The internal labor market of professional football

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Virginia Tech


Scholars in many fields have long studied the patterns of employment and promotions in industries and occupations. However, the area of sport has been largely omitted from studies of this type.

This study explored the possibility of an internal labor market for head coaches of the National Football League (NFL). Subjects were those people who were the head coaches of NFL teams for the years 1970 to 1975 and 1980 to 1985. Following theoretical guidelines, the subjects were tested for evidence of industrial, occupational, and/or pure internal labor markets. Statistical treatment of the data utilized chi square tests.

The results of this study provided evidence of industrial and occupational internal labor markets, but there was no support for a pure internal labor market. The tests showed an intertwining of the industrial and occupational internal labor markets over the course of the subjects' careers. There also were significant findings in the areas of mentor and position played by the subjects. This study can serve as a foundation for further studies.