If you are intrigued with the intricate details of a sports game or event, fascinated by the individual stories of amateur and professional athletes or passionate about how sports relate to news, business, politics, ethics or society as whole, then becoming a sports writer or reporter may be your calling.
If you are wondering how to become a sports journalist, the answer is three things: continuously learn, continuously gain experience and tap into your passion so you never give up. Sports journalists take on various roles from writers and broadcasters to editors, directors and sports information specialists. Throughout your career you may fill several of these positions or stick with one or two; you may work solely in one medium or in several including radio, television and print and online publications.
1. Start Gaining Experience
How to Become a Sports Journalist starts with actively seeking out opportunities. Whether you are still in high school or in the midst of a degree, start gaining experience so you can learn valuable sports journalism skills, but also start finding out what kind of sports journalist you would like to be. Here are some ideas:
- E-mail established sports journalists (newspaper, magazine, radio, television or online) in your area and ask for advice or if you can job-shadow them; if you form a relationship, ask if you can try some assignments.
- Start your own blog (there are several free online programs to do so). Fill your blog pages with the highlights, results or some commentary from sports events you attend, sports news stories or with interviews you’ve conducted with local athletes. You may also contact established sports blogs, such as the Bleacher Report, to find out how you can contribute.
- Continuously read sports articles and/or listen to sports broadcasts. Learn from these established sports writers and reporters and practice your growing journalism skills.
- Start writing for your school’s (high school, college or university) newspaper, blog or other publication or start a show on the school’s radio or television station (if applicable). In some cases, even if you do not attend a particular college or university, they may also allow community members to volunteer for their news sources. Cover the sports as much as possible, but be open to other topics as well.
- Watch sports games at home and try doing some play-by-play commentary.
2. Get a sports journalism degree
How to Become a Sports Journalism continues with essential education. Check out our list of journalism schools to find a program that fits your career goals, current lifestyle (i.e. you may want to pursue an online program for convenience) and that follows your previous educational accomplishments. For example, if you are almost done high school, pursuing a Bachelors degree with a sports journalism major, minor or concentration would be an ideal fit. If you are in the midst of completing an undergraduate degree, look for programs where you can transfer earned credits towards a sports journalism degree or some schools also offer one-year, certificate or Masters programs in sports journalism.
3. Complete a Degree that Includes Sports Journalism Internships
On the job training is an essential component for how to become a sports journalist. Most schools that offer sports journalism degrees and programs include one or more sports journalism internships. These are essential. They will help you put into practice the theory and skills you have been learning in the lecture hall. You will also have the opportunity to work side-by-side with an established sports writer, reporter, broadcaster or another type of journalist and learn from his or her vast array of experiences while directly participating. Colleges or universities that offer more than one sports journalism internship often allow you to work in more than one medium, allowing you to figure out if you prefer newspaper, radio, magazine, television, online sources or all of the above. Finally, if you work hard, ask questions and impress your mentors during the internship, the chances of you being hired on are greater after graduation.
4. Continuously Learn & Adapt
Remember always be willing to ask questions, learn and receive feedback from mentors, whether they be professors, experienced sports journalists or your future employers. That being said, do not hesitate to gradually develop your own unique style and journalistic voice as you continue to gain experience.