The "Tunnel Vision" You Need to Exist in SportsBiz
The day was May 9, 2012. I had just completed my first year of law school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and I still had not finalized my summer plans. I was waiting for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from a local sports agency regarding a summer legal internship.
I had interviewed with the agency in late April. A week turned into 10 days, which turned into two weeks. Finally, I received a decision, with the email starting off “Thank you for your interest in our program, but…” You can probably decipher the rest of the email.
A month prior, I actually already had an internship lined up with a talent agency. Yet, a week after officially accepting an offer to intern with it, the person I interviewed with called and delivered some unpleasant news. After talking with the head agent, the agency did not really want any interns. Weird, huh? I thought so, too.
Needless to say, the two experiences pissed me off. I did not really know how to react or what my next move would be toward moving my career in the right direction. I remember the month of May being a depressing month, to say the least. I started questioning whether working in sports or even the entertainment world was a viable option. Maybe I should just follow a conservative career path instead, I remember contemplating.
So, what is the overall point of me sharing with you these two short stories? Why should you continue reading?
Well, following those experiences, I have existed and behaved with the mindset that, I am going to work in sports. A past boss and mentor of mine, Ben Sturner, calls it tunnel vision, and I think it is a mentality that more people could and should adopt.
Sure, there are all of the naysayers along with the facts and figures about why you should not pursue a career in the sports business world. There are 400-plus sports management programs, so thousands and thousands of students graduate every year wanting to work in marketing, sales, sponsorships, event management, etc.
Even individuals who do not have a sports-focused education, myself included, want to cross over into the sports realm. Then, there is the annoying cliché that you must know someone to work in sports. However, having a clear, focused, and laser vision of what you want to do in sports and how you plan to arrive at that point will certainly help distract you from hearing the negative noise about the industry.
A few weeks ago, I posed a question on Twitter: Who wants to work in sports? Who knows they will work in sports?
So, which one is it going to be?
Are you going to pretend that working in sports is an option? Maybe half-ass your way through the final year or two of your undergraduate/graduate career hoping and praying that your dream will become a reality?
Or, are you going to be on the opposite end of the spectrum? Your future reality is already set in stone in your head: working in sports is going to happen. You can picture your future self working with a certain team, league, agency, brand, or property.
Obviously, there has to be a fair amount of action being taken place in conjunction with having a clearly-defined vision of where you want to be. Without the tunnel vision, though, you will listen to the doubters, pay attention to the negative information, and undoubtedly, become another individual who did not make it in the industry.
Mark Burns graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2011 and will enter his third year of law school at Belmont University in late August. He has aspirations of breaking into the sports business industry. He was recently named a 2013 "30 Under 30" Award Recipient in Sports Launch Magazine. Mark invites you to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.