Sports is an upcoming field across the world. A career in Sports has high demand in this day and age. However, when it comes to building a career in sports, most people are skeptical as everyone believes that the probability of success is very low. In addition, in India, the sports infrastructure and facilities including professional coaching are limited. We come across so many children who are exceptionally good at sports. The limited perceivable success opportunities result in them taking up a career that has no relevance to sports in the first place. Young students with unlimited potential have been robbed of their desired careers for too long now.   

Let’s try and understand a small case to make this more clear:- 

Rishi is an 8th-grade student who excels in Football and athletics. However, the school offers only one period of sports, twice a week, and that too of 30 min. In addition, the academic pressure has gone up due to the impending 10th Board curriculum which doesn’t even consider sports as a subject. Irrespective of our opinions, the education system has limited every students’ potential to the same old five subjects.
All students, irrespective of their unique inherent talents, have to excel in academics which has nothing to do with their skills, interests, or talent. Unfortunately, nobody has ever questioned the authorities why these five subjects are mandatory for every 10th std student. The argument that these are the basic building blocks for life is highly questionable. 
If we were to consider someone who wants to be a great business owner and do trading, then why do they have to study science in such depth. The same child can excel so much more if they have a curriculum that helps them understand inventory, trading, finance, and business studies. As Rishi moves into the 10th grade, he wants to progress in sports, he thinks he has no option to do so. He then gets into commerce and learns more about business and merges his education and his passion to become a sports entrepreneur.  

Careers in Sports: Beyond the Field

 When we talk about a Career in Sports, everyone only thinks of being a PLAYER and since very few players reach the International level, especially in India, students and parents are forced to select an option other than sports. Every sportsperson has a good knowledge of that specific sport, and there are many careers in sports other than being a player. There is a huge lack of awareness about careers in sports which range from careers in sports medicine, careers in sports management to careers in sports marketing and journalism.

Each one of these areas is fundamentally strong. If a student prepares to be an excellent skilled person in that chosen field within the field of sports, there is no limit to which the person can grow even in the international scenario. Also, there are many unique problems in the field of sports that need to be addressed using creativity and innovation. If we can groom young entrepreneurs, we can create huge enterprises through these young minds and allow our next generation to be the job creators in this field than average job seekers. In any case, whether they are doing jobs or creating jobs, the thought of following their passion for a career in sports will make them more enthusiastic and prepared for their work, thereby ensuring much higher productivity and a higher probability of success.  

More importantly, their careers will also be safe, as they need not be Olympians or National Level medalists to pursue a career in any of these areas.  

Degrees aren’t Everything!

Thirdly and most importantly, the investment of time and money in the preparatory years will not go in vain. As the children will also enjoy every moment of their education and skill development, as it is directly linked to their choice of field and interest area. Last but not the least, the children can keep their dreams alive of reaching the Olympics as they can continue playing their sport as the field is connected and they are well networked also, at the same time.  This is a completely WIN-WIN situation for all. If they do not make it till the Olympics too, their careers are safe and they are still enjoying their life. 

On the other hand, we know of so many people who have wasted their time in graduating in some area that has no link to their field of interest. After working for a few years, they decide to switch to the sports and physical fields of their interest. Proper proactive planning at an early stage in their 9th-12th standards itself would have saved so much time and money. A small investment at the beginning of their career would have ensured that they live their life happily and produce something worthy to make them as well as all of us proud of them. 

While there are few education choices like “sports management” or “psychology” or “journalism” that can be linked to sports, some sports passionate youngsters with good business and entrepreneurial acumen can also drop out from conventional education and skill themselves independently by doing projects, interning with sports organizations, adventure camps and so on.  

In a world where every second child has a degree, work experience will set the student who has solid work experience way ahead of a person with just a degree. The sports industry looks for the acumen, passion, and reputation of a sportsman, and not for their academic qualifications. 

How to plan a career in sports?

The conclusion is that, if Rishi wants to progress his/ her career in the field of sports, then the following is important:
(a) Start Early and build skills in the specific sport aiming to be the best in the world. ( Yes, everyone is limitless, and we must allow our youth to aspire to be the best)
(b) As the child reaches 9th grade, build a plan with a fundamentally strong career option in the same field and again link it to the same field of sport, if possible. 
(c) If the interest is not there in any related education field, then prepare an unconventional plan to skill and build a very strong reputation in the field, with an aspiration to be a sports entrepreneur 

Planning is extremely important when it comes to careers. What’s odd is that we value planning in every other part of our life but our careers. To quote Gloria Steinem, “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” 

  • The most important disclaimer is that normally, to take a “leap” in this direction of sports, which looks daunting and uncertain, parents and children will need professional support and guidance. The best way to combat this anxiety is to have a credible “Career Mentor” sit with the student and parents to prepare a personalized plan and career path to ensure a high probability of success in the chosen career destination.  
  • Dheya Career Mentors specialize in this activity and have many success stories of children who have linked their academic lives with their passion areas of sports, and excelled in their careers too.

Naveen Badrinarayan
Director of Research,
Dheya Career Mentors.