How to Become a Sports Writer

Sports Writer Careers – Sportswriter Salary

If you are passionate about sports, love writing and language, and want to share your own encyclopedic knowledge of all things related to the sports game, a career as a sports writer is a natural fit for you. Sports writers are the cool guys in any given room of journalists, writers who rub elbows with celebrities and major sports figures, guys whose columns are read by millions of sports fans a day.

In fact, that ability to hobnob with the rich and famous is one of the big fringe benefits of writing about sports. Sports journalists often get invitations to exclusive events, press passes to sporting events, and let’s not overlook that they get paid to attend games. Professional and personal relationships with athletes will develop over time, especially if you work a specific team’s beat for your employer.

It isn’t all fun and games. A career as a sports writer requires dedication from your high school days, a four year degree (at least), and experience working the worst jobs at the worst newspapers before you can graduate to a fancy position at a flagship paper. Journalists ask questions, they analyze the news, they are freethinkers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty for a story. A good sports writer can communicate clearly, be familiar with all sorts of journalism history and sports materials, and have an actual passion for a sport, preferably multiple sports.

Sure, you can choose to focus on that one sport that you really love (baseball fanatics are known to have tunnel vision for “America’s game”), but a sports writer is more valuable if he knows a lot about a variety of sports.

How to Become a Sports Writer, Step by Step

1. Become a Sports Expert

How to Become a Sports WriterA good sports writer is a journalist at heart who has something valuable to say about sports. You can be the world’s biggest hockey fan, but before you start down your career path towards being the next great hockey writer, you should select a few sports and become experts in them — their rules, their history, and the writing that exists about them.

If you’re an NBA fan at heart, branch out and read about the history of American soccer. Study soccer statistics. Be the best soccer referee in the neighborhood with your massive understanding of the rules.

Meanwhile, stay informed about your favorite sport. Learn about how trades work and stay on top of the latest NBA trade rumors.

One of the best things you can do as a youngster to prepare yourself for a career as a sports writer is to participate in fantasy sports leagues. They’re fun, sure, but they also make you familiar with how statistics and trades work.

2. Cover Local Sports

Your junior high or high school newspaper wants to cover the sports program at your school. Apply for work with your school paper, emphasizing the importance of sports reporting. Go into this position whole hog — who cares that the Jefferson High School Eagles are 0-12 this year — cover them like they’re the Yankees.

You can also get experience (and earn some pocket money) by writing for a local or community paper’s sports section. They are usually looking for interested writers to cover local sports, and though you may think writing about the municipal softball league is boring, you need all the experience you can get. Who knows — if your writing is good enough, maybe you’ll develop a local cult following.

3. Get a Journalism Degree

If you want to be a sports journalist, you’ll have to learn how to be a journalist first.

Your future employer will only hire a sports writer that has a high school education and has shown some spark toward earning a higher degree. That’s right — if your writing is good enough, it is possible to get hired as a sports writer without that journalism degree, but your employer will want to see that you’re at least attempting to get an education at a journalism school.  That’s why going ahead and getting a journalism degree from a university based journalism school is the only way to go.

These schools teach you the basics of journalism, from copy editing to the business of printing a newspaper, and while you’re getting your necessary degree, you can get some experience writing for the college paper or working at the university’s television station. Journalism degree seekers learn how to be a reporter, how to write features, editing skills, gain experience in interviewing, and can even dabble in photography if they want. All media outlets that hire sports writers will want you to have an education in these things at  least before they’ll hire you to write for them.

Sports Journalism Salary Information – How Much Money Do Sports Writers <ake?

Because there are so many venues for sports journalists to work in, the average salary is really dependent on what newspaper or media outlet you work for. Sports journalists writing for the New York Times, for instance, earn anywhere from $40,000 to well over $100,000 dollars a year with full benefits. A sports writer in a small market paper may start out making about $30,0000 with the possibility of earning more with experience.

Another problem with the sports writing career — newspapers are having a rough go of it since the emergence of the Internet as a news medium. Old school newspaper journalism is being replaced by blogging, web exclusive reporting, and even Twitter feeds. Finding work where you can get it defines the lives of many sports writers, though if you impress an editor or other boss, or if you get a job with ESPN or one of the other major sports networks, your career path may be a bit more secure.

A career as a journalist is not going to make you rich. Only a handful of sports writers get the kind of celebrity that lands them seats at VIP tables and spots on national television. But a career in sports journalism could easily lead to a book contract or even near-celeb fame. Many sports writers end up performing small parts in sports movies, or move easily into color commentary for sports broadcasts. The fact is — you have a passion for sports, and another for writing, and writing about sports is the best way to satisfy both of your desires.

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