Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly, President & COO

Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee


Without question, Michael Kelly has one of the more unique jobs on this website. It’s high profile. It’s associated with the biggest day in sports. And it’s going to end in early 2005. See, that’s the nature of working on a host committee.

You do your job. You do it well. Then, just when you’re on top of the world, you move on to the next event.

Kelly is one of the talented individuals who will make sure Super Bowl XXXIX is a world class affair. And right after the Vince Lombardi trophy is awarded to the winning NFL franchise February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Fla., he’ll polish up his impressive resume and look for the next hosting or organizing challenge.

For Kelly, his success can be attributed to both a strong educational foundation and an influential job history.

“Every step in my background has played a role in me gaining my current position,” Kelly says. “My education played a large role (politics at Wake Forest, Sports Administration at St. Thomas University) in preparing me, and the various jobs I've held have each played a key role in me learning more about the business.”

And what exactly does he do?

“My day to day function is primarily a matter of communication,” he says. “Whether it is a phone call, an email, a meeting, a speech or preparation time for a meeting, my days are consumed with absorbing as much information as possible—and then determining who needs to know the information at what time so that the entire project comes together effectively. The interesting part is that you never know who you will be communicating with on a given day! It is a real blessing to get to work with so many wonderful people throughout the world.”

If you ask Kelly what his favorite part of the job is, you’ll get an answer that is shared by many in a top sports position: It isn’t monotonous. It doesn’t involve sitting at a desk and doing the same exact thing for 10 straight hours. In a word, it offers variety.

“What I love most about my position now is the overall management aspect and the ability for me to be involved in all aspects of the operation as opposed to focusing in on just one department,” he says.

Of course, the job presents a considerable hurdle. It ends.

“The toughest thing about these host committee/organizing committee opportunities is that they are relatively short-term with no guarantee of future employment since the organization ceases to exist upon completion,” Kelly says. “That is the risk one takes to work with the greatest events on the planet. Everyone is not willing to take this risk but, to date, it has made sense for me in my situation.”

So what advice does Michael Kelly give to newcomers looking to join his line of work?

”My advice for aspiring sports administrators is to network as much as possible and to be willing to outwork everyone in their peer group,” he says. “They also need to be willing to take risks. Many thought I was crazy to move to another state for an 11-month job with the 1999 Final Four Organizing Committee, but it turned out to be a key turning point in my career.”

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