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What Career to Choose When You Love Sports but Can’t Play Sports

It’s the end of the ninth inning and the team’s best power hitter is at the plate. It’s overtime and a team is on first and goal. There’s three seconds left on the shot clock, and the point guard has possession. It’s moments like these that get everyone’s adrenaline up – even non-athletes who just love the game. If you find your heart racing throughout major sporting events, you might consider making sports into a career.

They say you should do what you love, but for non-athletes passionate about sports, that directive is a difficult one to follow. You’ll never be good enough to get on the court with Lebron James or on the field with Tom Brady, so what could you possibly do to pursue a career in sports?

In truth, for every athlete playing the game, there are dozens of people behind-the-scenes, working to ensure the game goes smoothly. Here are a few non-athletic career paths you might consider if you just can’t get enough sports.

Athletic Trainer

Professional athletes work their lives to develop the speed, strength and endurance they need to excel in high-level sport, but all that effort can be stripped away in an instant due to injury. An athletic trainer understands typical athletic injuries and thus is equipped to assess injury severity and develop treatment plans to get athletes back on the field/court/track/etc. You would make an excellent athletic trainer if you have experience in healthcare and aren’t squeamish about the human body.

Physical Therapist

After an athletic trainer has made a decision regarding an injury, a physical therapist helps athletes recover quickly and safely. Working in this field requires an advanced degree in physical therapy and Board certification, which can take time. However, physical therapists work with all sorts of populations, from the elderly to chronic pain sufferers to surgery patients and more, so you will always be able to find work, even if it isn’t in sports.

Sports Manager

Sports managers are some of the behind-the-scenes professionals you curse when your team loses a game. They handle business matters for a sports team, which means they build and balance budgets, negotiate contract terms, hire and fire support staff and manage media relations. You can take sports management courses to prepare for this career, but it is helpful to have a background in business management, as well.

Sports Photographer

Competing athletes are among the most difficult subjects for photographers because of their constant movement. If you are skilled behind the lens, you need to invest in the proper equipment to balance lighting and motion at sporting events. Often, teams and media organizations have photographers on staff to take photos for marketing or publicity purposes, but you can also sell your photos to websites, newspapers and even fans.

Sporting Event Coordinator

Even the smallest sporting event requires months of planning and preparation. A sporting event coordinator understands various event needs and devotes time and effort to arranging event details, so athletes, audience and everyone else can enjoy themselves. Having a background in event planning is advantageous for this career as is a degree in hospitality management or something similar.

Sports Psychologist

Physical health isn’t an athlete’s only concern; the stresses of high-level athletics as well as fame can take a mental toll, which is why so many athletes rely on sports psychologists. Unlike other psychologists, sports psychologists tend to focus on connecting the mind and body to set and obtain goals. Also, unlike other psychologists, sports psychologists typically only need a master’s degree to practice, but higher-level certifications and specializations can be useful.


While jocks might focus on strength and stamina, nerds know that sports always comes down to numbers. Sports statistics are valuable for tracking crucial data, such as the number of points scored per game per player. By compiling and analyzing this information, statisticians can draw more accurate conclusions regarding athlete and team performance, which helps other sports professionals and fans make more accurate decisions in recruitment, drafting, coaching technique and more.


Sports scouts attend high school, college and other amateur sporting events to find the next big talent for their teams. Sometimes, scouts even surveil professional-level games and meets to determine whether a professional athlete is a right fit for a team or position. To function well as a scout, you need to love sports — all levels, since you’ll primarily watch amateurs as opposed to professionals — and you’ll also need an eye for talent and a talent for persuading young athletes to join your organization.

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