Column: Why I chose a career in sports

The New York Mets play the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 21, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Five.

As of April 2016, only five women had ever been hired in an MLB analytics department. Five women have held the job I hope to achieve. Just five. This number is low, even when it is taken into account that this is a relatively new field.

I was born on Long Island, and being a Mets fan came naturally. Baseball was an easy sport to fall in love with, but I never considered pursuing a career in it. I read Moneyball when I was 13 and I found an entirely new way to love the game: analytics. But I still never considered a career in it. It was never a logical choice. It wasn’t because I was afraid of what I might experience, it literally never occurred to me that this was a career path I could take.

That’s what’s so scary. When young girls think about what they want to do when they’re older, there shouldn’t be any limits. They should be able to choose anything they want, and be taught that they have what it takes to succeed.

It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I finally decided this was a path I could take, but I had no idea how to pursue it. I spoke with various advisors and received unhelpful and impersonal advice. The most notable being that I, an economics major, would never be able to work in sports because only those with a degree in sport management could logically succeed there.

I didn’t listen. From the moment I took an economics class, I knew that it was my major. I knew that was where my future was. Most sports management degrees do not allow for a focus in analytics. In my mind, there was no way that degree would be more relevant, but because of the bad advice, I panicked. I lost a lot of confidence and I almost gave up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about a career in sports. I never would have forgiven myself if I didn’t at least try.

Presently, I’m a student manager for UConn baseball. I’m a sports writer here at The Daily Campus. This summer, I will be a baseball operations intern in the Cape Cod Baseball League. So much has changed for me over the course of a year, and I’ve honestly never been happier or more optimistic about the future.

I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with people who have supported me, encouraged me and given me opportunities to succeed. I’m lucky. The unfortunate fact is that a lot of women pursuing work in this field are often undervalued, and don’t have these experiences.

There’s an assumption that women aren’t capable of working in sports, and this school of thought lacks any rational basis. Being an analyst or a reporter, even being a coach, doesn’t require being faster or stronger than another person. It’s all about intelligence. It’s about being well-researched and having a deep understanding of the sport. Gender plays no role in that; at least, it shouldn’t.

Therefore, being a woman automatically puts me at a disadvantage. All I can do now is work harder, study more and hope that’s enough to be seen as equivalent to a man. It’s not fair, but that’s the world we live in. That’s the life I’ve chosen for myself. And maybe, if I succeed, it will be just a little bit easier for the next woman. Maybe, one day, women will be able to consider a career in whatever field they want, with no hesitations. But until then, we have to work harder. We have to fight for what we want and hope that, in the end, it will all be worth it.


Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.schaefer@uconn.edu.