My son is in grade 12. His passion is cricket and he wants to take up the sport as his career. As his parents, we respect his decision. Could you suggest ways of moving forward that would help him to proceed in playing cricket and getting his higher education?
Your son’s passion for cricket is commendable and while I hope he does manage to become a professional cricketer, we need to be realistic about the possibilities.
No doubt with the advent of IPL, the game has been thrown open to hundreds of aspirant players from just two dozen in earlier years. But bear in mind, even if he is successful, a professional cricketer does not play forever and it is important to merge his passion with, say, a business degree.
Studying sport management involves learning about the sport itself and the psychological principles behind it. Your son will understand the connection and interdependence between sport, entertainment and business. He’ll learn how to market the game, how to plan events, understand sports publicity, coaching, and administration. Other topics covered are likely to include sponsorships, deal-making and negotiations; legal issues and regulations; and finance in the entertainment industry.
At school, subjects to focus on are maths and science. Sports managers must also be excellent communicators and it is advisable to strengthen reading, writing and speaking skills. In addition to playing the game, he should try to engage with a sports team in other roles, which will provide valuable insights into managing the game.
Valued in excess of $1.5 trillion, the sports industry offers lots of opportunities in areas such as sports networks (ESPN, Star, Fox), athletic apparel companies, marketing and public relations firms, to name just a few.
By its very nature, people in sports management tend to be leaders and need to possess certain skills, some of which can be cultivated and learnt, but some are innate. Communication plays a key role not only in explaining decisions and strategies to players, but also in negotiating and finalising agreements.
Teamwork is critical at every level of the game as it is the role of the sports manager to help individuals play as a team. Organisational skills, decision making and strong value systems would be some other attributes required in the industry.
Your son need not necessarily restrict studies of sports management to cricket-loving Commonwealth countries. His wishlist of colleges could include Temple, New York University, University of Texas, Penn State, Bath, Edinburgh, Lougborough, Exeter, Bond and Deakin. In addition to credibility and location of the university, other attributes he needs to look at while selecting a college would include access to local sports teams, availability of internships, student-teacher ratio, and obviously, the cost.
In the interim there are dozens of coaching institutes in UAE, UK, Australia and India where he can improve his game.