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Sports management needs unique educational models

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Alyssa Walker :
While it may not seem obvious, sports management degrees focus less on athletics and more on finance, management, marketing, and law-as they pertain to the sporting industry.  Students graduate with the abilities to manage amateur, collegiate, and professional organizations and sports professionals while capitalizing on sports-related opportunities.  While many students choose sports management as undergraduates, it's not uncommon to see mid-career business professionals transition to advanced sports management degrees-they're interesting and lucrative.
The keys to success?  A positive attitude.  Self-reliance.  A willingness to push forward.  The Johan Cruyff Institute has it all.  According to Jordi Cruyff, the late Johan Cruyff's son, former footballer, and current manager for Maccabi Tel Aviv, "My father always told me that when I had doubts about a certain situation, to follow my intuition and do what I thought was humanly correct and professionally correct.  I always follow that advice."
What does the Johan Cruyff Institute have that other sports management programs don't?  A unique, student-centered model that pushes sports management students as hard as any professional athlete.  
A combination of passion and practicality, an understanding of the world, a global network, and the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.
1. Passion
Passion for sports comes first, above all else.  That's why the Johan Cruyff Institute requires that its students care deeply about sports-many of the students are athletes themselves.   The Johan Cruyff Institute offers students the unique opportunity to translate passion for a sport into growth, development, and business acumen. According to Johan Cruyff, the founder of the Institute, "My vision on sport management is quite simple. I think people with a passion for sport are the best to lead sport organizations."  Without it, why focus on sports?  Those who love the sport do well by their charges.
2. Practicality
At the heart of the Johan Cruyff Institute's educational model: learning by doing.  The Institute offers a Corporate Internship Program that places students at the heart of the sports industry.  Students access the behind-the-scenes work of sports management, and experience the reality of what it means to management a sports team.  Students gain the skills necessary to compete in tight job markets-adapted to their passions, interests, skills, and needs.  Additionally, students have the opportunities to learn from and interact with faculty directly from the sports industry.
3. Global Awareness
Sporting is international-different cultures approach sports management in different ways.  The Johan Cruyff Institute prepares students for the transient life of sports management professionals by offering students opportunities that maximize their understanding of cultural differences in the sporting world.  
The Johan Cruyff Institute prepares students for international endeavors by offering several campuses in different cities around the world.  On-campus and blended programs in the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, and Peru, combined with the flexibility of online courses make the Johan Cruyff Institute unique.  Students can combine their studies and travel to different cities and countries to maximize their learning-and their capacity to understand.
4. Network
It's all about connections.  The Johan Cruyff Institute mediates the relationships between potential applicants and the sports management industry.  International sports management companies hold the institute in high regard and look to its graduates often, posting jobs with career services.  By studying at the John Cruyff Institute, students experience a clear advantage in the sports management industry: they have worked with professionals in the field, interned with top-tier sports management businesses, and can bring their passion and know-how to the industry with dignity and grace-just like the most accomplished athletes.
Athletes know that practice makes perfect, but even the most talented athletes need positive, driven leaders to turn skill into success.
The Johan Cruyff Institute educates the next generation of Leaders in Sports Management. A sports management degree from the Johan Cruyff Institute offers any aspiring sports management professional the practice and the focus needed to be a successful and inspiring leader. The industry as seamless as the sport.  The team as graceful as the athlete. The unfailing positivity that allows your team to smile and say, "Good game," whatever the outcome.  Find it at the Johan Cruyff Institute.  You won't be disappointed.   

(Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family).

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