Being a sports general manager (GM) is much like being a manager of many other organizations. The GM is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Sports general managers typically have involved jobs, regardless of whether they work for large professional organizations or smaller semipro teams. Salaries can range from around $50,000 a year for smaller teams to millions of dollars per year for high-profile professional teams.
General Managers are in charge of making sure the product that a team puts on the court or the field is one that guests and fans will want to pay to see. In many cases, the most straightforward way to do this is to assemble a winning team with good players. If a team wins, it is much easier to attract fans willing to buy tickets. If the GM's attempt to assemble a predominantly winning team fails he may instead focus resources on providing a fun fan experience. The GM can work with team promoters to arrange for entertaining acts to perform during breaks in the action. He also can work with the hospitality staff to provide refreshments that fans will want to buy. Players will be called upon to take part in some marketing outreach to help in this regard.
The general manager oversees the budgets for many of the groups in the sports organization. One of the GM's most important budgetary roles is to sign and release athletes from contracts. At the highest professional level, GMs deal on a daily basis with multimillion dollar contracts. The GM must understand the legalities of the contracts.
General managers are responsible for drafting players to play for the organization for which he works. The highest-level professional leagues hold a yearly draft during which GMs work with team presidents, team owners, coaches, scouts and other personnel to determine which players would be best for the team to draft. After the draft, the GM is one of the key figures in the negotiating process when a contract is being hammered out.
General managers are expected to make trades from time to time. In the case when a team is competitive, GMs may trade young players or prospects for a proven performer who can help the team win a championship now. On the other hand, GMs whose teams are in rebuilding periods may look to trade one of their more experienced and higher-paid players to another team for prospects who are looked at to help the rebuilding effort over the next few years. General managers also are responsible for meeting with free agents, offering contracts and negotiating the terms of those contracts. They need to get an OK to incur these kinds of expenses.
Report to Team President
The general manager must make many day-to-day decisions without the input of the team president or the team owner; however, he is responsible for reporting these decisions from time to time to his superiors. A GM rarely--if ever--makes big budgetary decisions without receiving feedback from his superiors in the organization. He must explain decisions he recommends and must be open to receiving feedback.