journalism is a great career path with interesting niches that align with almost any particular interest such as sportswriting. Sportswriting is journalism that covers topics within the sports industry. If you’re a good writer with a passion for sports and engaging with fans, this may be the career for you.
In this article, we discuss what a sportswriter is, and list eight in-depth steps on how to become one.
What is a sportswriter?
A sportswriter is a journalist who delivers informative, engaging and entertaining content related to the sports industry. Writing the best content often involves traveling to related games, networking with sources within the industry and researching current events.
Some focus primarily on a single sport, such as football or basketball, while others report on all sports within their region. Unlike other forms of journalism, sportswriting requires a great deal of detail within their written content. For example, they offer potential reasons why a team won or lost a game with play-by-play details.
After spending time watching a game or connecting with contacts, sportswriters return to their workspace and organize their collected information into an article. They write for professional blogs, newspapers, magazines, television and radio.
Where do sportswriters work?
As a niche in journalism, work environments for sportswriters are often flexible. Some work remotely, attending games at their leisure, taking notes and writing from home or their local coffee shop. Others work in office environments with desktop computers following in-house style guides.
On occasion, sportswriters travel to meet with and interview coaches and players on upcoming matches or other related news. The role requires a great deal of outside work and presents an interesting alternative to the typical full-time job.
How to become a sportswriter
Follow the next several steps thoroughly to become a sportswriter:
- Learn about sports.
- Play a sport in high school.
- Take composition courses in high school.
- Read sports-related news content.
- Accept any writing position.
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.
- Tell a story with your writing.
- Complete an internship.
1. Learn about sports
One of the first steps involved in becoming a writer is finding your niche. If you’re interested in being a sportswriter, having knowledge or a general interest in sports becomes beneficial. Attend sporting events or watch them live on television. Find a particular sport you enjoy most and follow it as closely as possible. Gain insight into how the game is played and try it with friends.
2. Play a sport in high school
Once students reach high school, they have the opportunity to play competitive sports for their school in an environment that leads to college credit. Choose a sport you’re interested in, such as football, basketball or other common high school sport. Train hard during your time on the team and learn all that you can from your coach and your teammates. If you know at this stage that you want to write for sports, take note of important details of each match and try to write a short article about it after. This essential practice provides a great foundational step toward your goal of becoming a sportswriter.
3. Take composition courses in high school
Even if you’re a naturally talented writer, take composition courses or other related electives during high school. Within these courses, you learn how to structure a story as well as the general basics of writing professionally. Focus on your grammar and punctuation use and gain confidence in allowing others to review or critique your writing. Accept any received criticism and use it to further enhance your writing abilities.
4. Read sports-related news content
Honing your skills as a sportswriter requires you to read sportswriting content. Follow a blog online or find a television show or podcast that features sports news. Consider how they speak about games and how they explain certain aspects. For example, a professional sportswriter often keeps a neutral tone within their writing even if their preferred team lost. Some sports news sources report on current events in a humorous manner and prefer that their writers take a more entertaining approach to their writing.
5. Accept any writing position
Take any writing position that comes by at this stage. Whether it’s paid or unpaid, experience at this level is essential in obtaining a sportswriter role later on. Write for local newspapers or start your own blog covering local teams. If your high school has a newspaper, write for the sports column to get a better understanding of sportswriting. During this period, keep copies of your work and begin building a portfolio for yourself.
6. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism
After high school, the next best step is to earn a four-year degree in journalism. Learn more information about the field of journalism and further enhance your skills. Within these courses, you learn how to write better content at a faster pace which is an in-demand quality for writers. As your skills develop, take any opportunities you can such as writing for a school blog or newspaper. Attend every game you can and report on who won and who lost and speculate why it happened.
7. Tell a story with your writing
During your time in college, you may learn the importance of story-telling in journalism. Even informative news articles require the traits of a story. Every article needs a clear beginning, middle and end. Information flows through written pieces in a logical manner that keeps readers both engaged and entertained.
For example, a good piece includes an intro or teaser that grabs the reader’s attention. Followed by this is a detailed body section that slowly pulls the reader in, offering in-depth details of the game and even mentioning specific plays and player names. Finish by addressing who won and speculate why it happened. Finally, within your closing, you might introduce the dates and times for the next several games or even add a call-to-action for ticket purchases.
8. Complete an internship
Upon sharpening your writing skills and earning a four-year degree, the next step often includes applying to internships. Writing sports news during high school and college better prepares you for these roles and writing professionally.
Create a resume and portfolio including some of your best pieces and present it to the hiring manager for the internship. Having a portfolio of great pieces at this stage is a great way to guarantee your position within the program. While you’re there, learn what you can from industry professionals and take every opportunity to network with staff members. Even if they decide not to keep you, upon competition of the internship you have advanced knowledge of the industry and great additions to your network.