I've written about this before, but wanted to hit on it again. I've had a couple of students (not many) stop by my office lately to ask about future careers and the first or second question that has popped out of their mouths was about salaries in sports. I'm honest with them and tell them that it won't come in the early years, but it could come around year ten or so if they work hard. What I also tell them, though, is that they will love what they do.
I come from a very blue collar family. My parents went to work at jobs they didn't enjoy because that's what they needed to do to support the family. They didn't pursue their dreams. My aunts and uncles were the same way. Because of this, I knew very early on that I had to love whatever I did for a living. (Again, that's why I jump around so much. When I stop enjoying it or stop being challenged by it, I won't do it and be miserable.) I saw my parents pretty much hate their jobs and I vowed I would never do that. They went everyday and often worked overtime, but they didn't enjoy it.
The thing that I want to address is the idea that you need to do something you love, something for which you have passion. Money be damned. (See older blog on the difference between drive and passion.) Yes, we all need money to live and we all want to make a lot of money and be comfortable, but it's also important to love what you do. If you have a passion for sports and the sports business you're going to enjoy going to work, even if you have to make some sacrifices in the early years.
My friend Nick came and spoke in one of my classes recently. He hit on a very true point (and a funny one when he delivered it). The vast majority of people don't grow up rooting for companies. They don't come to school and say, "Wow! Did you see the decision that Staples made last week? How cool was that? What do you think that's going to mean long term for the company?" His point was that people don't grow up saying things like that about businesses. They grow up talking about sports and decisions that sports teams make. If you work in the sports industry you get to be a part of that. It's different even from being a fan. You're a part of the business, and that's even more fun than being a fan. You get to be a contributor. Consider that when you start to think about your future career.