Work in sports

It’s Game 3 of the 2017 World Series. The Houston Astros’ first baseman Yuli Gurriel hits a home run off of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish. While Gurriel celebrates in the dugout with his team, he makes an offensive gesture by ‘slanting’ his eyes and utters a racist slur in Spanish.

These actions aren’t just disrespectful. They are a glimpse into his character and personality.

Winners and losers — no matter who you are, you have the chance to exhibit a strong character. And the choice you make can impact your ability to find work in sports and build your career.

As a professional, you operate on a set of personal values. These are expressions of what matters most to you, and they guide your behavior throughout your career. Depending on what values you possess, you will either thrive or stagnate.

Here’s a list of positive and negative values that are common for those who work in sports:

Good Values

High morals yield a happier life and sustainable career success. When you exhibit positive personal values, you can make a big impact on the sports world.


This is more than just saying you’ll do something; this involves actually taking action. You will become known as the person on the team who keeps their word.

Successful athletes do this well. They work with their coaches and trainers and stay committed to making the right decisions every day. They eat well, exercise, rest, and repeat.

When you’re looking for work in sports, demonstrate to employers that you follow through. For example, dedicate time and effort to a side hustle and build something you’re proud of. Then, show your success to potential employers.

Being a Good Sport

A good sport is respectful of its opponents and understands that while winning is the goal. You should never make fun, complain or act immaturely when you win or lose. Learning how to win and lose is essential for personal and professional development.

Youth sports are where this value is often taught. At the end of every game, players are encouraged to line up and shake hands. These actions seem small, but they have a big impact on how you handle the ups and downs of life.

Don’t take setbacks personally and start whining or pouting. And, certainly, don’t gloat over promotions or reaching goals. Not only will this contribute to an eventual bad reputation, but also you’ll isolate yourself.

When something doesn’t go your way, like an idea being shot down or getting passed over for a promotion, focus on expressing appreciation for the ‘loss.’ Then, learn from it and move forward.
In those moments when you feel like you’re on top of the world, be sure to recognize those team members that helped you reach your goals and encourage those still working to reach theirs.


When big hitters strike out, or quarterbacks throw interceptions, they get right back to the field the next moment they can. The best athletes are resilient, and the same goes for professionals who work in sports.

Failure doesn’t overcome you. You use it as a growth opportunity and come back stronger than before.

This guides your career development and can even help you maximize your salary. When you’re ready to grind and develop a healthy level of toughness, you can overcome setbacks and quickly recover when things don’t go your way.


When baseball teams report for spring training, they come with their bags slung over their shoulder. But they also have their families nearby. You’ll see laser focus on training, but they’re also goofing around with their teammates or playing with their kids in between drills.

They do this because balance is healthy, both personally and professionally.

When you work in sports, you need more things in your life to give you purpose than just your career. That doesn’t mean your career is half-hearted. It’s just a good approach to living a fulfilling life.

This way, when you have a tough day at the office, you can feel satisfied in another aspect of your life, like pursuing a hobby or spending time with your family.

Bad Values

Michael Vick. Rajon Rondo. Ray Rice. Ben Roethlisberger. Tiger Woods.

These are some of the most talented athletes in recent memory. However, their accomplishments are often overshadowed by their bad reputations and poor character.

Some of them have several glimpses of success, but they fade quickly. If you possess negative personal values, you won’t get very far in your career.

Obsession with Winning

Every sports fan has seen it. The losing team storms off the field, dismissing a post-game handshake with the winning team. Or players pout and throw equipment as they storm out of the dugout and into the clubhouse.

Losing sucks.

Nobody will argue that, but if you’re only focused on winning, you’re going to run into issues. Obsessiveness leads to unhealthy behaviors and actions.

Trying your best is vital, but not at the expense of diminishing your character. Focus on actions and processes, not results. Ultimately, you can’t control the victory; you can only control the effort you put into it.

Pursuit of Fame

Many young athletes fall into this trap. They sign big contracts, then slack on their performance. It’s the social recognition that fuels them, not their work ethic.

When you work in sports, you’re also susceptible to this trap. Stop striving to impress your leaders and colleagues.

If you want to be the best of the best, do what the best do. Don’t just try to be a top performer for recognition. Social praise is great, but self-fulfillment is something you can control. Focus on that instead.

Toxic Masculinity

Confidence and being independent are important traits. However, toxic masculinity is an exaggeration of those qualities. It becomes toxic when you’re suppressing emotions and devaluing your relationships.

This happens in sports a lot. These extreme behaviors can even lead to domestic violence. For example, Danry Vasquez was a top minor-league prospect. Recently, a video was released showing him assaulting his girlfriend in a stairwell. This led to his release from the Atlantic League of Pro Baseball team he played for.

The sports world has no place for people who value this kind of toxic masculinity. If you inflate your sense of self-worth to the point of disregarding others around you as lesser beings, your career will derail in no time. You will not only hold yourself back in the workplace but also in your personal relationships.


Competition can set athletes up for disregarding others’ feelings. They want to win, but that shouldn’t influence their ability to feel empathy in their daily lives.

It’s good to be driven, but don’t forget that others have feelings. This leads to egocentricity and antisocial behavior. When you work in sports, focus on building positive relationships.

In other words, when you’re competing for a sports job or a big promotion, focus on being the best, most authentic version of yourself. Instead of trying to undercut your competition, get to know them.

If you walk into a group interview, shake other candidates’ hands. Ultimately, if you don’t get the job, they’re not the ones standing in your way. You are.

It’s hard to understand personal values because they’re running in the background, like an operating system on a computer. Focus on bringing them to the surface so you can identify what drives your behavior. Once you recognize what your values are and what values you want to develop, start making changes immediately.

What are the main personal values you use in your sports career? Share in the comments!