What is sports management?

“Sports management involves any combination of skills related to planning, organizing, directing, controlling, budgeting, leading, and evaluating within the context of an organization or department whose primary product or service is related to sport or physical activity,” Dennie R. Kelley, Patricia A. Beitel, Joy T. DeSani, and Mary Dale Blanton propose in an academic research paper published in the Journal of Sport. 

By all accounts, the global sports industry is booming. Predicted to increase at an annual rate of six percent to reach $614 billion by the year 2022, the industry is also rapidly evolving due to many factors, including the growing popularity of esports; the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to improve the spectator experience; increasing sports sponsorships; and the emergence of more sports channels and rising competition between them. 

The takeaway is clear: people with experience, skills and talents will be needed to chart the course in a wide range of jobs, including coaches, facility managers, public relations and promotion experts, event managers, business developers, general managers, sporting agents, consultants, sports economists, communications experts, and more. However, while there are many opportunities, there’s also steep competition for jobs. One way to sprint ahead of the pack is a sports management master’s degree. 

Live and study in the Olympic capital 

We’ve established that careers in sports management are in great demand, and that studying sports management can offer aspiring sports managers an inside edge. Which begs the question: Where should you study? Many cities are known as international sports cities, including the likes of Barcelona, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, Beijing and Manchester. But one in particular boasts a remarkable heritage and bright future when it comes to sports: Lausanne, Switzerland, known as “the Olympic Capital.”

The city, located on the scenic shores of Lake Geneva, is not only home to the International Olympic Committee, but also plays host to more than 50 international sporting federations. Meanwhile, other global sports organizations such as FIFA and UEFA are close by, while the city also routinely organizes and hosts worldwide sporting events such as the annual international athletics meet Athletissima, the Ladies Open Lausanne tennis tournament, the Lausanne Marathon and equestrian event equissima Lausanne -- to name just a few. The city also facilitates research and education in the field and is a premier destination for recreational sports enthusiasts of all ilks thanks to its access to the clear lake waters, forests, amazing parks and expansive countryside. 

As if its status as an international sports hub isn’t enough incentive for sports fans to flock to Lausanne, the city has many other things going for it. Lonely Planet raves, “While gridlocked Geneva seems to focus on the past and its reputation for hosting more international organizations than anywhere in the world, Lausanne looks to the future. The city is known for its upbeat vibe, perhaps on account of its enviable location (vistas this end of Lake Geneva are more dramatic than Geneva's) and its high-brow though party-hearty student population.” 

Indeed, the list of things Lausanne has going for it goes on and on. A quaint old old town, gourmet cuisine with many regional specialties and a thriving arts and culture scene including the world-famous Béjart Ballet are among Lausanne’s many extraordinary allures.

A sports management Master’s like no other

Lausanne also has another thing going for it in terms of sports. It’s home to The International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS). Founded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the city of Lausanne, and a consortium of three leading Swiss universities (the EPFL, University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva), as well as two private educational institutes (the EHL and IMD), AISTS is committed to sports management studies.

Not only has the AISTS’s 15-month Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) degree been ranked the number one program for Sports Management since 2015 by Eduniversal, but the school also boasts a robust global alumni community, including more than 500 sports professionals working in international federations, organizing committees, sports organizations, corporate institutions and other sports-related fields. If you are a business professional interested in turning your passion for sports into a career, we can think of no better way or place to do so than with the MAS in Lausanne. 

In addition to being a great place for participants to learn, it’s also an optimal setting for those looking to establish contacts and grow their networks. As part of the degree, all AISTS participants must complete two months of work experience in the sports industry. The organisation’s professional career coach offers guidance on finding a placement, as  well as offering career guidance post-graduation.

After graduating, some participants are able to secure positions within federations or sports organisations in Lausanne, while others return to their home countries or other destinations ready to apply their learnings from the immersive AISTS experience.

 Speaking of alumni and the many benefits of the MAS, why take our word for it when you can hear it from the alumni themselves? 

Rida Ahmed, Athlete Relations at the IOC

Rida Ahmed graduated in 2019 and is currently working in the Athlete Relations & Engagement, Sports Department at International Olympic Committee. She was awarded the annual AISTS Future Female Leader in Sport scholarship because of her passion for sport and how it can inspire change in the world.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Rida lived in various cities in the nation before moving to Perth, Australia. “Growing up in two very competitive and sports-driven nations, I always had a great interest in sports and in particular trying to understand the stark difference in the management of sports in the two countries,” she says.

“Ever since I first heard about AISTS, I knew that was where I wanted to go and I had zero hesitation. Having the multidisciplinary approach in the AISTS programme allowed myself to be immersed into all aspects of the industry.”

Marely Flores, Women’s Football Tournament Manager at FIFA

Marely graduated from AISTS in 2008 and is now the AISTS alumni committee president. Her dream was always to work in football; and she is now the Women’s Football Tournament Manager at FIFA.

“I don’t know where my passion for football came from, but it is something that has always been there,” Marely says. “Growing up in Mexico I watched every single match of the championships and I knew all the players. Working in football was my dream.”

It was that dream that ultimately led Marely to Lausanne, Switzerland to study with the AISTS.

“The MAS program was truly one of the best years of my life,” she says. “In my hometown, I was the only one who loved sport to that extent. But at AISTS I was surrounded by people that shared that passion. It turned out to be the exact platform that I needed to get into the sports industry, and I learned so much about every aspect of sports management and the Olympic movement.”

Ben Cohen, director at World Anti-Doping Agency

Ben Cohen, director of the European Office and International Federation Relations at the World Anti-Doping Agency, is another AISTS success story.

“The more transverse approach of AISTS introduced me to the broader aspects of sport from medicine to technology, management and sociology,” he says. “I wanted to get a broader and more rounded perception and understanding of sport and being at the AISTS taught me so much.

“Being in Lausanne at the heart of the sports world - also meant that, in addition to great lecturers, we had different experts talking to us nearly every day. To have so many people with real operational experience at the highest level makes it truly unique. It is an amazing programme where I met people from all over the world with different interests and backgrounds. The course itself and the people I met along the way have been so important for me.”

Become a future leader in sport

And this is just a small sample of the many graduates who changed their careers -- and their lives -- with help from the AISTS.

If you’re looking for a truly exhilarating profession, you will find it in sports management. One way to uniquely position yourself to hit the ground running? The Master of Advanced Studies degree at the AISTS in inimitable Lausanne. Applications for the September 2020 intake for the class of 2021 are officially open with a May 1st deadline. Apply today to take your place among the next generation of the sports world’s future leaders!

Article written in association with The International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS).