Since the establishment of Ash’s Sports Talk, I’ve had the prestigious opportunity to interview 15 sports industry professionals across the world! The sports industry is a world which provides much emphasis on the final product that mass-consumers absorb. Still, not enough attention is offered to the hard-working industry staff that are making these incredible experiences happen. The advice I’ve garnered from each professional has been invaluable. It has leveraged my sports career ambitions to another level. For that reason, instead of a mid-week interview today, I’ve decided to dedicate this miraculous milestone to sharing my five most influential sports industry learnings through the conversations I’ve had.
Learning one; own your niche
Several interviews I’ve held have discussed this concept, including Daniel Wood from the FBA, Preeti Shetty from The Football Foundation and Stefan Dagher. The sports industry is one of the most commercialised economies, meaning its sectors of work are a lot more specialised than other traditional industry’s. For example, if you’re passionate to break into marketing and communications, attempt to learn and experience as much as you can in that area, become your own master of that craft to give yourself the best chance to stand out. I’ve applied this to my journey from pursuing my own sports blog; it provides me with the opportunity to communicate my view on industry affairs but keeps my digital marketing skills fresh and developing.
Learning two; have something unorthodox to offer
Asking yourself what makes you different than others is imperative to stand out in an ever-so-popular world of sport. The likes of Will Street from Aston Villa, Goran Milošević from FANNECTOR, Dominic Edwards from West Ham United and James Jeavons from Me and My Golf taught me this. Traditionally, I’ve noticed many people working in sport come from a predominantly sporting-orientated background. However, ever since the commercialisation of the sector, this has welcomed a wave of diverse individuals to enter the industry to bring value from external backgrounds. Like myself, if you’re working in an external sector to sport, don’t think of that as a setback, think of it as an advantage as you’ll naturally stand out from the norm.
Learning three; follow your passion
I know, it sounds obvious and cliched, but it can often get overlooked which I found out from Michael Jackson from Elite Sports Marketing. During my career and life, I’ve been taught to play to strengths, and you’ll prosper. However, what if your ‘strengths’ lie in an area that you’re not passionate about? Eventually, you’ll likely find yourself to burn out and question why you’re bothering to continue with your current craft. I’ve applied this as I love digital marketing in sport, but I’m aware it’s not my biggest strength from a sector perspective. However, due to the passion I have for it, I understand with experience, my marketing skills will improve, which comes down to the love I obtain for the industry.
Learning four; prepare to adapt
The sports industry is changing quicker than any world, considering its connections to multiple sectors across the working landscape. With change comes adaptation, such as the utilisation of technology and data to create some of the most innovative fan experiences and improve coaching interventions on and off the pitch. Both Steve Stone from The Army FA and Will Street shared this nugget of sagacity. This also synergises with learning point two, coming from an external background to the sports industry, will demonstrate your ability to adapt by working in a different sector. From my experience, the best method to enhance adaptation would be to keep updated with sports industry news, pay close attention to new features in technology and how the infrastructure of sport is changing.
Learning five; champion a personal cause
Former Premier League star Jason Lampkin, Southall Athletic employee Harsimran Virdee and Professor at The FBA, Daniel Wood have all shared this. It makes sense, promoting a personal cause wherever you go in the sports industry will serve you well. It will be your niche to help you stand out, your motivator to keep you going when times get tough and provide you personal reward. For me, striving to make sport more inclusive on a broader scale is essential for me. This means encouraging more people to watch, participate and engage in sports content. Sport has proven to create the worlds most immense experiences; it would mean the world to me for this to continue.
Whoever’s reading this, I hope this has provided your value for your sports career journey to continue striving for greatness. I want to thank every sports industry professional who has contributed to my blog so far; without you, I wouldn’t have had the inspiration to create this piece.