Recap: Working in the Business Side of Sports

Looking back on the first half of 2022, it’s been a truly remarkable period for BlackTies so far! Much of our organization’s success can be attributed to the close collaboration and expert knowledge shared by individuals and organizations keen on helping black professionals succeed.

Today, we’re throwing it back to our event in May where we partnered with Black In Sport Business (BSB) for a panel discussion on the realities of working in the business side of the sports industry as a black professional. The panelists included Justin Bobb (Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at MLSE), Roger Jones (National Partnerships at The Brandr Group), Amber Hutson (Account Executive, Olympic and Paralympic Marketing at GMR), and Brian Richardson Jr. (Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Indianapolis Colts).

In North America, Black athletes dominate many sports teams however, Black professionals are underrepresented on the corporate side. Our panellists explained that the main reason is the lack of awareness about working in sports. There is not enough knowledge out there about breaking into the business side of sport and the majority of individuals leading these organisations are not Black. However, this is starting to change and the sports industry is flourishing with opportunities. The sports industry is not limited to high-profile things such as ticket sales, marketing or player operations. As Amber pointed out “pretty much anything you are passionate about touches sports in some way!”

There are many benefits of working in the sports industry as a black professional. For Roger, it included creating long-lasting change in the industry and impacting the lives of young black athletes. In the past, many athletes could barely make a dime off their name alone, now there are opportunities available where they can become more than just athletes such as building a brand for themselves or featuring on podcasts. These opportunities create an avenue for the athletes to make additional income. 

The unfortunate truth is that many Black professionals in the sports business get hired to focus mainly on diversity work, but do not let that discourage you. Brian points out, “You could have been hired as a token but it is what you do when you have access to those spaces that matters.” Working on the corporate side of sports you are in many rooms where decisions are made that will directly affect Black athletes and you can try and influence those decisions. He also shared that in his experience of working as a Black professional in the sports business, many racialized athletes feel comfortable voicing their concerns directly with someone they can relate with. Justin referred to this scenario as “the meeting after the meeting,” where athletes gather to have a conversation about their genuine feelings and reactions to a meeting that just occurred.  

This is just a recap of the event. You can find the entire discussion of the Working in the Business Side of the Sports Industry event on Youtube.

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