How to Become a Sports Journalist

 

  • Many sports fans dream of being a sports journalist — perhaps, covering the Lakers for the Los Angeles Times or saying “He could go all the way” on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
  • But it’s not as easy as it seems. And getting there is even more difficult.
  • Sports journalism requires both a passion for sports and a talent in communicating. Many people have one of those things, but few have both. And far fewer have the committment it takes to become a successful sports journalist.
  • Before you can become the next Chris Berman or Mitch Albom, you have to pay your dues. Most sports journalist start at tiny newspapers or small-market stations. Their first assignment isn’t covering the Philadelphia Phillies or Ohio State Buckeyes, but rather Little League baseball or high school football. And their starting salary may be only $20,000 to $30,000 annually.
  • Be careful what you wish for. If you do make it to the big time, your life becomes sports. When the pro baseball team you cover goes on a two-week road trip, that means you’re also away from home for two weeks.
  • When the season is going on, off days are rare. If the college or pro team you cover plays on Thanksgiving, New Year’s or July 4th, that means you’ll be working instead of enjoying the holiday like everyone else. Getting access to coaches and athletes becomes increasingly difficult. And everyone’s your critic. Sure, you’ll make more money, but you won’t have time to spend it.
  • Sports journalism may seem like a dream, but it’s also a job. And one that’s more demanding than many office jobs.
  • Still, surely Peter Gibbons from “Office Space” would agree that reporting on sports beats filling out a TPS report any day. And like that cult film, many people will watch or read your coverage and talk about it at the water cooler.

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