To be the general manager of a sports team, which is more important: A Masters in Sports Management or an MBA?

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What is the Sports Manager of a sports team?

Before exploring the two degrees in the captioned query, we will look at some of the responsibilities of a manager for a professional team. The duties may vary depending on the team’s sport; however, there are everyday tasks involved in the position. Some of these are as follows.

Human Resources

The manager of a pro team is responsible for hiring and firing athletes, as well as preparing and negotiating contracts. In this endeavor, they may have a say in the annual draft in the NFL and NBA.

At the college level, the manager works with the recruiters in assessing the best high school talent for the school’s program. This process involves the use of scholarships to attract players.


The sports manager may collaborate with staff members to plan and promote events and work with athletic trainers to ensure that the team has the necessary equipment.


The manager reviews the team budget to make sure the team allocates the appropriate funds for supplies, equipment, travel, and uniforms. He/she may also assist in ticket sales, merchandising of player’s jerseys, and fundraisers. In college sports, the manager takes the role of compliance director to safeguard that the team complies with NCAA regulations.


Another responsibility of the manager involves working with corporate sponsors and endorsements. These are valuable and crucial sources of revenue for a professional and college team. For example, Nike signed a 15-year contract with the University of Michigan in 2015 for $169 million, which includes shoes and uniforms. College sports are a multi-billion dollar business, no different from professional sports.

Master’s in Sports Management vs. MBA

Is one degree better than the other? Probably not. Certain factors may influence your choice of the two. Deciding which degree is preferable raises more questions, for example: Where do you plan to work? What area of sports management? The former opens the door to college sports, sports organizations, sports management firms, your own practice, and professional sports teams and venues.

From the perspective of popularity, the business degree wins. According to the Princeton Review, a major in business sits at number four on the list based on job prospects, salaries, and popularity. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) paints a much different picture in overwhelming favor of a business degree. The NCES has business as the top conferred degree, with over 350,000 students earning their degree in the major. The second place goes to health professionals with just over 200,000.

More importantly, a Master of Business Administration applies to almost every industry. This feature of the degree will create more job opportunities across a spectrum of businesses. Sports management would be one of the fields. The best-case scenario would be an MBA with a specialization in Sports Management. The core subjects in the concentration cover finance, marketing, accounting, statistics, human resources, and business operations. These topics address the duties mentioned above.

An example is the MBA in Sport Management at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The school offers an on-campus for students currently working in the sports industry. Full-time employment is not mandatory for the online format, although it is strongly encouraged.

You could study many of the same coursework in a Master of Science in Sports Management. The online program, as Southern New Hampshire University, for example, also explores finance, accounting, sports marketing, and research methods in sports.

The difference between the MBA and the M.S. in Sports Management is that the latter focuses on sports from the business and operations viewpoint. The courses may cover the same subjects, such as finance and accounting; however, the M.S. also studies sociology, athletic performance, psychology, and sports promotion. Additionally, the curriculum of the M.S. may include NCAA Governance and Compliance, Facility and Event Management, Collegiate Sport Management, and Legal Issues in Collegiate Sports. These courses, taken from the Sport Administration graduate program at the University of North Carolina, would suit individuals planning to work in college sports.

The above examples illustrate the premise that students can tailor the curriculum to their career aspirations. By researching various college programs, you can find one whose coursework best aligns with your future place of employment in the field of sports management. Furthermore, students whose career remains uncertain may opt for the MBA, whose versatility applies to a myriad of professions. The acceptance and versatility of the MBA also provide the benefit of switching your career path away from sports management.

Additional Resources:

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Do I need to be a former athlete to have a good chance at a job in sports management?

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