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Leadership Lessons Learned From Sports

When you think of a leader, who comes to mind? You might recall the head of your department at work, the chair of an association you belong to, or even a political figure such as your state senator or the president. While managers of sports teams may not leap to mind as leaders, they still provide examples of outstanding leadership in American culture. If you love the world of sports and aspire to be a leader in your community, a career in sports management may be the right path for you.

The Importance of Leadership in Sports

Leadership is a complex concept based on a chain of relationships. Leaders often serve as mentors for mentees who later pay it forward by becoming mentors themselves. Today’s children and adolescents will one day be the business tycoons, lawmakers and political figures shaping the world. So the lessons children learn from leaders now will have a profound effect on the world they shape as adults.

So, how are children learning these important lessons about integrity, self-esteem and proper behavior? Many of them are learning from sports icons they see on television and on the field. Sports — and looking up to sports stars — is part of growing up in America.

If you have ever been on a sports team, you understand the bond that athletes, coaches and trainers share. In the professional and collegiate worlds, sports team managers play pivotal roles in a team’s success and often form close connections with star athletes. Great athletic idols learn lessons on sportsmanship, conduct and solidarity from managers and coaches, which makes leadership in sports management all the more important.

Key Leadership Lessons in Sports

Follow any sports team for a few years, and you’ll witness countless leadership lessons in sports. For instance, Mike Scioscia is an American baseball hero who epitomizes dedication, loyalty and persistence.

In 1980, Mike Scioscia entered the world of major league baseball as a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his 13-year career, he remained with the Dodgers and lived out his dream to improve Los Angeles sports. In 1981 and 1988, Scioscia helped bring his team to victory in the World Series.

After retiring from his role as an athlete, Scioscia continued to lead by serving as the team manager of the Los Angeles Angels, beginning in 2000. The fan community thrived under his leadership when, in 2004, he co-founded the Amateur Baseball Development Group, which raised funds to support baseball programs and to organize leagues for boys in Southern California.

In 2002, Scioscia received the Manager of the Year award and led the Angels to a World Series championship. Scioscia won Manager of the Year again in 2009. He continues to inspire athletes and fans alike to work hard and stay loyal to the teams they love.

Glen Sather, president and former general manager of the New York Rangers, is another stellar sports leader. Rare is the sports fan who has not heard of Wayne Gretzky, one of many players Sather mentored. During his time as the Edmonton Oilers coach, Sather recruited the young and talented Gretzky. Together, Sather and Gretzky won four Stanley Cup championships.

Sather’s leadership did not end when he resigned from coaching. He served as manager of the New York Rangers and helped as head coach during the team’s difficult transitions. Over the years, Sather remained a pillar of support, reliability and mentorship to some of hockey’s greatest players.

Scioscia and Sather are just two examples of leaders in sports management who dedicate their lives to inspiring others and to furthering athleticism with no demand for recognition.

Developing Your Own Leadership Skills in Sports

Strong leaders know who they are, the environment they want to change and the lessons they want to instill. While all of the classes in the Master of Science in Sport Administration program at Arkansas State University offer stepping stones to success in sports administration, the ESPE 6153 Sport Leadership course in particular can help you realize the type of leader you are meant to be.

The course covers skills and leadership principles necessary in the sports industry. You will learn how to identify organizational goals and strategies appropriate for various environments, cultures and conflict scenarios. Overall, the MS in Sport Administration program can prepare you to spearhead positive change in sports management.

Great leaders in sports management inspire players, coaches and fans around the world. With an MS in Sport Administration from Arkansas State University, you can equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary for leadership in an important arena, one that inspires today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Learn more about the A-State online MS in Sport Administration program.


Baseball-Reference: Mike Scioscia

Los Angeles Almanac: Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series

Angels Baseball: Angels Uniformed Personnel Community Involvement

Hockey Hall of Fame: Legends of Hockey

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