Create the ultimate sports cover letter (with examples)

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Create the ultimate sports cover letter (with examples)

The cover letter is an essential part of a job application. This is especially true in competitive industries like professional sports where the number of people trying to break in is high — anything you can do to support your case helps.

That’s why we’ve laid out our key tips for writing a cover letter in this easy-to-follow guide. We’ll break down each section for you, explain what it should accomplish, and back it up with examples throughout so you can see our advice in practice.

By the end, you should have everything you need to wow the hiring manager in your next application.

Before we get into the fine details, though, we have some general pointers for you to keep in mind when writing a cover letter.

Writing a cover letter for the sports industry: the fundamentals

  • Personalize your document for each application. This is a big one. While we know it takes longer, the sports industry is too competitive for you to rely on a copy-and-paste deal each time, and hiring managers can spot it from a mile away — trust us.

  • Highlight how your profile matches the job’s responsibilities. A hiring manager wants to see that you have the skills needed to perform their job successfully.

  • Show personality, but don’t go overboard. It’s tempting to spill your entire history as a sports fan onto your cover letter, but don’t.

  • Speak confidently; be direct. You’re selling yourself for a job here. Avoid terms like “I think I’d be a great fit for your team because…” and use “I’d be a great fit for your team because…” instead.

  • Be clear if you’re applying from outside the industry. Unfortunately, professional sports can be difficult to break into without existing industry experience. We’ll help you with this later in the article, but it’s important to state why you’re changing industries if you don’t have a background in sports.

  • Keep your cover letter concise. Your document shouldn’t be longer than one page. If you follow the guidelines we lay out, that’s plenty of room for you to highlight why you’re the right person for the job.

With all of that said, here’s an example cover letter we wrote for an imaginary job listing in sponsorship management at the NBA.

Hi there,

As a lifelong NBA fan with a track record of delivering above and beyond in B2B sales, I was very excited to see the Sponsorship Manager position open up in your New York office. From my five-year career in sales and business development, I know I have the skills needed to succeed in this role and make an impact from day one.

Most recently, I worked as a business development manager for a telecommunications company, identifying and pitching B2B phone solutions to businesses in my state. As such, I’m well-versed in establishing relationships with potential clients—something I know is required in this role—to the point where my client satisfaction score was 91% and among the highest in the team. In a company as well-known as the NBA, I know how important it is to offer an A+ customer experience throughout the sales lifecycle.

My career to date has also made me an expert in producing pitch presentations, one-pagers, and other documents for clients. At **previous company name** I took the lead on presenting our proposal to a major client that accounted for $1M+ of revenue for two consecutive years. This skill will prove invaluable when approaching brands that are interested in advertising within the NBA as I’m able to cut through jargon and tell companies exactly how our solutions will benefit them. I’ve found this trait to be extremely effective in sales.

I’m applying for this position because, after several years of developing my professional ability, I’m ready to bring that to an industry I care deeply about. I grew up on the NBA and have always appreciated a well-crafted activation like the Be Like Mike campaigns (both iterations). Taking a lead in shaping campaigns that have the same impact would be a dream come true.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to exploring my fit for this role further with you soon.

Best wishes,

Your Name

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In a few paragraphs we’ve introduced our candidate’s professional background, linked this directly to how it’s going to assist the NBA, and explained why they’re looking to move to professional sports.

Now we’re going to break down each section of the cover letter so you can see how to structure it for yourself.

1. Salutation

This is just a fancy word for how you open your cover letter. There’s no need to overthink this section: keep it professional, to the point, and personal (if you can) and you’ll be fine.

Use something like “Dear company name”, “Dear hiring manager”, “Hello,” “Hi there,” or—best of all—”Dear hiring manager’s name” (if you know it).

Avoid using anything informal like “Hey,” and be careful about using “To whom it may concern”. This is seen as an outdated opening with some modern, younger companies. But for older, more traditional companies, it’s still perfectly acceptable.

2. Opening

The opening paragraph of your cover letter is your chance to do two things: convey your excitement for the job opening, and provide an overview of who you are as a professional.

A hiring manager wants to open applications from people who are interested in the job they’re hiring for. If you make this clear from the first paragraph, then you’ll be positioning yourself well going forward.

Second, they want to make sure that the application is coming from a relevant, qualified candidate. You’d be surprised how many people apply to jobs that don’t match their profile at all.

You can usually show this with a single sentence. After stating how excited you were to find the vacancy, you could say anything along the lines of…

  • "I have two years of data analysis experience and am looking for my next opportunity in the sports industry."

  • "With three years of professional coaching experience under my belt, I have the type of discipline and commitment needed to succeed in a role like yours."

  • "As a qualified accountant who loves the sports industry (and its stat breakdowns!) I’d be a valuable addition to your finance team."

  • "Marketing and communications is my second love only to Sunday Night Football, making this role the perfect fusion of my interests."

Each of these examples very clearly show the candidate to be qualified in their field. Try something similar in your own document and see how it looks.

Now that we have the hiring manager intrigued and ready to find out more about our candidate, it’s time to move onto the body of the cover letter where we’ll be getting them even more invested.

3. Body

The body of the cover letter is where most of your attention should be going when creating your document. This is where you’re going to be connecting your past experience with the responsibilities of the job you’re applying to.

How do you do that though? We’ll tell you.

Open any job description on our website. Inside, usually in a bullet point list, will be the role’s main responsibilities. You want to find two or three of these that you can confidently do and back these up with your past experience.

Let’s say the two bullet points you’ve found are:

  1. Prepare budget forecasts for the company to present each month

  2. Make smart, data-driven recommendations on where business costs can be reduced

Let’s draw from our imaginary candidate’s past experience to show you what we mean about matching their skills to specific elements of the job description.

  1. "In my last role as a Financial Analyst, I was responsible for monthly budget creation for each of the organization’s departments. This experience will help me assist your company by turning complex financial decisions into clear points of action."

  2. "Having completed my BSc in Economics, I’d be very capable of making business recommendations to reduce costs. My expertise in Excel means I would always make these decisions with numbers and data at the front of my mind."

Each of these takes one of the responsibilities we listed earlier, matches our candidate’s profile to it, and explains why that means they’d succeed in that function.

This is what you must be doing in the body of your cover letter to have the greatest impact.

We’d recommend doing this with two or three responsibilities of each job you apply to. And here’s another tip: a company will tend to list the job’s most important duties at the top of their “Responsibilities” section, so try and make your picks from here.

The body of your cover letter is also a good place to address other requirements the job may have, including:

A driving license

  • You could say: I have a full driving license and car that is ready to use.

A coaching qualification

  • You could say: I am an ORGANIZATION NAME-accredited coach and can provide documentation upon request.

First-aid training

  • You could say: I am first-aid trained through ORGANIZATION NAME and can provide documentation upon request.

Software/program proficiency

  • You could say: I am fluent in the Adobe Creative Suite, particularly Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you tick off the above and keep this section to 2-3 paragraphs, then you’ll have shown the hiring manager that you have the professional skill set they’re looking for.

Now that’s done, we’re ready to begin closing the cover letter.

4. Motivation for applying to the job

A great cover letter will make it clear to the hiring manager that a) the person is qualified to carry out the job and b) that they have a genuine interest in both the vacancy and the company who’s hiring.

This is where your motivation for applying comes in. It’s also a fantastic place to address your lack of experience in the sports industry if you don’t have any yet.

Here’s a few ways in which you can approach this section:

Address why you’re looking to transition to the sports industry

If you don’t have a background in professional sports, then it’s best to mention why you’re transitioning industries in your cover letter. The natural answer, for most of you, will be that you love this industry and want to be a part of it. And while we’ll champion you for that, it’s unfortunately not enough in most job applications.

Instead, speak on why you want to work in sports. Are you a competitive person at heart? Do you love the prospect of creating content for the fans? Do you love the social element, the buzz, the energy that fills stadiums?

Whatever it is, it will make a stronger impression than a generic, “I love sports” — everyone applying loves sports. But if you can tell the hiring manager what you love about the industry then you’ll be separating yourself from the sea of other applicants.

Address what you respect about the company

If you’re applying to your city’s home team, then this should be easy enough. But even if not, there’s a lot you can mention.

Perhaps the company has an ongoing initiative that you support, such as a community outreach program. Perhaps their marketing and social team is second-to-none. Or perhaps the company places an added emphasis on offering flexible hours or remote working.

A sentence or two about why you’d like to work at this specific company is a great way to close off your cover letter and, by using one of the examples we’ve listed, will show that you’re well aware of what they stand for.

With that, we’re almost at the end of the cover letter.

5. Close

At this point in your cover letter all you need to do is sign off in a confident, respectful manner.

This could take the form of…

  • Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
  • Thank you. I’m excited to explore this role in more detail with you soon.

The only thing to avoid is being arrogant. Confidence is fine; overconfidence leaves a poor impression. So here are closes you shouldn’t use:

  • Thank you. I can’t wait to be the newest hire of COMPANY NAME.
  • Sincerely, your newest hire.

The end of the cover letter is no time to take risks. You’ve done so well to get to this point; don’t jeopardize it now.

6. Sign off

Almost there! Now that your cover letter is full of information that’s relevant to the hiring manager, all you need to do is sign off. As with the above section, the key is to be respectful and professional.

Good sign-offs:

  • Best wishes

  • Best regards

  • Regards

  • All the best

There aren’t many ways to mess up a sign-off. Stick to what we’ve listed and you’ll be golden.

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Phew! A deep dive through the cover letter and everything it should entail. We know that’s a lot of information to take in, so we’d suggest keeping this guide open the next time you write a cover letter so you can refer back to each section as you need.

We’d like to finish by returning to that example cover letter we wrote earlier and highlighting how each part slots into the structure we’ve shown you here.

(Salutation) Hi there,

(Opening) As a lifelong NBA fan with a track record of delivering above and beyond my revenue targets in a B2B setting, I was very excited to see the Sponsorship Sales position open up in your New York office. From my five-year career in sales and business development, I know I have the skills needed to succeed in this role and make an impact from day one.

(Body) Most recently, I worked as a business development manager for a telecommunications company, identifying and pitching B2B phone solutions to businesses in my state. As such, I’m well-versed in establishing relationships with potential clients—something I know is required in this role—to the point where my client satisfaction score was 91% and among the highest in the team. In a company as prolific as yours, I know how important it is to offer an A+ customer experience throughout the sales lifecycle.

My career to date has also made me an expert in producing pitch presentations, one-pagers, and other documents for clients. At **previous company name** I took the lead on presenting our proposal to a major client that accounted for $1M+ of revenue for two consecutive years. This skill will prove invaluable when approaching brands that are interested in advertising within the NBA as I’m able to cut through jargon and tell companies exactly how our solutions will benefit them. I’ve found this trait to be extremely effective to date.

(Motivation) I’m applying for this position because, after several years of developing my professional ability, I’m ready to bring that to an industry I care deeply about. I grew up on the NBA and have always appreciated a well-crafted activation like the Be Like Mike campaigns (both iterations). Taking a lead in shaping deals that have the same impact would be a dream come true.

(Close) Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to exploring my fit for this role further with you soon.

(Sign off) Best wishes,

Your Name

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Now it’s time to create your own cover letter. Once you’re done, hit our jobs feed for thousands of active vacancies in the sports industry. We have filters for all the major competitions including the NFL, NBA, Premier League, and F1, so finding your dream sports job has never been easier.

And if you need help creating a resume for sports, we have you covered too.

Good luck out there.