Sport is one of the world's top diversions, a way to escape political infighting and the humdrum way of everyday life. But what are the coolest jobs in sport? Here are some of the best, both in terms of participation and bringing sports coverage to audiences around the world.
Few jobs are as fast or financially rewarding as being an F1 driver. Unfortunately, there's a very limited number of slots available (the current grid is just 20 drivers) and it does help being a billionaire's son, as Nikita Mazepin and Lance Stroll will attest. But if you're one of the select few able to get your foot inside this automotive door, you're in for a great time. The likes of Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, and Lewis Hamilton have each amassed nine figure sums from a combination of salaries and sponsorship. Not to mention the famously glitzy lifestyle of real money casinos, supermodels, and incredibly fast cars. It's also become a lot safer from the horror show of the 1960s and 1970s, which had alarmingly high mortality rates, although Jules Bianchi's tragic crash in 2014 proves that for all the cash and glamour, there's still risk attached.
Putting your money where your mouth is forms the core of being a professional sports gambler at sites like Bet365 Casino. It's a lot easier said than done, however, as the concrete mathematical reality is this: the average for every bettor is to lose. It has to be, for the business model to function (betting losses fund sportsbooks and staff wages). However, sports betting is intrinsically different to other forms of wagering such as lotteries, bingo, and casino games. Sports betting is as much about judgement calls as anything else, and while luck plays a role it isn't the sole determining factor of success or failure, as is the case with the other mentioned betting categories. And here's a top tip for free: keep an eye on Twitter. If you catch breaking news regarding injuries or penalties you can get in and make a bet before a bookie has time to react and alter the odds.
This applies to plenty of top flight team sports, from major leagues in North America to European soccer clubs. There's a category of player who gets paid the same fortune as most of the first team but whose primary purpose is warming the bench. The sub can be a super sub, rescuing games from the jaws of defeat, or someone who effectively gets paid a five or six figure weekly salary simply for training. Sometimes a source of ridicule, sometimes a longed for saviour of a sporting battle that's going south, the sub is not to be underestimated. Or underpaid.
Even when there isn't a pandemic ruining live sport, only a limited number of people can watch in person. Most have had to settle for watching online and perhaps betting with free casino bonuses at the worst of times. Sports reporting is essential for people to catch up on the action (nobody can watch every single football match, after all). Better yet, those who get this gig get to watch sport for a living, and if you enjoy hockey, football, or any other sporting contest then this can be pretty close to a dream come true. From domestic matches, leagues, and tournaments, to world cups, Olympics, and the globe-trotting tennis, golf, and F1 calendars, there's a lot to cover. The proliferation of social media has even made this possible from a solo perspective, using blogs, video, and so on to bring your passion to the masses.
Going for a constitutional is a British expression for enjoying the healthy benefits of a good walk. And there's one sport which tallies perfectly with this: golf. Not only that, golf courses are beautiful locations with immaculately maintained greens and fairways, picturesque water hazards (only occasionally with a resident alligator), and prize funds big enough to turn a player into a millionaire overnight. Better yet, they're found all over the world, making it ideal for those who like to travel, and you can enjoy a leisurely chat with your caddy while strolling around the course. It's also a sport where very long careers are possible, unlike many others which have limited career windows.
There aren't many sports you can play down the pub, but snooker's one of them. It's got a major following in the United Kingdom, and is also hugely popular in China. Unlike many other sports it's one that practically everyone can have a go at by visiting a snooker hall, and you can get a feel for it shooting pool too. There's no need for excessive work down the gym, and the practice sessions often involve spending time chatting with friends. Top prizes can turn the elite players into millionaires, and while the average player won't make that much the game, and players, are a lot more down to earth than some of the fancy lads of other sports.
Different sports fans react to watching tournaments, matches, games, and races in different ways. We all know the shouty swearing spectator who revels in being annoyed. Less common but no less intense is the silent spectator who concentrates on every facet of the sporting action. But if you're a talkative type then being a commentator is pretty much the ideal job. Not only do you get to watch live sport, but you get to describe the action as it happens. And while it's true some commentators can be annoying, others become beloved household names, whether that's due to cunning insight or making amusing errors. The first names that come to mind are the outspoken Canadian commentator Don Cherry, or the late, great Murray Walker famous for both cunning insight and amusing errors - his comment: 'There's nothing wrong with the car, except that it's on fire.'
There's nothing greater than leading a team to sporting success, but in order to do that you have to be the boss. The coach of a team, whether it's football, hockey, soccer, or any other top sport, is responsible for motivation and strategy, and plays a crucial role in the victories and defeats that are suffered. Some are charismatic and smart enough to deliver a sporting golden age of a decade or more, and all (at the elite level) make a very healthy pay packet. It's fair to say it's also a stressful job, but it's only under the greatest pressure that diamonds are formed. From spotting, recruiting, and nurturing new talent to combining the top players into a perfectly integrated team, and instilling players with sufficient spirit and resilience to fight back and win when things are going poorly, the coach is critical to team success.
Another great option for those who love sport but are not necessarily the most adept at it personally is to become a sports photographer. This naturally requires getting up close to the action, meaning you get to watch sport for a living, and if you take the perfect picture then your photograph might just immortalise an epic moment. From outstanding goals to fiery crashes in motorsport, teary-eyed players to roars of success as trophies are held aloft, sports photographers have captured them all. From a working perspective, it's also one of the easier fields to get into, and offers the chance to work across a range of different sports, from the pleasant greenery of golf courses to the high tech world of motorsport or the team events of NFL, NBA, and MLS, as well as other popular sports that Canadians love to bet on.
A sporting event without officials keeping players in line and enforcing the rules is little more than a glorified game in the park. Referees, umpires, race directors, whatever the term for a specific sport, the officials, especially the leader of them, is an essential and sometimes underappreciated cog that makes the sporting machinery function. Needing to have the eyes of a hawk whatever the sport, and often requiring fitness close to that of the athletes themselves, sound refereeing decisions (for which Pierluigi Collina, the Italian soccer ref, was famous) can make a game. And bad decisions can ruin it. But if you're the ref then obviously you'll make the right calls. Plus the pay's pretty tasty and you'll never run out of work.
This isn't for the faint of heart, but NHL players can make a small (or large) fortune and earn stellar reputations from their icy endeavours. Just ask well-known Canadian champions Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux just how big an impact a single player can have not just on a team, but the whole league. NHL is one of the top sporting leagues in North America, making it great for Canadians and Americans alike, and the Stanley Cup is a cultural fixture that was first commissioned way back in the late 19th century by Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada. And as for the money... well, Wayne Gretzky isn't a typical player. But he is worth around a quarter of a billion dollars - making him one of the wealthiest sports stars in Canada.
It's not so big in North America, but in much of the English-speaking world cricket is one of the leading sports. It comes in a variety of formats, from the flash Harrys of the Indian Premier League and 20/20 sloggers to the more considered pace of the classic test match series. There are some serious rivalries in the sport, especially between India and Pakistan, two nations in which cricket has supporters so zealous it borders on religious. And the Ashes series between England and Australia has reached such a cult level that almost any sporting contest between the two sides is now referred to as an Ashes battle. The birth of the IPL has made it more lucrative than ever, with Mumbai Indians' players in 2019 averaging close to $5.5m a year.
The earning potential in cricket has shot up thanks to the IPL but if you really want to make a bundle, and are a tall chap, then the NBA might just be the coolest sporting gig you can find. It will involve serious dedication to training, but NBA average salaries in the 2020-21 season were around $7.9m, with stars making even more. The likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan have become household names, and in today's marketplace players of that quality are rolling in cash. Not to mention the chance of winning everlasting sporting success. Better yet, injury compensation is usually provided in contracts, so players who suffer misfortune (or even get cut from the team) receive financial recompense, providing a safety net that doesn't exist with some other sports.
Americans might believe in the major league sports, but across the globe there's only one game in town: football (or soccer, if you're Canadian/American). There are top competitions all across the world but a cluster of some of the best can be found in Europe, with the English Premier League leading the way. Not only can players earn six figure weekly salaries, the sponsorship potential is enormous and, unlike the North American major leagues, there's a regular global contest (the World Cup) which offers the chance for players to write their names into the history books on the international stage. The only real downside is that competition is intense for player spots, but there are so many leagues that even journeymen players can make a living with football.
Speaking of football, for many playing in the American version (also known as gridiron) is the single best sporting job in the world. It's intensely physical (ignore the rugby fan gibes about it being rugby plus padding, consider the padding to be akin to a boxing glove that allows far more powerful hits) and more strategic than the vast majority of team sports. Player careers tend to be very much like Mozart: brilliant but short-lived, with average salaries in the millions. Soccer stars may have the World Cup, but the Super Bowl rolls around every single year and in 2020 was the most viewed sporting event to bet on in the world (with more than 100m viewers in the US alone).
That concludes our top 15 list of the coolest jobs in sports, from solo pursuits to team games, participation to officiating and broadcasting. Let's hope the days of pandemic disruption will soon be forever behind us.