When it comes to sports careers, even specialists benefit from varied skills.
Does that not quite sound right? Well let me take some time to explain. Even if you’re sure you will be the next major league umpire or future general manager of the Detroit Tigers, it is important that you develop a variety of skills.
Sure, you can become an umpiring guru by reading about the history of calling the game, attending schools, and working games each summer. But it will not hurt to develop other skills.
If you’re in college, you never know which elective could prove helpful. Perhaps some psychology classes could one day help you handle a difficult manager or give you the mental toughness to handle a rowdy crowd. A future general manager may find a political science class or two helpful in dealing with owners and players.
Besides your schooling, a varied work experience also can help. A future baseball umpire may benefit from officiating basketball games in the winter. That job will provide experience in a similar position. The different action could develop some new skills. A future baseball general manager certainly can benefit from doing various baseball jobs along the way: scout, manager, player development, etc.
Even athletes, who typically excel by spending hours practicing on their skills, benefit from communication skills in terms of serving as a spokesperson or dealing with media. At least up to some point in their careers, some athletes benefit from playing a variety of sports.
Also, in taking on some additional challenges, you may find new skills that you want to develop further. Or perhaps you will discover new career possibilities.
In my own life, I probably know more about the horse racing industry than 99% of the people in this country. Yes there are people who know more but I consider myself to be an expert in this field.
That said, I made myself an expert on college football and college basketball when I covered those sports. In a career, there is time to develop expertise.
My skills have been varied. I have worked as an editor, page editor, and writer. All of these experiences have helped me in my current careers.
While some people may consider entrepreneurs to be specialists, a study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business revealed this not to be the case.
The sports career field includes many entrepreneurs: sports agents, league founders, fitness trainers, and athletes. According to the study, people in these types of careers typically take a wide variety of classes.
Stanford’s Jack Steele Parker Professor of Human Resources Management and Economics Edward Lazear wrote that entrepreneurs typically enjoy a variety of different jobs in their work experience and study a more varied curriculum while in school. He based his opinion on a survey of 5,000 Stanford MBA alumni.
Combining Expertise, Varied Skills
When I graduated from college, I took jobs at newspapers. Since then I have moved to a magazine that also offers a popular web site and a daily newsletter that is e-mailed to subscribers. I also work as an About.com guide and have written a book for young people. Things change and it’s important to adjust.
That said, expertise certainly is attractive as well. Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. certainly has carved out a great career by becoming one of the biggest experts on the NFL Draft in the world. Even Kiper has varied skills. He certainly is gifted at reaching out to others in his writing as well as appearances on television, radio, and the Internet.
A college professor once told me about a graduate who found a career writing science stories. His science interest started when he developed an interest in the college observatory. He became an expert in science writing.
In sports careers, expertise is valued but varying skills can certainly be helpful.