For anyone who’s ever dreamed of taking their talents to a sports organization and working to build their brand, but felt like it was too difficult or that the sports industry was very particular, you’re wrong. There are people from many different walks of life and educational backgrounds that have made their way into a prominent role and affected an organization for the better. Many of the most insightful quotes and suggestions for this year’s Sports Industry Conference at Rotman College on March 4 came from a panel of speakers whose primary objective was to feed information to undergraduate students from all over North America about the trials and tribulations it takes to make it. They motivated everyone in the room with their personal stories of success.
First of all, you need to show up. Be accountable and treat others as they wish to be treated. Attitude is the important topic for anyone wanting to make it in their desired industry. It doesn’t matter which league you work for; everyone knows everyone. If you wish to work in sports at any position, you have to be cognisant of how you treat others. “One important rule is to think about how you’d like to be treated, and then treat that other person even better,” says Trevor Georgie, president of the Canadian Hockey League’s Saint John Sea Dogs.
“Never chase short money. Put in the preparation and bet on yourself to succeed,” says Tyler Currie, director of international affairs, NHLPA.
Luck plays an incredibly important role in our day-to-day lives. Almost everyone can look at the things in their life that they are grateful for and pinpoint a moment that occurred out of their control that landed them that “thing”. But without sacrifices, you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to get lucky. Take odd jobs that nobody else wants, meet new people with peculiar personalities, and diversify your talents by taking on tasks you normally wouldn’t—this is what separates the best from the mediocre. “You need to be prepared for when luck presents itself,” says Georgie.
“The same quirky, funny personality that you’re scared to show in public might just be your biggest advantage,” says Rachel Bonnetta, co-host of Fox Sports Soccer @TheBuzze. “I dropped an F-bomb in my first MLSE interviews” she says. Ultimately, you have to believe in yourself and what you’re capable of doing. You are your greatest asset. Bonnetta landed her dream job, interviewing the greatest athletes from around the world, because she went beyond the norm and made the decision to use her authentic self, rather than conform to guidelines. One of the better lines of the Sports Industry Conference 2016 was Bonnetta reiterating, “It’s important not to be timid because your voice is just as valuable as the next person’s.”
Last but not least, invest in yourself financially. “Put some money aside and invest in yourself as a business,” says Georgie. Invest your time: follow the industry to help you gain knowledge and understand relevant issues. “Always be updated with the sector you want to work in,” says Vijay Setlur, sports marketing instructor at York University. Investing in the right people through mentorships and networking opportunities will help you grow as a professional. “Networking is ageless,” says Georgie.
If you’re serious about starting a successful life for yourself in the field you want to work tirelessly in, your time is now.