Degrees Do Not Shield You From Hard Work

Degree Shield

A degree is not a shield. Yet, some graduates act like it should be. Especially when it comes to paying dues in the sports industry.

First, I want to make something clear in this blog post: I strongly value higher education and have a master’s degree from Seattle University in Sports Administration & Leadership. A graduate degree, as with any degree of higher education, helps a person develop a fuller understanding of what achievements are possible to them.

However, I also hold the view that several of the young professions who attempt to enter the sports industry have made their graduate degrees into a barrier against the scourge of hard work. This means any type of sweat equity: dumping garbage, sweeping floors, or general labor. I feel there is a reluctance in some young professionals to actually do any type of work viewed as manual labor.

There Is No Shield From Hard Work

There is no steadfast rule which says that those with degrees in higher education cannot or should not “put their backs into it” when working for a sports franchise. And yet, too often, that is exactly what is happening.

Some of this “work smart” thought process comes from the idea that by earning a graduate degree, the young professional is avoiding hard work altogether. The idea of “skipping a step” comes up way too often in an argument for graduate school admissions. No young professional, whether they have a master’s degree or not, should ever wish or yearn for the ability to “skip a step.” Ever. They are doing a complete disservice to their own career if they are allowed to avoid general labor tasks.

Avoid Trying To Skip Steps

“Skipping steps” is a very shortsighted approach to a career that will span decades. The young professionals who hold this mindset will incur a cost to their own sports business acumen development. By avoiding tasks, you eliminate the experience that comes with that effort. Even the most mundane jobs are worth a person’s time because they build acumen.

It’s one of the silliest reasons for obtaining a graduate degree anyway. It’s also horrible to assume that by avoiding simple labor tasks the young professional will accelerate in the franchise. It can actually have the opposite effect in the eyes of any sports executive who views the young professional as unwilling to work any task in front of them.

The goal of anyone in the sports industry is to be willing to go above and beyond the requirements of what is asked of them. This helps not only build revenue for the franchise, it also provides the young professional with valuable experiences that will continue throughout their career.

Sweat Equity Builds Character & Leadership

But a lot of young professionals cost themselves by not viewing hard work as part of the equation. Instead, they think of their degree as a shield. As if a degree means you do not have to do little things. This is not something that you can learn on-demand. It must be obtained through sweat equity. That means dumping garbage, cleaning out bathrooms, sweeping floors. As unattractive as that may sound, it can help a young professional recognize that in each of those tasks, it’s not just a customer service aspect for those in attendance, it’s also a character-builder.

Doing hard work, regardless of education background, helps the young professional understand each moving part of the franchise. There are no ways to implement a shield against the experience gained through hard work. That’s imperative when the young professional moves up in their career, understanding and evaluating what each position goes through and why it is important to the franchise’s success. Should a young professional avoid those tasks, as well as missing out on that knowledge, they reduce their acumen.

Think about that the next time that you are considering how much budgetary expenditure should come from concessions or game day operations. If you have no experience in sales, how do you justify the department that sells most of your product? It comes down to a specific issue of whether a young professional views themselves as a lifelong learner or just someone willing to become tone deaf once they get to a higher position with the franchise.

troy kirby

Troy Kirby is the creator of the Sports Sales Boot Camp. He will host the 2016 Sports Sales Boot Camp at ALSD in Pittsburgh.

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