Sports writers deliver engaging and informative news to readers of blogs, websites, newspapers, or magazines. They may work directly for a publishing company or freelance and syndicate their stories to a variety of news outlets. Some writers specialize in coverage of one sport, such as basketball or football, while others cover all the news on athletic competition in their region. Regardless of the type of sport covered, writers must use their creativity to excite and engage readers while writing content that is always factual, current and accurate.
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Writers do whatever is necessary to write exciting content for fans of the sport they cover. This may mean traveling to games, researching current events in the sport, making contacts to obtain insider information or tracking down sources. Unlike the brief information given during television news, written media must be detailed, in-depth and offer reasons for why a team won or lost. Because of this distinction, writers must dig very deep for information not found elsewhere and analyze subjective aspects of the game in order to deliver successful content.
After long hours spent collecting news and information about a competition, writers return to their home or office and combine that content to create an article. Typically, modern writers use word processors along with a desktop computer or laptop to type out their articles. Some publications require writers to adhere to a specific format while others allow more creative freedom. Freelance writers are not held to these requirements, but must still ensure that the content is both entertaining and correct.
The sports writing career is very competitive. Writers often compete with others in their region to publish information first, thereby gaining the loyalty of a fan base hungry for information. In addition, many newspapers are downsizing and cutting staff, thereby creating more competition in this career field. However, with an ever-expanding media market, which now includes both commercial and personal blogs, writers have more opportunities than ever to secure a position in the industry.
Some writers cross over into other forms of media, such as television, radio and podcasts. They may write content for these shows or, if they show an aptitude, become talk show personalities themselves.
The typical writer must obtain the minimum of a bachelor's degree, usually in journalism. They often gain experience writing for their college newspaper or participating in internships. Many writers are former players who were not recruited for a collegiate sporting career, but developed an aptitude for writing.
In addition to a degree and practical experience, writers must be experts on football, basketball, hockey and other games. They must know not only the rules of the game, but must also understand its history and have an intense knowledge of all key players, coaches and teams. Moreover, they must have a passion for athletics and a desire to provide fans with accurate and entertaining news.
Other skills important to the field of athletic journalism include strong interpersonal and networking abilities, an aptitude for spotting news as it occurs and the ability to write creatively while captivating an audience. Writers must also possess a strong sense of self-confidence and determination in order to endure the long hours and irregular work environment inherent in this field.
Writers employed by a newspaper or magazine typically work in an office. Because of the fact that writing can be done from anywhere and articles can be e-mailed in to meet deadlines, some companies allow their writers to telecommute. Freelance writers often have a home office used exclusively for their job.
Whether employed at a large corporation or writing news independently, one requirement of all writers is travel. In order to track down stories and gather accurate information, they must physically attend sporting events. Sometimes these events are held locally, but games are also held across the region or country. Writers may even travel internationally for coverage of the olympics, international football competitions and other events.
Due to the amount of travel and flexibility inherent in their jobs, almost all writers have sporadic and unreliable schedules. Games are often scheduled at night, so writers don't come to the office until the afternoon, when they typically take time to meet with publishers and editors to receive their assignments. They also spend a substantial amount of time on the phone, staying in contact with coaches, managers and athletes. Writers also work holidays and weekends, a time rife with activity in the athletic industry.
Though a writer's schedule is irregular, it is becoming increasingly more flexible through the use of current technological advancements. Writers can now email news articles instead of making a trip to the office or write while a game is still active through the use of a laptop or netbook.
Writer salaries vary widely depending on location, experience, aptitude and area of specialization. Freelance writers have the opportunity to earn higher incomes through syndication if they garner a devoted fan base. As in any business, there is also an increased level of risk for freelancers. On average, these writers earn around $49,000 annually.