As we all know design is everywhere, even on a football field. If you are a sports fan, which I am, it can be very rewarding to work for a professional sports team and also very challenging.
When I worked in advertising, I had several accounts and each account presented it’s own unique challenges and client objectives. It’s the same in sports. The only real difference is that you are selling a team. Even if your client, for example a bank, has a great service team, it’s not the same as designing for a sports team with dedicated fans worldwide. You just don’t see people tailgating in the parking lot hours before the bank opens no matter how much they like the branch manager.
This brings me to my first point…
1. Instant Classic.
I never saw an annual report of mine for sale on ebay, but I’ve seen the tickets, posters and game programs I’ve designed. It might sound corny, but you are creating items that will be collected by fans and handed down by parents. You are responsible for a visual moment in the life of that franchise and it is not to be taken lightly. If you can’t match the passion the fans have for their team this career is not right for you.
2. You’ve Just Been Traded.
Since the product you are selling is made up of people, marketing plans can change the instant someone gets hurt, traded or signed. The business of team sports is to put the best team on the field, even if that blows-up your precious season-long campaign. Learn to role with the punches and adapt quickly, because they don’t stop playing games to wait for you.
3. It’s Not All Fun and Games.
Just because it’s sports, it doesn’t make it easy. There are no simple answers, you’ll need to listen and weigh all options before you proceed. Questions like who should be featured on the season tickets can quickly become complex and answers will be based on many factors out of your control. Who’s under contract, who’s holding-out, player trades, free agency acquisitions, new draft picks and even player retirements are among the things that can stall a project before it even gets started.
4. Look Who It Is! Look Who It Is!
Speaking of players, you will see and meet your fair share of famous personalities working for a sports team. You have to remember that they are there to do their job – as are you. Work is not the place to become a super fan and a photo-shoot is not the place to get an autographed ball for your uncle. So, if you are easily star-struck this might not be a good fit for you.
5. The Off-Season.
People assume that because your season is over you must not be busy. Plain and simple the “off-season” does not exist. Actually the off-season is the busiest time of year. So while coaches and players are not in the building – you will be. This is the time to plan, design and execute as much as possible, because when the coaches and players get back there will be more to do. Did I mention there is no “off-season?” Ok good, ‘cause there isn’t.
6. This Helmet Doesn’t Fit.
Being willing to wear different hats is important. It not only shows you are a team player, but it can broaden your knowledge base. If you come into a team environment without being open-minded and willing to jump in and help out in other areas, a league like the NFL could stand for “Not For Long” in re-guards to your career.
7. Working 9-5
Ever watch football on Thanksgiving? While you are on your couch eating turkey leftovers, someone is working hard to bring you your sports fix. Remember the no “off-season” thing? Well guess what, it kinda applies to weekends and holidays too.
I hope I didn’t scare anyone off, because some of this list can easily apply to any design career. Although it can be hard to get your foot in the door, having the drive and determination that it may take to land a job in sports will serve you well once your there. Good luck!
Chris Modarelli is the Art Director for the Cleveland Browns. Heading into his 5th season with the Browns, he has designed everything from season tickets and game programs to event signage and marketing materials.