Sports Journalist Career Profile

A sports journalist writes about sports for newspapers, magazines or websites and, sometimes, for a combination of any two of these. As a sports journalist, you have to write breaking news; updates on games, teams, county clubs, series or tournaments; biographies of players; injury information; the latest news on coaches and anything pertaining to sports that may draw an audience. A sports journalist has the dual responsibility of informing and entertaining the audience or target population with writing and reporting.

Basic Tasks

  • Learn about various sports and the technicalities or strategies involved in them.
  • Travel to sports venue and observe the sporting event keenly.
  • Score the match and observe the details with attention and accuracy.
  • Conduct historical research relevant to certain sports, teams or athletes.
  • Write down informative and insightful reports and edit the written information to prepare an interesting final draft of the story or article.
  • Interview sports personalities or their mentors for special features.
  • Take photographs of the crucial points in a match and choose the one best suited for publication or broadcast.
  • Search and gather biographic data or profiles about the athletes for a feature story.
  • Coordinate with editors, co-writers and publishers to obtain assignments.

Work Schedule

There are no fixed work hours for a sports journalist, as you have to follow the schedule of sporting events, which are often in the evenings and on weekends. Your schedule will mimic the season and schedules of the teams that you are following. For instance, many times, the stories are needed before the newspaper is printed. If the sporting event does not end until 10 pm the night before, you will be writing your article until midnight or until it is complete. That same article may be posted on the website about 5 minutes after its completion.  

Salary/Wages

The salary of sports journalists varies based on employer size, media, sports covered, travel and experience. A sports journalist who writes for a magazine or website or reports for a broadcast station earns more than those working for a radio station. For starters in this field, the annual salary can be in the range of $30,000 to $50,000. As you gain experience and exposure, after about 20 years have passed, your salary can rise to be between $40,000 and $90,000. These figures are from April 2010.

Opportunities for Advancement

Career advancement in this field is really tough and requires the consistent improvement of your writing strategy and methods to attract a strong support base. If your writing and popularity are remarkable, you can advance to positions with greater clout, like editor and even chief editor.

Types of Sports Journalists

A sports journalist basically works for print or broadcast media. Within these two categories, many types of sports journalism exist. A freelance sports writer publishes or syndicates his articles in more than one newspaper or publishing house. A sports beat writer writes the information about the sporting and gaming activities of an educational institution. A sports reporter is a journalist who produces and anchors sports coverage. There are new avenues for a sports writer in the form of blogs, websites and e-magazines.

Final Word

Print journalism and broadcast sports journalism are highly competitive fields, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thus, journalists who begin their careers with relevant internships can acquire better opportunities than those without internships. If you are an ardent lover of sports and travel and have striking writing and communicational skills, then this career may be right up your alley.