research and maintain daily business communication are basic skills for entry-level sport management positions. International sport is a personal relationship culture based on strong oral and written communication skills as well as an understanding of electronic etiquette. A sales background or experience as an athlete is not a requirement, but both can be helpful in gaining a job and succeeding in it. As an international sport manager, you must be willing and able to travel, necessitating an adequate level of fitness and health. You need to be patient, able to listen, and respectful of existing hierarchies established by various cultural and religious practices.

Being able to communicate in the language of the country where you are working is extremely important. You might be told that your colleagues from other countries understand English better than they do or that you can obtain the services of an interpreter who, as it turns out, cannot or will not convey the nuances of key oral exchanges. Consequently, in international business and sport, even a rudimentary understanding of the language of the country in which you are doing business can gain you an invaluable advantage over the competition.

International Sport Manager’s Worldview

If you aspire to a career in international sport management, you should consider (1) studying abroad, preferably in a country that speaks a language different from yours, for a minimum of one semester while still in school and (2) availing yourself of a wide range of publications, including industry and trade publications, Internet resources (e.g., Web sites, blogs, message boards), professional journals, newspapers, and magazines to keep you up to date on international political, business, and sport trends. This practice will give you knowledge of general business practices in a given culture, keep you current on what is happening in the global economy, and provide up-to-date information about world events.

A basic knowledge of how a sport operates internationally, how the specific rules of the game are applied, how the sport is structured, and where the locus of power resides with the sport (politically as well as on the field of play) can enhance your marketability. An understanding of trends in licensing, marketing, promotion, event management, and contracts is also helpful. Familiarity with international geography, such as shifting borders within geopolitical regions, will prevent serious faux pas, such as forgetting that Czechoslovakia is now the separate nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia; that Burma is now Myanmar; and that Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia are no longer part of Yugoslavia.

International Sport Management: “It’s Personal!”

Success in the international sport and business sphere is predicated on personal contact and friendship. Attending meetings of national sport federations, professional sport-related associations, and other conferences and symposia helps maintain and expand your network of professional contacts. Time availability, relevance to your professional interests, and financial resources are important factors to consider when choosing the associations or conferences and trade shows (e.g., China International Sporting Goods Show, Seoul International Sports & Leisure Industry Show) that you want to attend. Volunteering at a major international sports event, conference, or trade show is an effective way to gain access to the field and demonstrate your capabilities as a potential employee.

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