Profile - Matt Winkler, American University


Where will the jobs be in the sports business in the next decade?

Who better to ask than Matt Winkler, the Professor & Director, Sports Analytics & Management at American University.

His own career is proof that you can take your passion (soccer in his case) and combine it with hard work and some good fortune and build a career and a number of internationally respected education programs. Recently Winkler launched the first Online M.S. in Sports Analytics & Management at American University. Previously, he founded the Georgetown University Sports Industry Management initiative (SIM) as its Associate Dean.

Winkler has more than 20 years of experience in the NCAA, NHL, WNBA, MLS, the Olympics, and the World Cup. He has led activations on five continents and was one of the first in the field to drive and teach global strategies for the sports business.

"When I started 30 years ago, the sports business was only 30% of what it is today,” he said. “Cable television and franchise expansion have been responsible for most of that growth and now we’re seeing new drivers."

75% of the jobs in the sports business are still in team sports, according to Winkler with the remaining 25% in media, marketing and agencies.

The most important factor in job success, Winkler says, is something schools cannot teach: work ethic.

At one of his early jobs as sports information assistant, Winkler recalls spending every Sunday night at his office to write a four-page insert for the Monday newspaper. He exposes his students to the demanding schedules of the sports business by emphasizing that their 10-hour workdays will usually be followed by nights and weekends at games and events.

Two of his other commandments of working in the sports business?

"You won’t be friends with the athletes and It’s not about you."

"You can’t control wins and losses but it can control you."

Of course, the payoff can be the experiences of a lifetime. Winkler has worked at three FIFA World Cups, two Olympic Games, and the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was able to share the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with 12 of his students from Georgetown who were embedded in the press office.

Back at home, Winkler brings big time talent on his graduate program’s Advisory Council comprising of AU alumni at organizations such as Nike, NBA, ESPN, NFL Players Association, U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Soccer Foundation, Octagon, Special Olympics & more, all in an effort to inspire but also them for job seeking in "the most competitive industry in the world."

Throughout his career, he has used business execs as teachers and sees that as a key factor in the long- term success of his programs.

Winkler is also the Co-Founder & Executive Director of an annual sports career conference known as the Sports Events Marketing Experience (www.TheSEME.com) an event that grew out of a training program he developed for global sports and entertainment giant Octagon.

That event has kept pace with the changing sports business world, which Winkler notes includes a "proliferation of sports media and consumers living on their phones."

The other big workplace change is the move to a virtual office. “Companies are broadening the concept of internships to include externships and other virtual experience.

"The future of work is virtual and the more experience students can get, the better off they will be."

Posted: 5/3/2021 3:41:13 PM

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