Is Sports Journalism Right for You?
Any sports fanatic knows a game can change in one play, and sport journalists take part in all the excitement. If you want to have the inside scoop for all things sports-related, then sports journalism may be for you! One of our CAA coaches had the pleasure of interviewing a rising sports journalist at ESPN, and we have loads of advice to share with you. Rule #1: Stay humble. Humility will take you everywhere you want to go. To make it as a sports journalist, you have to be more than just a sports enthusiast. You have to know each game, every team, and the terminology. This job also requires the ability to keep both teams’ fans engaged and to build a quick rapport with athletes and coaches who may be hesitant to speak with an unfamiliar person. One rough interview could negatively affect your reputation and make it difficult for success in the future. So, stay sharp on your communication skills and learn to accept criticism from your mentors and peers. It will only make you stronger. Rule #2: Never shy away from a microphone. Experience is key. Many sports journalists handle both play-by-play announcing and shooting/editing footage, which requires some tech savvy. To gain some technological skills in high school, check to see if your school offers video/television production or computer science classes. To challenge your writing and public-speaking skills, take advantage of other classes or extracurricular activities like yearbook, speech/debate, or even theater. Last but not least, start a journalism club or volunteer to do the school announcements, in particular the sports recap of last week’s games.
Rule #3: Never miss an opportunity to network. Work every room. When researching colleges, check for strong journalism, TV/radio/film production, or mass communications programs. Colleges should also have connections with local news and radio stations or have their own on-site stations. You will need all the hands-on experience you can get. Internship opportunities allow you to build your resume, while giving you a foot in the door if you choose to apply at the same place later. To gain more than the expected experience of a college graduate, join a journalism organization like the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to rub elbows with seasoned professionals. Organizations like SPJ can provide inside information as well as job recommendations. Rule #4: Follow the money. Know when to jump ship. Right now there is a 13 percent decline for careers in journalism, which is a hard statistic to swallow. This is mainly due to the rise of the digital age where social media is king and print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines) moonlights as court jester. Even with the decline in job opportunities, journalism is far from dead, but you have to be smart. You can intern for a newspaper or magazine, but don’t plan on a long career if the company isn’t staying current with digital media trends. No one bets on a dead horse. Sports journalism is a competitive field that lures professional athletes as well as budding writers. It will likely be tough for beginners, but it can be a fulfilling career for those who work hard to reach their goals. Give your CAA coaches a call with any questions about this interesting career. We’re rooting for you!