People working in the broadcasting field help provide coverage of sporting events using a variety of different media outlets, such as radio, television, and internet. That being said, the actual job of a sportscaster can vary quite a bit from one career group to the next. Some sportscasters will specialize in a particular sport, doing commentary, others will specialize in research, production, and presentation of many different sporting events and competitions.
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One of the best-known and most recognized occupations within the sportscasting career field is that of the game announcer or commentator. Typically, commentators work in pairs, consisting of the play-by-play announcer and the colour commentator. Play-by-play announcers describe the play and explain what is happening to the viewers, while the game or event is in action. The colour commentator takes over during the times when the game is not in action, to share personal knowledge and game experiences. Frequently this is transitioned by the play-by-play announcer asking the commentator a question, in a sort of tag team effort to keep the viewers engaged and entertained for the entire sporting event. This is probably the definitive sportscasting career that many people think of, and it's one of the most lucrative jobs in the field. However, this position only makes up a small percentage of people working in sportscasting.
Being a sports fanatic is not going to be enough, in most cases, to get yourself a position in this competitive field. The ability to present information in an exciting, interesting, and memorable way is a talent that can be polished, but can't really be manufactured. People who have found success in theatre and public speaking seem to be better suited to this occupation. People who are comfortable in front of the camera, with an outgoing personality and a strong knowledge base for sporting events and commentary will find this field suitable, while the more reticent game fan might be more comfortable doing research and writing, working in the production end of broadcasting. This tends to be a fast-paced career with a high-energy atmosphere. Nights and weekends are practically a given in the sportscasting field, and some broadcasters that specialize in a particular sport that is played during a specific time of year might find this to be a seasonal occupation as well.
There are no hard-and-fast educational requirements in the industry, but a journalism degree, specializing in broadcasting, would be a good starting point for the prospective sportscaster. Having a strong knowledge of sports history and a broad base of game knowledge in general are also very important, but these things alone will not make up for a lack of broadcasting knowledge. Developing the experience, knowledge, and expertise to move up the ladder to bigger and better assignments make up a great deal of a typical sportscasting career arc.
It would probably not surprise you to learn that over 80% of sportscasters are male, but it's interesting to note that female sportscasters are narrowing that gap every year. In some events, female broadcasters are well represented; ice skating and gymnastics, which receive more coverage than in years past, are two examples of this. Other events, such as football, rugby, basketball and hockey, have stayed more true to the stereotypical male broadcaster, though newer productions such as those broadcasting on the internet or via podcast, do not hold as tightly to this business model. The very largest sporting events, such as the Olympic games, can literally keep thousands of sportscasters employed for the duration of the competitions, if you consider each sporting event and ceremony will be broadcast in dozens of countries, translated, and then disseminated to local broadcasters, internet and podcasts, and other mediums.
Television networks are one of the largest employers for full-time sportscasters. Major television networks, as well as sport-specific channels and newer "niche" television channels that specialize in only one sport, keep a number of sportscasters and commentators on staff, typically on contract. Radio work is still common though not as prevalent as it was in the past. Webcasting and other internet-based sportscasting opportunities are becoming more widespread, however currently these positions tend to be not as lucrative as other mediums.
The typical sportscaster's "office" might be the stadium press box, a television studio, right on the sidelines or even in the locker room, interviewing players and coaches after a game.
A well-known play-by-play commentator with a lot of experience is practically a brand name unto themselves, and they are paid accordingly. Top commentators earn millions, and they are at the very top of the food chain in the sportscasting field. Colour commentators tend to be former athletes in the sport they are broadcasting, with a lot of specialized knowledge and personal experiences to share. This is also a highly valuable commodity in game broadcasting, and well-known colour commentators are highly paid as well, with annual salaries approaching those of play-by-play commentators. Television game analysts on major networks earn between $60,000 and $250,000 (35,000£ - 150,000£) while sportscasters working for smaller networks, schools, and independent broadcasters typically earn less than that.