Northwestern College will offer a new major in sport management starting this fall. The interdisciplinary program enables students to take courses in kinesiology, business and economics, communications, computer science and math and will prepare graduates for jobs in the growing sport industry.
There is much interest in the major among prospective students, according to Charlie Couch, Northwestern’s registrar and director of institutional research, who tracks market demand for college majors. Couch alerted college administrators when requests for sport management increased from 50 inquiries in 2008 to more than 80 inquiries this past year.
Sport management marks the fourth major for Northwestern’s kinesiology department, which also offers majors in athletic training, exercise science and physical education. In addition, the department offers health and physical education minors and career concentrations in fitness and sport management.
Students pursuing a sport management degree can choose among three tracks: coaching/athletic administration, sport marketing/finance, and sports information/media. Before they intern off campus, students will gain hands-on experience in coaching, event marketing and management, and sports information through practicum experiences in Raider athletics.
Dr. Earl Woudstra, kinesiology professor and women’s basketball coach, will direct the program. He says, “Sport is a big part of our culture, including here at Northwestern. This is an opportunity to positively impact sport from a Christian perspective not just as coaches and players, but also through our curriculum and graduates’ careers in sport.”
Dr. Paul Bartlett, kinesiology department chairperson, says career opportunities for sport management graduates will be plentiful. Sport is the 11th largest industry in the U.S., and the Department of Labor predicts employment opportunities in the field will grow 15 to 23 percent during the next decade.
According to Bartlett, graduates might manage sports teams or events, fitness clubs, community recreation programs, or the active lifestyle promotions of companies or organizations. Other career opportunities include sports marketing, merchandising, or media relations, including sports writing or promotions design.
“Northwestern’s mission is for graduates to participate in God’s redeeming work,” said Bartlett, “and sport needs redemptive people—not just as athletes and coaches, but at the level of sport administration as well.”