Sports Careers: General Managers

What They Do

The general manager of a sports team is an executive who is responsible for negotiating contracts with players, reassigning or dismissing players and, in some cases, hiring the head coach. Legal knowledge related to the team, players and coaches are important to this job.

The basic responsibilities of a general manager are to organize the team and to make sure scheduling, contracts and communication go smoothly. The general manager of any team oversees the day-to-day activities and organization of the team and facilitates a smooth and positive work environment.

General managers may have to handle the media and marketing aspects of sports. Because a sports team is a business, positive press as well as clean and effective marketing is important. In some cases, a general manager may act as a spokesperson for the team. Explaining choices to reporters and fans is a common task of a general manager. The ability to handle financial matters is also important, whether negotiating a contract, working with vendors or buying equipment.

The general manager works with the players and the coaches to decide which players should be called up from the minor leagues, sent back down and dismissed. Many general managers have been players themselves, while others have both sports experience and an educational background in business and management.

Career Growth

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have specific data on general managers in the sports industry, the employment of general managers in all industries is expected to increase 12 percent by 2022, which is an average rate compared to all occupations.

Because most general managers in sports hold their jobs for a long time, the turnover is not very quick. However, given that the sports and entertainment industries are always growing and evolving, many organizations are looking to create new management positions in the future.

Salary Potential

The average salary for general and operations managers is $95,440, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salaries of most general managers in sports depend on the size of the organization and the kind of sport. Pay may be based on how well the team performs and if the general manager’s choices have had a positive and successful impact on the team’s performance throughout the season. Many general managers receive incentives from sponsors, advertisers and other stakeholders in the team.

Education Required

Generally, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for general managers. However, a graduate degree can increase career prospects and opportunities for advancement. Many students choose to pursue internships with teams while in college or after earning their degree. The skills and knowledge needed to become a general manager include: administration, public relations, promotions and marketing, communication, leadership and conflict resolution.