In most professional sports, the general manager is the team executive responsible for acquiring the rights to player personnel, negotiating their contracts, and reassigning or dismissing players no longer desired on the team. The general manager may also have responsibility for hiring the head coach of the team.
For many years in U.S. professional sports, coaches often served as general managers for their teams as well, deciding which players would be kept on the team and which ones dismissed, and even negotiating the terms of their contracts in cooperation with the ownership of the team. In fact, many sports teams in the early years of U.S. professional sports were coached by the owner of the team, so in some cases the same individual served as owner, general manager and head coach.
As the amount of money involved in professional sports increased, many prominent players began to hire agents to negotiate contracts on their behalf. The intensified contract negotiations that resulted, as well to ensure all player contracts are in accordance with these caps, as well as consistent with the desires of the ownership and its ability to pay.
General managers are usually responsible for the selection of players in player drafts and work with the coaching staff and scouts to build a strong team. In sports with developmental or minor leagues, the general manager is usually the team executive with the overall responsibility for “sending down” and “calling up” players to and from these leagues, although the head coach may also have significant input into these decisions.
Some of the most successful sports general managers have been former players and coaches, while others have backgrounds in ownership and business management.
The term is not commonly used in Europe, especially in soccer, where the position of manager or coach is used instead to refer to the managing/coaching position. The position ofdirector of football might be the most similar position on many European football clubs.