The Decision

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This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.


By: Jordan Leatherman, @JordanKay13

“This fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach…”

In 2010 after seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James announced he was taking his talents to Miami and free agency has never been the same.

Fortunately sports business professionals are always unrestricted free agents during their career (except for the occasional non-compete). However, that does not make the decision to change jobs or go back to school for an advanced degree any easier. So without further ado here are the five things to consider before 12:01 a.m., Jim Gray and ESPN not included.

1. Could this lead to a ring?

a. No, not an actual ring, although that is a possibility in some cases. What I mean is would this job or degree advance your career? What would be the next move at your current job? If you’ve tapped out of places to go in your current organization it might be time to consider options for growth.

2. Is this the dream team?

a. The idea of playing with the best is appealing, just ask Kevin Durant. Several teams, leagues and agencies are at the forefront of digital integration, fan engagement and corporate social responsibility. The opportunity to learn from the best is something that you will continue to capitalize throughout your career. Advanced degrees will also allow you to learn from people within the industry and provide great networking opportunities to use in the future.

3. Is your job done?

a. Remember the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of your job, what does that list look like now? Have you set the record for scoring or won three rings? If its close to being checked off it may be time to set yourself up for a new challenge, like bringing a championship to a city that has waited 52 years.

4. Call your agent.

a. I know you don’t have an actual agent, although that would be cool. What I mean is talk to your most trusted advisers a mentor within the industry, a professor from undergrad or even your peers. Layout your long-term goals you want to achieve. These people want the best for you and let them play devil’s advocate as you defend your choice.

5. Listen to the real MVP.

a. Finally after all of the above have been considered it really comes down to your gut. You know what you want to accomplish in your career, now its time to just do it. The decision isn’t going to be easy but as the clock nears midnight and the pro/con lists have been completed you have to ask yourself, why not? Just remember to be a professional because as you know the sports industry is small and burning bridges and jerseys are frowned upon.

If you feel like you are at a crossroad, I highly recommend Amy Jo Martin’s “Why Not Now?” podcast. Amy spent part of her career working in and around the sports industry and is now interviewing “why not’ers” about the moment they decided well why not. Her first few interviews include Mark Cuban, Troy Aikman and Julie Foudy.