Education Good experience

Building a Career as a Sports Journalist

Written by Jimmy Rustling

If you are a big fan of sports and you want to convey your passion and love of sports over to others, then a career in sports journalism is the right path for you to follow. Sports journalists follow and report on what is happening in the sporting world, and this could be anything from reporting on the weekend’s basketball fixtures to the out-of-state soccer competition.4

Whether you play a sport yourself or are a passionate fan yourself, a career as a sports journalist is never dull, but it is rewarding. Conveying information, interviews, and information over to fans and followers in an engaging and enthusiastic manner is what a good journalist does, and if this is something that you want to do, then you need to know where to begin.

Where to Start

A good starting point is to begin looking at sports journalism degrees online because you will need to return to studying should you wish to pursue and build a career. Becoming a journalist requires you to learn how to research hot topics, and it requires you to learn how to get across a story in an engaging manner. There is more to sports journalism than just telling fans and followers what the scores or results are, and this is why you must focus on looking at sports journalism degrees.

Education is Key

If you want to be a fantastic journalist, then education is the key. Through a solid educational background, you can learn how to write and report effectively, and you can learn how to create content that captures people’s imaginations and interest. As a sports journalist, you need to know how to communicate well and effectively, and the real way to learn how to do this is to return to studying and get your Master’s. There are, of course, certain skills that can be learned and harnessed along the way, such as social skills, but to hone and harness interviewing skills and techniques, you must learn about how to effectively interview people as there is no one size fits all approach. When you refocus on education and focus on sports journalism degrees, you alter your mindset. You look at identifying and solving problems, which is what a good journalist will always try to do.

Studying from Home and Online

Now that you are aware of how important studying sports journalism degrees are to your career as a sports journalist, you must buckle down and focus on your studies. As studying is flexible, you get the opportunity to study and learn from your home and online at a pace that suits you, and this is ideal if you are juggling other commitments such as a family and job.

If you have never done it before, studying online can be a little different and perhaps even a little bit difficult to get used to at first. When you are working on your home, you must be focused, and you must be dedicated. From your home and online, there are so many things that can take away your interests and your time and just ultimately end up distracting you and leading you to procrastinate. To avoid getting sucked into these distractions, it is important to create a peaceful and dedicated workspace within your home. Having a dedicated workspace or study space is important for your mental wellbeing, focus, and discipline, and it is also important for those that share your home. When there is a physical boundary in place, people within your home will respect when you are studying and when you are working, and they will allow you to get on in an environment that is peaceful and quiet.

Managing Studying and Your Other Commitments

As part of your studies and as part of your career, you will have to learn how to manage multiple things at once. For example, while you are studying, you may well be juggling childcare, household chores, and work, all of which can get on top of you if you are not careful and organized.

Organization is important as it ensures that you can get everything done as and when required. If you are not organized, you cannot be efficient, and you will struggle to meet deadlines, which will ultimately mean that you ultimately fall behind. Time management learned and harnessed during your time of study will also be beneficial to your role as a sports journalist. As a journalist, your time will be limited, and it will always be stretched and because you will be under time constraints and time pressures, you must be aware of what you can and cannot achieve within a set timeframe. Deadlines will always need to be met, and to ensure that they are, you must focus on prioritizing your commitments. Juggling everything and delegating as and where you can ensure that success at studying for sports journalism degrees and success as a sports journalist is well within your reach.

A Passion for Sports

To build a successful career and to be seen as an expert, you must be passionate about sports; if you are not passionate, then this will come across in your writing and in your reporting, and to put it simply, your audience will lose interest and look elsewhere to get their sports information and updates. Of course, you do not have to be an expert in every single sport, and you are not expected to know every rule of every game, but if you have a genuine interest in all kinds of sports at all levels, and you are open to learning and developing your knowledge, then you will be able to build a successful and long-lasting career. Being highly adaptable and versatile are a couple of skills that all journalists need to succeed in a competitive and tough industry.

What Sports to Follow and Focus on

Having a passion for all sports and sporting events is important, but you may wish to specialize in what you cover and write about a little bit further down the line as a sports journalist. To begin with, you cannot be picky, and you must try to enhance and improve both your journalistic skills and experience by covering and writing about all kinds of sports. Once you have enough experience under your belt and know how to write to attract attention and interest, you can start focusing more on sports you are interested in.

Focusing on a sport or sports will allow you to become an expert in your field. When you become an expert journalist a little further down the line, you can command attention, respect, and the financial rewards that come with being a respected and knowledgeable sports journalist. The sports that you follow and focus on early on within your career may be things that interest you, or they may be things you do not enjoy watching; whether you enjoy them at this stage of your career is a little bit irrelevant. Your passion for all sports should overcome any obstacles you face, and ultimately your passion should ensure that you create engaging and appealing content all the time, whether you enjoy the sport you are writing about and discussing or not.

Traits of a Fantastic Journalist

You may not start off as the best journalist around, but with practice and persistence, you can become a fantastic journalist. So, in addition to persistence and practice, what other traits do you need to be successful.

  • Perseverance – You will at times feel like giving up, especially in the early days when deadlines feel never-ending, and you feel like you are facing a never-ending uphill battle, but, if you have perseverance, you will be able to soldier on through anything, and you will be able to come out the other side. When you persevere, you bring out skills and traits that you may not have even realized you had until you were put to the test.
  • Good Listening Skills – All sports journalists love to talk, and they love to get their views and points across, but sometimes it is important to remember that you must listen as well as talk. When you listen, you certainly hear more which is what a good journalist needs to put together creative and engaging pieces of work.
  • Opinionated – No good journalist sits on the fence, and this is what you remember. Opinions count, and they matter, and if you are not opinionated, then you are not doing your job properly. As a sports journalist, you learn to convey your opinion, and you learn how to back up claims you make. Harnessing your opinion and not just being outspoken is something that you can learn over time, and it is also something that you can learn through sports journalism degrees.

Continuous Development of Your Skills

As well as looking at sports journalism degrees for continuous development, you will also want to focus on developing your skills and attributes. For example, if you know that you need to be better at speaking to people at all levels, then join networking groups and ice breaker sessions that allow you to break down any barriers or obstacles you may be facing.  Being a great sports journalist is all about seeing how you can improve and develop yourself. As you start out in your career and build a successful career, you will see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and it is from here, you will be able to focus on continuous development and advancement of your skills.

Setting Out Goals and Ambitions

Throughout your studies and your development as a journalist, it is important that you set out ambitions and goals. Even when you are just setting out into the world of journalism, it is important to have a clear focus and direction regarding where you want to be and when. Your goals could be something related to studying, such as completing one of the sports journalism degrees on offer within a year, and your ambitions could be longer-term, for example, something like to be the best basketball journalist in the country, to get a job reporting on TV, or to be a writer for a well-known national paper within the next five years. Setting out goals and ambitions is important as they lay down the foundations for everything you want to do and achieve. Without ambitions and goals in place, then you will struggle to have direction, and you will struggle to stand out and be seen above your competitors.

To make your goals and ambitions realistic and achievable, it is important that you break them down into bite-sized chunks. When larger goals and targets are broken down, they are more manageable and easier to achieve.

How to Land a Position

Landing a sports journalist position is not always the easiest thing to do, but that, of course, does not mean that you cannot do it. From looking at sports journalism degrees to networking and building up contacts, you have been busily working your way towards landing a position without even realizing it. Landing a position is all about keeping your options open and keeping your ears to the ground. Talking to people and listening will help you get quick access to new openings, which could prove beneficial. Do not be afraid to take on work experience to land that position you want, and do not fear suffering knockbacks. Not everyone will say yes to you, and this is good as it allows you to see what you need to do for them to say yes in the future. When you have established where you need to improve and develop, then you will have no trouble landing a job that you deserve.

What makes for a Successful Journalist?

Once you have landed a position, it is now time to focus on success. Success is, of course, what you make of it, but a successful journalist is usually one that can get across their point and opinion in an engaging and informative manner. A successful journalist is a person that can spot gaps in the market, and that can bring out the best of any story they get their hands on. It is important to remember that success does not have to be measured on financial rewards only.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.