If you have a confident demeanour, good writing and storytelling skills and are a sport enthusiast; you are equipped with all the qualities required to become a sports journalist. Having said that, if you plan to pursue sports journalism as a career, then consider getting relevant formal education first.
A sports journalism degree opens doors for many people who have a passion for sports. Sports journalism is not limited to knowing, writing, producing or reporting sports related news; it extends beyond that. The degree covers areas pertaining to ethics, entertainment, and social implications of sports journalism.
How to become a sports journalist?
Traditionally, sports journalists were reporters or journalists who had an extended knowledge of sports. Most of them stumbled upon sports journalism either out of sheer luck or because of their love and inclination towards the subject. Media has played a vital role in revamping sports journalism, which is now considered to be an independent profession and most companies prefer hiring candidates with a degree.
Bachelor’s in Sports Journalism:
If you already have a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, you may have to take special courses to specialize in the field.
If you are aiming for a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and have decided to specialize in sports, you can opt for sports as your major, minor or concentration. The courses taught at this level include:
- Introduction to the sports industry.
- Sports media, sports reporting and writing: a hands-on training to write reports in different styles like features, news, articles, interviews etc.
- Broadcasting, producing and hosting sports shows: training on how to produce reports and how to broadcast them on media and TV shows.
- Sports information offices: learn the ins and outs of the sports information office and how it runs.
- Technical journalism skills: training of all the technical skills required in the field.
- Play-by-play, announcing, and other similar classes.
Depending upon your college or university, some additional courses may include advertising, public relations, kinesiology (the study of mechanics of body movements) and other classes related to the sports industry.
Master’s in Sports Journalism:
If you wish to have a Master’s degree in sports journalism, having an undergraduate degree in the same field is a prerequisite. At this level, you will get a chance to specialise in areas like:
- Public affairs: study of socio-political issues and how they affect the sports industry.
- Coverage of athletes/sporting events: you will learn the difference between covering amateur and professional athletes and sporting events (such as games and conferences).
- Online sports journalism: training of how to produce and present content that is attractive to the audiences.
The two-year program will enable you to study the field closely and experience various areas of sports journalism. As part of a sports journalism degree, you will also be required to take some additional courses. These normally include English composition or literature, history, psychology, public speaking, media law, media ethics, introduction to the various forms of media, computer applications, communications, advertising or other similar classes.
There are a number of universities that offer online sports journalism programs for those who wish to pursue the degree while holding a day job and at a more comfortable pace.
Why get a degree in sports journalism?
Sports journalism is not as simple as it might seem to be. Being properly trained in the field is crucial to your success. During your program, you are taught and trained by teachers and professors who are often seasoned sports journalists themselves. Learn from their experience and skills acquired through years of practice. Also, these teachers have established connections in the field that may improve your job prospects.
The courses in sports journalism cover every aspect that is relevant to the field. For example, a sports journalist may be required to produce and present a report regarding the suitability of a race track and state the probability of profit rate and success of the event. For this, one needs knowledge of media law, event structures and finances; all of which is taught in the degree program.
Another advantage of taking a degree course in sports journalism is that an internship comes as part of the program. An internship provides hands-on experience of working in sports fields and media offices. Nothing can match the knowledge gained through experience. Also, internships are often found to be a good starting point for a blooming career.
Job opportunities for a sports journalist:
Sports journalism is not limited to becoming a sports reporter or an on-field commentator. The field is vast and there are quite a few job opportunities for someone who has studied sports journalism.
- Sports writer/ reporter for print or web
- Sports editor for print or web
- Hosting TV, radio or web sports shows
- Producer/ director of sports shows
- Media representatives for teams and associations
- Sports information specialists
If becoming a sports journalist is your dream, browse this list of top universities in the US that offer degree programs for sports journalism.