The Least Desirable Jobs in Sports
To most outsiders, working in the sports world has an aura of glamour. With league revenues through the roof in recent decades, players' salaries climbing with seemingly no ceiling in sight, and all of the booming business ventures connected to our favorite games, working in the industry is a dream for many.
But not all jobs in sports are perfect. No, some carry extra baggage, whether it be in the form of lofty expectations, overbearing bosses, or impossible tasks.
And even though those jobs may be associated with legendary franchises and appear at first glance to be highly sought after positions, the devil is in the details, as some jobs are just not worth the prestige associated with the position.
Here are the nine least desirable jobs in sports.
9. NCAA Compliance Manager at Any College
Would you want to spend your days trying to make sure hundreds of 18- to 22-year-olds complied with every word of the NCAA's 408-page Division I Manual?
I didn't think so.
With recent scandals at USC, Ohio State, UNC, and Miami (Fla.), it's clear this job isn't getting any easier. It's reached the point where there is much talk of dismantling the NCAA because trying to police these kids is a losing battle, and pundits are pushing pay-for-play schemes for the two major sports (football and basketball).
8. New Orleans Hornets GM
After what we all witnessed with the nixed trade of Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers back in December, is it any wonder that Dell Demps' job as GM of the Hornets would be included in this list?
A pro sports league becoming involved in the player personnel decisions of a league-owned team is never a good idea. Ask fans of the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), the organization bought by Major League Baseball prior to the 2002 season.
During MLB's four-plus years of stewardship, the Expos hemorrhaged first-tier players like future All-Stars Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore, as well as star and potential future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and No. 2 starter Javier Vazquez, resulting in a 67-95 final season north of the border.
Then, after the franchise was uprooted and moved to Washington, D.C., after the 2004 season, Major League Baseball unsurprisingly greeted fans of the newly relocated squad with consecutive last-place finishes in 2005 and 2006, when the club was purchased by a group led by Ted Lerner.
Despite being given the blueprint for how NOT to run one of its franchises should league ownership be necessary, David Stern and the NBA owners nevertheless blocked the Paul deal, a trade that would have gotten the Hornets quality players in return for a guy who would be departing in free agency after this season.
Although Stern's stated basis for the league's decision of "basketball reasons" couldn't be any more opaque, one thing is crystal clear: Dell Demps has his boss on speed dial so that he can get approval for everything he does.
Trade Chris Paul? Call David Stern.
Hire a new water boy? Call David Stern.
Take a leak? Call David Stern.
7. Ad Sales for NHL Telecasts
In the United States alone, more than 111 million people watched two of the most iconic franchises in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, battle in Super Bowl XLV.
Last year's NBA Finals between Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat's new Big Three garnered an average of 17.3 million viewers during each of the series' six games.
An average of 16.5 million people watched each game of last year's World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals' dramatic seven game victory over the Texas Rangers.
The Stanley Cup Finals? The NHL's championship pulled in a mere 4.56 million viewers per game. It can't be easy trying to sell ad spots with those types of ratings, especially when a handful of games are on a TV network half of America couldn't pinpoint on the dial (yes, I'm talking about you, Versus, now the NBC Sports Network).
And even though the ratings trended upward over the course of the seven-game series and Game 7 drew the NHL's biggest audience in 38 years, it can't be good for business when Adweek publishes an article detailing how your league is "on thin ice" in terms of ratings after the first two games of the Finals.
6. New York Mets Lawyer
Gone are the days when attorneys for the Mets handled only things that relate to the operation of a baseball club, like drafting player contracts, forging relationships with corporate partners, and even facilitating the Mets' move from Shea Stadium to Citi Field in 2009.
Now Mets lawyers get to spend their days defending team owners Fred Wilpon (at left) and Saul Katz against allegations that they were knowingly involved the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
It sounds like their job has became a tad bit more demanding, no?
5. Duke Football Head Coach
Some schools are football schools. Others are basketball schools.
Then there are schools where one sport owns the entire campus culture and won't give an inch: like Duke with its basketball team.
He has coached seven Naismith trophy winners, recently passed Bobby Knight as the winningest Division I coach ever (with 913 wins and counting), and has the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium named after him.
Contrast that picture with Duke's football team since 1980. In that time period, the Blue Devils squad has had only five winning seasons and played in just two bowl games, losing both (1989 All-American Bowl and 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl). They failed finished in the AP Top 25 during that stretch.
Not to mention, the football team plays in outdated Wallace Wade Stadium, which seats only 33,941 fans, while attendance typically languishes at around 25,000 per game. In fact, in only one season (2010) have the Blue Devils attracted 30,000 fans to four or more home games.
Meanwhile, Cameron Indoor Stadium (capacity: 12,000) is generally a packed house for Duke basketball games, with students camping out on a lawn appropriately called "Krzyzewskiville" to gain admission to big games.
It's pretty clear that while some football teams play second fiddle to their school's basketball squad, the Duke football team isn't even given a fiddle at all.
4. Dallas Cowboys Head Coach
But, before the Cowboys' 34-14 pasting of the Eagles in the playoffs two seasons ago, the team hadn't won a playoff game since Dec. 28, 1996, and since their last championship (in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers), the Cowboys are barely above .500 in the regular season (130-126).
Only one coach lasted five seasons (Johnson, winner of two rings), and only two others lasted four seasons (Switzer, winner of one ring, and Parcells, winner of two rings with the New York Giants).
Many blame Dallas' recent failures and unending coaching carousel on Jones' refusal to let go of the reins (he also serves as the team's president and general manager) in the face of the team's clear downward trend since the mid-'90s.
Jones' persistence is reminiscent of Al Davis, another aging owner who refused to go gently into that good night, instead thinking he still had a knack for football operations well past his prime.
One thing is for certain: with Jones still running the show and dropping in on the sidelines at the end of games, the Cowboys head coach is never completely in control of his team, is stuck with talent hand-selected by his under-qualified owner, and will probably be on the chopping block in short order.
3. The Yankees' First Post-Jeter Shortstop
Jeter has consistently risen to the occasion under the bright lights of Broadway over 17 seasons (and counting), and the result is celebrity known only to an elite few athletes: celebrity that transcends the sporting world.
When Jeter and the Yankees part ways, Yankees fans are going to be faced with the new, bleak reality of staring at a new shortstop in pinstripes. And whatever player is unlucky enough to find himself in that role will have impossible expectations to satisfy.
2. Any Coach Who Succeeds John Calipari
The Minutemen's sole Final Four appearance was later vacated, as was their entire 1995-96 season, after it was discovered that Camby took more than $40,000 from an agent while in Amherst along with jewelry, rental cars and prostitutes.
Calipari moved on to New Jersey, where he was the head coach of the NBA's Nets for two-plus years, compiling a 72-112 record before getting canned 20 games into the 1998-1999 lockout-shortened season.
After a year off from coaching, he took the reins at the University of Memphis, where he won 20 games in each of his nine seasons as head coach and won 30 or more games four times. His 2007-08 squad, led by future Chicago Bull Derrick Rose, went 38-2 and lost to Kansas in the NCAA championship game.
But, like UMass' 1995-96 season, Memphis' shining moment was wiped from the record books after an NCAA investigation revealed that Rose had another person take the SAT for him and that his brother was receiving free travel from the University, as well as a host of other shady dealings.
Before the 2009-2010 season, the University of Kentucky gave Coach Cal $31.65 million over eight years in an effort to resurrect its legendary, yet sputtering program. In his first two-and-a-half seasons, the Wildcats are 76-13, with one Elite Eight and one Final Four appearance under their belts.
Unfortunately for 'Cats fans, the rumblings about improprieties are already bubbling to the surface. But should they have expected any different?
And is there any basketball coach in a worse position than the one who follows Calipari and as to sift through the wreckage caused by his time in town?
1. Oakland A's Manager
Let's review the perks of managing in Oakland:
An outdated and cavernous dual-purpose stadium in a bad section of a dangerous town?
Consistent home attendance of what appears to be no more than 5,000 fans (despite the team's inflation of the number of butts in Coliseum seats?
A roster full of guys in the twilight of their career and a handful of floundering former propects?
No hope of getting your owner to loosen the purse strings until he can move the team to San Jose?
Who wouldn't want this job, right?
After years of competing with large-market teams by cycling a bevy of young and cheap talent through the organization until each player's asking price became too expensive, the A's have thrown in the towel on Oakland and have their sights set on San Jose and all of the Silicon Valley cash that that would come with a move.
Gone with the devotion to Oakland is the team's commitment to young talent, or seemingly competing in the AL West at all, until they secure the new ballpark.
Out this offseason were burgeoning front-line starters Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, as well as former AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey. The A's made no effort to re-sign the centerpiece of their 2011 offense, Josh Willingham, and lost Hideki Matsui, likely to retirement.
The A's best hot stove signing was Chili Davis, hired as the team's hitting coach. Although Chili might be good company on the bench, it's never a good sign when your best offseason signing is an assistant coach.
Managing in Oakland right now is a test of patience and tolerance, as Bob Melvin must guide the team through 162 games knowing that, not only is the system stacked against him, but his owner has Rachel Phelps-esque aspirations of stocking the team with the dregs of the league in order to hasten a profitable move.