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A sports writer is someone who delivers 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 sports 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.
A sports writer will 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 a 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. Sports 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 sports 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.
Sports 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 sports 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 sports 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. Sports 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 sports 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.
The typical sports 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.
One of the more convenient and lucrative ways of being a sports writer is to take it up on a freelance basis. There are a number of ways you can obtain such contracts that will not only get your work published but offer you the financial consideration you need to make this a full time profession.
Most writers decide to become sports journalists not so much because they want to make big bucks but rather because they have a passion for the field and want to earn their living doing something there are passionate about.
I got my start as a general assignment sports reporter for the New York Daily News, but my interest in the paper’s yet-to-be-burgeoning web site at the time — and the fact that I’m an Internet junkie — inspired me to write a series of memos to the editor in chief with suggestions as to how to bring it into the 21st Century.
sportsjournalists.co.uk has placed a mole inside one of the country’s leading titles to discover what it is really like being a student on work experience on the sports desk of a national newspaper...
KEITH ELLIOTT, the SJA’s training adviser, on what is really needed to enter the profession... Wish I had a pound for everyone who comes to see me saying: “I’d like a job in sports journalism.” Sadly, their qualifications rarely match their ambitions.
Sports writers keep fans in touch with their favorite sports and teams. With television providing immediate coverage, in-depth reporting is expected from today's sports writer.