New Study Examines Work and Life in the Sports Industry

Friday, March 25, 2022

Published in March Special
 Issue of the Journal of Athletic Training

DALLAS, TX –  A new study, “Work and Life in the Sports Industry -  A Comparison of Work-Life Interface Experiences Among Athletic Employees” – appears today in the March issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association scientific journal. The special issue is dedicated to work-life balance topics.

“There has been such a prolific shift in the way our members and those of other professions are considering quality of life and work as we emerge from the past two years of the pandemic,” says NATA President, Kathy Dieringer, EdD, LAT, ATC. “This study sheds light on that trend as it began even years before. It is critical for employees and employers to make an honest assessment of the work environment to ensure appropriate balance, compensation, definition of responsibilities, management of hours, reporting hierarchies and job performance. NATA encourages that discussion and is eager to help set the course ahead for our members.”

“Our research included a review of work-life related literature from the sports industry with a focus on coaches, athletic trainers, athletes and other sports personnel,” said study author Allison Smith, PhD, assistant professor of Sports Leadership and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “Emphasis on positive organizational behavior, work-life and life-work enrichment is a key component in continuing this dialogue and setting practical expectations ahead.”

Key Points

  • Athletic trainers, coaches, athletes and the general athletic industry employees experience challenges balancing the work-life interface, most frequently brought on by organizational sources.
  • Researchers reported widespread coping strategies for improving work-life balance and decreasing work-life conflict, primarily stemming from the individual level.
  • Future authors can extend the literature by being clear about constructs, examining new contexts, exploring enrichment and promoting organization-level solutions.


Major Findings

  • Working in the sports industry can be a challenge because of seasonality, high time requirements, travel, irregular scheduling, requirements for face time, lack of autonomy and lack of staff.
  • Challenges result from various influences including sociocultural (gender expectations), organizational (level of administrative support), and individual (role salience).
  • Multiple studies suggest those working in athletics experience high levels of work-life conflict regardless of sex, marital status, family status or job position.
  • Common coping strategies include utilizing organization and individual tactics, such as cultivating a family friendly work culture, building support networks at work and away from work, improving planning and organizational skills, creating strict priorities, integrating work and personal life when possible, and building boundaries between work and personal life activities as needed

Study Design

A total of 69 peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2011 and 2020 that examined some aspect of the work-family interface in relation to the sports industry were included in the literature review. Three electronic databases (SPORTDiscus, PsychINFO and Google Scholar) were searched to find pertinent articles. Of the studies conducted, 53.62% focused on a mixed sample of men and women, 24.63% on women, 13.04% on men and 8.69% didn’t report the gender of their participants.

“The focus on performance, competition and winning in sports has significant repercussions for those working in the sports industry,” says Smith. “Understanding the theoretical and practical sides of the work-life balance will continue to be useful in creating successful and manageable work and non-work commitments and improving overall quality of life. We hope this study serves as a springboard for further discussion and development of solutions to create that important balance.”

March is National Athletic Training Month with the theme of athletic trainers Providing Health Care Everywhere.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession.  Visit for more information