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Sport industry ‘largely overlooked’ when it comes to career choices

Sport industry ‘largely overlooked’ when it comes to career choices
June 28, 2022

While the publication of a new national survey which indicates that tens of thousands of sport industry jobs are expected to be created over the next decade is good news for the industry and wider economy, there is a lack of awareness of these opportunities.

Commenting on the newly released Deakin University report which indicates how major sporting events over the next decade will generate significant number of jobs in sport, Dr Hunter Fujak, Lecturer in Sport Management at Deakin University is concerned that there is a lack of awareness of their availability.

Dr Fujak told 7News “sport jobs are kind of like an iceberg … and part of the reason we don’t think of them is because we see the athletes on the screen, but it takes a village to grow an athlete.”

Behind the scenes, Dr Fujak says, are people who have studied coaching, sports science, business of sport and sports management.

He notes “it’s really interesting. When we watch the Olympics, it’s the athlete that stands on the podium.

“Really, it’s probably a whole team that deserves a medal.”

Fujak said that, in most instances, it came back to the public perception of sport being focused on the athlete, adding “there are so many different layers, at a local, state and national level.

“There’s a lot of stuff we take for granted because we see sport on TV and think it just kind of happens, but a lot of jobs underpin that.”

Dr Fujak feels the industry has largely been overlooked when it comes to careers, commenting “the industry has largely been overlooked because it only really professionalised over the last 50 years, specifically probably only 30 years.

“The starting point was probably world series cricket with Kerry Packer in the 1970s, but it wasn’t really until the 1990s that we really saw big commercial rights develop - which really created an industry that required professional practice.”

“Deakin University was one of the first in the world to offer a sport management degree inside a business school, not within physical education. That only happened in the 1990s.”

While most people don’t think of sports jobs beyond athlete, coach and commentator, Dr Fujak says in reality there are plenty of options, stating “I teach first year undergrad students who come in starry-eyed, knowing they love sport, but not necessarily knowing what that means for jobs.

“Part of my role is getting them thinking about what potential jobs actually look like.”

“There’s two sides - the professional and commercial side of sport, and the community side.”

“On the community side there are lots of jobs in local councils, there are people maintaining the parks and sporting facilities. There’s an abundance of jobs in these spaces.”

“The other half is the professional sport side, and that’s where we’re going to see a big boom in jobs over the next decade. We’re about to have all these major sporting events come, and when they do they require people to work in things like logistics, scheduling, facility management and more.”

Melbourne Vixens co-captain Kate Moloney, a student at Deakin University, advised “to many sport fans, roles like sport managers, physiotherapists and trainers may seem like ‘behind the scenes’ or secondary roles.

“For athletes, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We rely so heavily on a long list of trained sporting professionals to help us achieve our goals. Without their expertise, we simply wouldn’t be able to perform at an elite level.”

She said that the emergence of high-level women’s sporting competitions, including the AFLW and women’s A-League, buoyed the growth of the industry as a whole, adding “the more investment women’s sport leagues receive in Australia, the faster the entire industry will grow.

“It will also lead to a more inclusive Australia, increased job opportunities and improved infrastructure across metropolitan and regional areas.”

Employment levels in the sporting industry rose substantially between 2001 and 2019, according to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee.

But, in 2020, employment levels dropped by almost half to 61,000.

They recovered by 71% in 2021 to 104,200.

Dr Fujak concluded “we’re coming out of a slumber.

“We had a downturn during COVID, but now we’re poised to bounce back with a vengeance.”

Images: Newly released Deakin University research usggest there is a lack of awareness of sport industry employment opportunities (top, credit: Shutterstock) and Dr Hunter Fujak (below, credit: Twitter).

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