Dr. G. Lynn Lashbrook has been an ambassador for collegiate-level athletics for over three decades, serving as a scout, coach, recruiter, athletic director, compliance director and academic adviser at schools such as the University of Missouri, Southern Illinois University, Oregon State University and the University of Alaska. Dr. Lashbrook established the first NCAA athletic exchange with Russia and, in his enthusiasm for the profession, has become an advocate for ethical leadership and community spirit through sports, encouraging students to get a “ticket”—the education and hard work that will prepare them for a career in sports management—to the game.
What is the best advice you can give a person who wants to enter the field?
You need a ticket to the game to catch a foul ball. As a young kid growing up in Kansas City I caught thirteen foul balls at the Kansas City A’s games. In each case, I had a ticket to the game. If I didn’t have a ticket, I wouldn’t have gotten into the game and wouldn’t have caught the foul balls. For the past 40 years I have never left the world of sports. First I was an athlete, a coach, professor, compliance officer, academic advisor, athletic director, sports agent and now an online sports career educator. There were very few options for a career in sports when I finished my athletic playing career. I, once again, needed a ticket to the game known as a career in sports.
When did you become interested in sports management?
The day I began playing catch as a little boy with my father!
What area of sports management did you earn your PhD in?
In the early 1970’s it was first physical education and then I receive my doctorate in kinesiology.
What is the most important quality a person should have to succeed in sports management?
Passion and an ethical compass.
What is the biggest misconception new students have about the profession?
They feel you can “degree” your way into sports instead of working your way into sports. Many students get a degree, but don’t yet have the experience needed to land a job in sports. Experience, content and connections are the ticket to the game. There is no one way to go about obtaining that elusive ticket. There is however, one common trait all successful people in the sports industry have: they are self-starters. The most successful people I have known have created their own luck.
How do you teach a student to survive in such a competitive profession?
You still need your ticket. Don’t wait for that internship to be handed to you. Create an opportunity. Get sports job experience, skills and strategies now. Getting a degree is an important part of the process, but it often lacks the content sports hiring managers seek. You need a sports-specific skill set to set yourself apart from the competition.
Do you have any tips to offer students about different sports management jobs?
From my 35 years of sports business experience, I have some specific suggestions for those who need a ticket to the game and I have some career strategies for specific sports jobs.
- Coach – If you are not participating in college sports, it is imperative you work or volunteer in an athletic program or in a local high school. Having a teaching certificate is important as well as pursing a master’s degree in sports management. Online educationis a great opportunity while you continue to grow as a coach.
- Academic Advisor – Become a tutor in an athletic program. It is a great way to understand the inner workings of the academic counseling unit. Become a student member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics.
- Compliance Officer – Work or volunteer in an athletic department. There is no curriculum that can replace hands-on experience.
- Athletic Director – It is a must to volunteer or work in the athletics department in some capacity while going to school. The networking and hands-on experience is invaluable. A master’s and doctorate in sports management will give you separation from other candidates.
- Sports Agent – It is important to learn from others. If you can, intern at an agency. Read lots of books on what a career as an agent entails. Educate yourself. Take agent specific classes on rules, laws and compliance issues related to being an agent.
- Sports Broadcaster – With Internet radio, anyone passionate about doing play by play should pick a high school team or college team that doesn’t have radio coverage and start doing it. You do not need to wait for someone to give you a chance.
- Sports Business Executive – Be able to sell something and be the best salesperson you can be. Every professional team and organization in the world needs to sell more product, tickets and sponsorship. If you can sell, you can work in sports with or without a degree. (But please finish your degree, it will last a lifetime!)
- Sports Media/Journalist – Write for you school paper and volunteer at sports media events. Attend press conferences, write press releases or submit articles for blogs, magazines and websites.
- Scout – Every big fan thinks they can spot the next big athlete. But can you write a professional scouting report? Objectively evaluate talent? Analyze plays? You should learn to use scouting software and speak the language of the scouts. It’s a whole different way of looking at, and talking about, the game.
- Digital Video Editor – This is the easiest way to break into the professional game. Every professional team now uses video and scouting software in some capacity and with the addition of video games, DVE jobs are growing faster than they can be filled—but you have to have skills to break down game film and use the proper software.