5 things you need to know about working in sports

by Matt stocker - employment manager at the florida panthers | February 15, 2019

Last month I transitioned out of my Ticket Sales Manager position and into Human Resources as our Employment Manager with the Florida Panthers. I spent the last 4 years with our Ticket Sales/Service team, and once I left to make the move up to HR it made me reflect on my career path thus far. Why do we work in sports? For me, the question is why would I want to work anywhere else?! I’m fortunate to be employed by the Panthers and have been for over 4 years now, and I never take it for granted. As amazing as our industry is, there are some things about it that are unique and different and I wanted to share my observations and experiences with you all in hopes it better prepares you for the road ahead. Best of luck!

1. You’re not applying for a job.

If you’re in sports, you’ve heard this before. I’m sure of it. You could be at that point in your career where you’re reading this post seeking an entry level position or internship to break your way into sports as your college days come to an end. An important thing to remember is that the sports industry will consume you. But instead of the sports world owning you, do what you can to own your sports world. We work in sports not because we are forced to be here to pay the bills, but we are here because we chose to be and we love what we do.

2. Don’t say “I want to get my foot in the door”

I personally HATE this line. Nothing drives me crazier than hearing someone talk about how they want to get into marketing but will take a spot in Ticket Sales to just get into the organization. Chances are you won’t make it, and that may leave a bad taste in your mouth about sports as you start hunting for your next position. When candidates reach out, they think they have a better shot saying they’re open to working in several different departments. What I really want to hear is you giving me a few bullet points on why you would come in and crush it for the specific job you’re applying for, or a future role.

3. Expect the unexpected

As we know from being fans of sports, we know that anything can happen at any point. Your starting goalie can pull a muscle and be out for months. Your all-star left fielder can make some questionable comments after a stressful game. Mistakes from the past can come back and haunt someone through the world of social media. As sports professionals, we must be ready. We can’t control what takes place on the field, ice or court but we need to be ready to stand with our PR team as a singular unit whenever we’re communicating with the public through the ups and downs.

4. You will love your 20,000 person office

I’ll leave this one short. Before coming to work for the Panthers I worked on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a newspaper (yep, newspaper advertising) company in the middle of an industrial park. Embrace pulling up, walking, taking the train, Uber or however you get to work every day to your 20k seat venue. This feeling never gets old to me, and it's important to remember that when you're having a tough day. It’s so cool and we're very lucky to be in this industry.

5. Love what you do. Or move on.

Working in the sports industry isn’t easy and like we’ve heard before, it’s not for everyone. If you’re an intern or working entry level and you find yourself not enjoying it, or it isn’t what you thought it would be, it’s okay to find something different. Dragging your time out isn’t worth it, and it will start to show in your work. Life’s too short, make the call to move on! Use it as a learning lesson and find something that fits you better. I’m a glass half full kind-of-guy and I’m always trying to see the positives in every situation.

No matter what stage you’re at in your sports career, I hope you come to work as fired up as I do every morning. We are very fortunate to be where we are, and if you’re looking to launch your sports career or you’re maybe seeking opportunities elsewhere in 19’, hopefully the insight above helps you get where you want to go. Best of luck!

-Matt

Matt Stocker has spent his entire sports career working with the Florida Panthers (NHL). He started his career as an Account Executive. After doing that for 3+ years he transitioned into Management where he became the Ticket Sales manager. He’s recently transitioned to Human Resources where he is the Manager of Employment.