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How to break into sports journalism


How to break into sports journalism


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Whether it’s match commentating, interviewing players and coaches, or keeping track of sport statistics, sports journalism, like everything else, has become a science.

Sports journalism is fast-paced and often demanding, as you interview managers and players, report on games, develop media strategies, research figures and attend press conferences. You need to be well-versed in various forms of social media, video production, podcasts and more. It’s a dynamic world, and the fast rate at which the various mediums are developing ensures that there is always a need for journalists skilled in the latest media technology.

Sport is important for many reasons. It keeps us fit and helps us channel our energy in positive ways. It helps us develop life skills and gives us a sense of belonging. Governments encourage sport as it unites communities and promotes interaction between nations.

A journalist is someone who writes, collects, photographs, processes, edits, comments, and passes it on to the public via various media. However, the dynamic nature of the job is what keeps journalists fired up and enthusiastic.

If you love playing sport or have a need to watch every match you possibly can, keeping track of the sports stars and supporting your favorite team or country, then perhaps a career in sports journalism may interest you.

If you enjoy participating in sport but haven’t quite cracked the team, then immersing yourself in the life of sports journalism is possibly the next best thing. And you won’t have to retire when you reach the age of 30-something. Alternatively, you may be a successful sportsperson who has reached that stage and is ready to follow your passion into the sports journalism arena.


To begin with, you can study a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism online or as a full-time student at a university. A degree in journalism gives you a good background in writing and critical thinking. You will learn about reporting, interviewing and journalism ethics, and delve into more specialized areas such as sports and entertainment journalism.

Universities and media companies offer internship programs that help you gain experience. Every bit of experience you can get while studying can be added to your portfolio, so by the time you start looking for a job, you will be able to demonstrate some practical skills and talk passionately about what it is that excites you about the profession.

Once you’re qualified, it’s a good idea to work for a year or two to learn all you can about the job so that you can decide what in the world of sport and journalism interests you and where your passions lie. Now, it’s time to take your career to the next level.

You can open up a world of adventure and excitement with an online sports journalism master’s from St. Bonaventure University, which teaches you all that you need to know to find your ideal job in the multifaceted world of sport.

Different aspects of sports journalism

Journalists work in teams with sound engineers and photography experts covering live events, recording footage for articles, and creating visuals. One of the perks of the job is meeting and interviewing sports celebrities, networking with teams and individual players, athletes, team managers, sponsors and other stakeholders.

Sports photography is an art. Capturing an action shot at the precise moment takes skill and patience. Journalists should build on their photography skills, as there will be times when an expert photographer is not available.

Sports reporters write broadcast scripts, articles for magazines or posts on social media. They network with team managers, players, sponsors, and other stakeholders, and are always on the lookout for newsworthy items.

Commentators cover live events, delivering commentary over radio, TV, and videos. A strong voice and a clear manner of speaking are important. You can practice by recording your own commentary on matches and then playing it back. If necessary, speech lessons can help you project your voice, and give helpful tips.

Broadcasters and announcers deliver news and read from scripts produced by journalists.

Talk show hosts spend much of their time preparing for the show, planning, checking the sound, and creating rundowns before the actual show takes place. The host needs to have ‘the gift of the gab’ to be able to converse with various personalities with ease. Talk shows are usually hosted on radio, TV, and video, but can also be turned into podcasts.

Producers work behind the scenes to create content for productions, and make sure that everything runs smoothly. This applies to film, audio, and podcast productions. They arrange press conferences and meetings with journalists, brainstorm new topics and strategize, and set deadlines and make sure that they are met.

Production and editing can overlap, and smaller organizations often combine the two roles. Editors ensure that quality information is produced, and collaborate with designers, broadcasters and reporters to create presentations that are of professional quality, whether they are audio, video or other digital productions.

A sound knowledge of the mediums available, how to use them, and how they fit into the job is a good place to start. We discuss some of the mediums and strategies here, with interesting tips on how to put them into practice.

Getting your foot in the door

It helps to know which area of sports journalism you are particularly interested in. There may have been a moment of truth years ago, when you made the decision based on an event in your life, or perhaps something really appealed to you while were studying. Hopefully, you have been doing some thorough research along the way and have a good idea of what it is you want to do.

Many media corporations offer internship opportunities, offering experience in various facets of journalism, while you study.

Attend sporting events and conduct your own interviews with some willing local athletes. Get to know the rules of all the games you intend to cover, and more. Analyze the methods that teams use, their winning strategies, and even their failures.

Learn about sports injuries so that you can deliver some knowledgeable commentary.

Playing sports yourself obviously helps, but is not essential. Engage with sports fans in the audience, sharing your analysis, while at the same time learning their views and attitudes toward the sport.

Write blogs, read, and watch as much as you can. Display your versatility in writing by covering different sports.

Analyze the methods that other journalists use when broadcasting, interviewing and writing articles. Decide whose styles you prefer and follow them closely. Collect statistics.

Always edit and review your own work, making sure that it is accurate and well-produced.

Social media

Social media is where it all happens nowadays, and it’s easy to build up the skills while you are still studying. Sports social media is more than just creativity. It involves planning and processes, goals and tracking, and lots more.

Don’t shun the process. Creative types often prefer to follow their artistic inspirations. However, without process, artistic spontaneity can see you floundering from one idea to another and not achieving a particular goal. Working with a process can direct your creativity, giving you more time to focus on the creation and giving managers something to measure your success by on the project. If you don’t have a structured way of doing things, you’ll spend a lot of time re-creating, and won’t get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. You should see the process as the backbone of your project. Impress your prospective employers with your acceptance of, and comfort with, process.

Be curious. Learn new techniques and ideas, check out new platforms, and study various organizations and teams. See how people use the different tools in social media, read widely, follow blogs, and learn from others. You can even venture outside the sports arena and learn from different organizations you admire. Watch what they do and how they do it, and pick up some ideas that you can use or adapt to fit in with what you need to achieve.

Follow someone who you admire. Question their posts and how and why they are doing things the way that they do. If it is someone who is active across various social platforms, follow them and work out how their methods change across the platforms. Why are they different, and what are their strategies?

It is important to network. However, trying to network with people at higher levels is difficult and does not always deliver results. Network and build relationships with people at your own level. Form a community with your peers, share ideas, experiment together and share results. Playing sports games together is also a great way to build relationships. These are the people who are going to be there for you in the future, giving advice, and possibly even helping you find work.

Be confident. Be prepared to be the expert in your field and demonstrate your knowledge with confidence. For example, an older colleague may have more experience in certain areas but will not be as articulate with social media as the younger members of the team. This is an area where you can showcase your skills and make an impression.

Be results-driven. By tracking results, capturing and storing data on games and teams, and analyzing it all to produce information that can be reported on, you are certain to make an impression on a future employer. Have some of your analysis ready when going for interviews.

Have a plan. Before putting forward a proposal, make sure that you have covered every base. Investigate the theory, the process, and the outcomes. Calculate the benefits to the company and the costs. Have a good presentation ready. You need to have good reasons and a convincing argument.

Be coachable. Don’t be a know-it-all. Showing your passion for the job is great, but always be open to new ideas and strategies.

Preparing for interviews

It is important to prepare for interviews. When going for an interview, do some research about the organization and the person who is going to interview you. You need to be able to communicate with people at all levels, from top management and stakeholders on down. You also need to be able to articulate why and how you do things. Vague ideas will not work for you. The most important preparation for any job interview is the creation of a personal portfolio.

Besides your CV and a short personal profile and contact details, you need to add any work that you have done so far. If you don’t have any examples, create some. Watch a game and give commentary on video and in writing. Add links to your social media site and website and conduct some interviews if possible. Consult your data and prepare some impressive graphs of team performance, sponsorship figures and athletes’ salary details.

AI and sports

Part of the sports journalist’s skillset is collecting data. It’s also beneficial to have knowledge of AI – the manipulation of data to produce statistics that help predict outcomes based on past performance or data around teams and their players that fans love to follow. This makes money for advertising and marketing companies and helps sports journalists stay on top of their game.


Sports journalists often work on multiple assignments at once, spending long hours at the side of the track or field, and more hours traveling long distances. However, it’s the adrenalin and excitement that keep sportsmen and women playing, and the journalists reporting. It’s about personal achievement and the idea of doing something that you consider worthwhile.

Calvin M. Barker

Typical tv scholar. Problem solver. Writer. Extreme bacon fan. Twitter maven. Music evangelist. Spent a year consulting about salsa in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Spoke at an international conference about lecturing about junk food in New York, NY. Earned praise for promoting robotic shrimp in Phoenix, AZ. Spent 2002-2007 working on catfish in Naples, FL. Spent several months developing yogurt in Orlando, FL. Spent high school summers managing dandruff in Africa.