Prof. Dheeraj P. Sharma, Director, Indian Institute of Management-Rohtak

Prof. Dheeraj P. Sharma is Director, Indian Institute of Management-Rohtak. He is also Professor at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. He has taught or presented research at several educational institutions in North America, Europe, and Asia. He has been instrumental in placing IIM Rohtak as the most progressive and breakthrough management institutes in the country. Prof. Sharma has a doctoral degree with a major in marketing and a double minor in psychology and quantitative analysis from Louisiana Tech University. His primary research interests are “relationships” in business domain. He explores relationships in the context of Workforce motivation (different levels of employees in an organization), behavioural channel theory (relationship between channels and organizations), international marketing strategy (cross-cultural relationship such as between brands across national boundaries), personal selling, brand management (relationship between consumers and brands), social media management (Human to Human Relationships), and ethics (Relationship between individual, organization and society).


As a sector, the sports industry is growing very rapidly, and the trends are also changing. Look at how the ‘Other than Cricket phenomenon’ is taking shape. Kabbadi, Football, Wrestling, Boxing, and Shooting are all coming up. It is a beautiful sight to see other sports and sports people shining amidst the country’s top cricket players. Another significant change we are witnessing is that the world requires many more events, but no one has the time to watch one match for five days to know who the winner is. India is witnessing similar trends with the growing popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pro Kabbadi League (PKL) and Indian Super League (ISL). With so many events comes the need for professionally managing sports. Besides, there is a complete ecosystem that produces sports goods, apparel, equipment and merchandise. There is a need for management in these organizations. Our market analysis shows that there is a dearth of professional sports managers who could cater to the growing needs of the sports industry.

According to a report published in Mint, the sports sector in India, which is constituted by sports equipment, sports apparel, nutrition, media rights etc., was worth approx. US$ 27 billion in 2020 and is likely to become almost four times and reach a value of US$ 100 billion in 2027. The sports sector provides employment to more than five lac people in the country. The biggest phenomenon today is the professional sports leagues, that are transforming the way sports is played and viewed in the nation. This is how sports industry evolved even in other countries. For instance, across the world the football industry is huge with the English Football League, the Premier League and so on.  Football clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool have been quite successful. Forbes lists their current values as follows: Real Madrid – US$ 5.1bn, Barcelona – US$ 5bn, Manchester United – US$ 4.6bn and Liverpool – US$4.45bn. What makes it interesting from a business perspective is that these clubs have been able to strike a balance between excellence in the game and making money through sponsorships and cultivating a brand name for themselves. India made a late entry into professional leagues, more than a century later. IPL started only in 2008.  But already it is said to the fourth most profitable league in the world. In 2014, the ISL, India’s super football league and the PKL, Pro-Kabaddi League kicked off. With growth comes complexity. We are now witnessing a need for professional management and corporate governance in this sector.

In order to adequately explore and build upon the potential of the sports industry, we need more qualified sports managers. We need to create an array of sports management professionals who can lead the growing revolution in the sports industry through cutting edge education and exposure. A scientific approach to managing sports will lead to multifaceted growth of the entire ecosystem. Globally the field of sports management is becoming more professionally managed using scientific research. We also see the growing importance of technology and data in the sector. India has consistently been trying to become a sporting nation where sports are played and managed professionally. It should be our endeavour to enrich the nation by creating professional managers in the field of sports management to bring global standards to India. It will not only strengthen core sports but also lead to the development of several technical and allied areas related to sports, such as event organizers, sportswear, equipment manufacturers, service providers, etc. Additionally, exposure is required in the areas related to technology management and use of data sciences in sports, which will further enable the burgeoning Indian sports industry to match the global standard of sports management.

Recently at a sports event in Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi applauded the efforts of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Rohtak to run a Post Graduate Programme in Sports Management. IIM Rohtak and only a hand full of global institutions have started programmes in sports management and allied areas. These Sports Management Programmes aim to expose the participants to an innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum at par with the best in the world that will ensure professional development, networking, and skills in sports finance, sports law, sports marketing and merchandising, and event management.

Sports management is a niche sector, and the awareness of professional management education is not very high. Some of our analysis reveals that sports, as a field, is conscious of the benefits that professional management brings; however, not enough people are ready to make that investment in themselves. The need of the hour is to reach out to a maximum number of aspirants who wish to take the sports industry to greater heights and make them aware of the need for learning and taking up education in the area of professional sports management.

Besides, we require much more awareness and appreciation for the athletes who give their lives and youth to sports. This appreciation can translate into many potential individuals taking up the field of sports management. The various sports management programmes at reputed colleges can provide a platform for our previous players and athletes to take up an alternate career in managing the sports industry. Especially after they have passed the age of playing active sports so that they can give back professionally and meaningfully to the ecosystem in which they grew up.

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