From Sports to Tech PR: Finding New Career Passions

Football players in press conference

As a former sports PR guy, a career I immensely loved and was extremely passionate about, but also grew out of for many reasons (to understand a majority of those reasons, check out my friend Jeff Esposito’s excellent PRBC post about working in sports PR from Friday here), I have both fond memories of that profession, and a sense of understanding now that moving on from it nine months ago was the right thing for me to do.

Jeff gave an excellent rundown of what it is like to work in PR in the sports world. Yes, it can be incredibly exciting, and yes, you do get to work around some amazing athletes. And there are many other benefits and fantastic qualities to working in that profession. But it has its downsides—many of them—and after spending more than five years in the profession, where I was incredibly fortunate to rise all the way to being the youngest NCAA Division I football media relations director in the country at just 23 (while at Illinois State), I made the rather difficult decision last February that it was time for me to move on, find a better quality of life—certainly one that didn’t require me to work seven days a week, nine months out of the year—and explore new career adventures.

And that’s really what this post is about: moving on from what you thought was your career passion. The part of a profession you thought you would work in until you retired; the profession you got two degrees in and invested a big chunk of your life. How do you move on from that? It isn’t easy. Trust me.

The doubts of whether I made the right decision still persist. They probably always will. You see, for me, working in sports—like so many others who have joined that business (and the fact that literally millions of people want to work in sports, which drives down industry-wide salaries and drives up the hours that people in the business typically work is an issue for another post)—isn’t some job you drag yourself to every day. It is YOU. It’s everything that you are. And stopping that constant process of always being ON—always being ready to work or to pitch in wherever needed (and there is ALWAYS something more that needs to be done when working for a sports team)—can be very difficult. But the passion, the excitement and the sheer enthusiasm that almost everyone I have ever encountered that works in sports has for their job is intoxicating. It’s wonderful, but it can also be suffocating.

Thus, the need to move on. The need to start anew. Get a fresh perspective on what I want out of my career and my adult life. And that can be incredibly fascinating and exciting, as well. But it can also be quite scary and frustrating, as the thoughts of my previous professional life find a way to creep back in to my mind from time-to-time. I think I do a pretty good job of taming those thoughts, as I absolutely love what I do now at RLM PR in Manhattan, where I work with a slew of tremendously innovative and exciting companies—which really was a driving force for me to leave sports, as I realized I have a pretty big entrepreneurial spirit, and I wanted to be around more people and companies like that.

But for those who are currently struggling with thoughts of leaving their career passion, for whatever reason—maybe it doesn’t pay well anymore, maybe it’s just taking up too much of your life and you want some quality and balance back, or maybe you have just outgrown what you thought you loved, but you have no idea how to get out of that profession—don’t fret. You’re not alone. Plenty of us have been through that dilemma before, and I’m here to tell you: We understand your concerns. We really do.

The thing is…you have to find what ultimately makes you happy. And I’m still one of those people who believes in at least attempting to balance my personal and professional lives. And that’s why I made the decision to move on. Because I wanted that balance back in my life. And I have it now. And I haven’t looked back since. Because for me, no matter how exciting working in sports was, it was equally draining—mentally, physically and on those whom I loved and cherished—and that just wasn’t the life I wanted to live for the next 40 years.

So, to those who have been through a similar situation before, please, share your thoughts below, and offer some wise advice to our wonderful PRBC readers facing similar questions about their career passions. And if anyone needs some guidance about changing careers, I’m always here to help at ktrivitt [at] gmail.com.

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  • jeffespo

    Keith, great post. Three years later for me and the thoughts creep back in every now and then. Don't think they'll ever go away. You make a great point on the demand on you.

    To some it might not make sense, but then again the grass is always greener on the other side.

  • keithtrivitt

    How right you are, Jeff, about the grass always being greener on the other side. Most people who haven't worked in sports will never understand that it's not just a job that you arrive at each morning and leave at the end of the night, never thinking about until the next day. It is you. It's every part of you, and that can be incredibly exciting and intoxicating, as both you and I noted in our posts, it can also drain the hell out of you – emotionally and physically – and just destroy relationships. It's a tough life. I loved it when I was doing it, but I see now that it probably wasn't the most beneficial to my life in terms of the quality of life that I was living and that I wanted.

    It's always going to be a part of me, and I”m sure there will always be a small piece of me that yearns to get back into the sports biz, but for now, I'm moving on and looking toward a brighter future, as I know you are, my friend.

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  • Hi Keith,

    I just stumbled upon this post, great job! I too left the sports PR world after working in the Boston Celtics PR Department for nearly 5 years. I've now been away for nearly 4 years and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss it in some way.

    But, I also know that I made the right decision when I chose to pursue a different industry. You put it great when you said there's a lot of pros working in sports, but just as many, if not more, cons.

    I keep involved in the sports PR world with my blog, but have learned so much in my new industry and have many more opportunties for long-term career growth.

    Although I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting that the Celtics won the title 2 years after I left 🙂

    @BGleas