How Do I Become a Sports Beat Writer?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Sports writers may start off with a focus on one sport they know fairly well.
Sports writers may start off with a focus on one sport they know fairly well.

While having a passion for sports is an important qualification you will need to become a sports beat writer, you will also need a combination of education and work experience that lends itself toward strong, detailed writing. Once you become a sports beat writer, you will be responsible for covering one sports team in most cases, and you will need to cover every game and transaction as they occur. This may mean you will need to travel often to cover games and events. A willingness to travel and an ability to record events as they happen will be important to the job.

Sports writers might get practice following junior leagues.
Sports writers might get practice following junior leagues.

You will need to complete high school or an equivalent qualification in order to become a sports beat writer. It may be possible to get a job without a college degree, but your chances are significantly improved if you earn a college degree in journalism, English or another relevant language, or communications. This field can be quite competitive, so employers will often sort through job candidates by finding the ones with college degrees as well as sports backgrounds. Participate in or follow team sports as often as possible, and develop a passion for sports that will be evident in your writing once you become a sports beat writer. It may help you to choose one sport in which to specialize; learn the rules and regulations of this sport thoroughly.

Try to write as much as possible for local newspapers, magazines, and websites; this will help you accrue the portfolio you will need to become a sports beat writer.
Try to write as much as possible for local newspapers, magazines, and websites; this will help you accrue the portfolio you will need to become a sports beat writer.

It is a good idea to take an entry-level position with a sports organization while you work on your degree or on elevating yourself to a sports writer position. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about the organization and develop meaningful business relationships that may help you get a sports writing position later on. Try to write as much as possible for local newspapers, magazines, and websites; this will help you accrue the portfolio you will need to become a sports beat writer. Present your best work to employers when you apply for a position, and stay active in the sports world consistently by writing as much as possible.

Some sports writers focus on a particular sport.
Some sports writers focus on a particular sport.

Be sure to research various job openings, even if you do not yet qualify for them. Read the job descriptions carefully to find out what employers are looking for in a sports beat writer. Try to earn credentials that will mesh with the desires and needs of a potential employer, and begin to apply for jobs as you develop these credentials.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia

@Animandel - I agree that there are some legitimate intern positions for sports writers on the Internet, but you have to be careful. Many of those ads are simply attempting to get free writing and the interns get no valuable learning experiences.

Anyone responding to one of these ads should be particularly careful when asked to respond with a written sample on a particular subject. Someone may be trying to get you to write them a free article and then never offer you a position.

If you want to be a sports beat writer, read the best writers who write about what you want to write about. This is a great way to learn.

Animandel

The article mentions that small newspapers are good starting points for future sports beat writers. I also see more and more ads online for reporters for sports blogs and other types of Internet sports publications. This might be a good way to get your name in print and add a few lines to your resume.

Besides, there are fewer small newspapers today and getting fewer all the time, so the Internet is even more valuable because of this.

Feryll

@Laotionne - On one of the local TV newscasts that I watch, the anchor guy recently retired. He was a legendary figure in this area, and many people watched the news because they felt like they knew him. Instead of replacing the guy with a new face, the station moved the sports guy to the news anchor position.

The sports guy had been around for a long time, too, and I guess the station thought viewers would be more comfortable with him and thus continue to watch the telecasts. So, I don't know how common this switch from sports to news is, but it does happen.

Laotionne

Does anyone know how difficult it is to switch from a sports reporter to a news reporter once you have been in the profession a while. Do you have to go back to school or do you just ask for a transfer?

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    • Sports writers may start off with a focus on one sport they know fairly well.
      By: Daniel Thornberg
      Sports writers may start off with a focus on one sport they know fairly well.
    • Sports writers might get practice following junior leagues.
      By: Actionpics
      Sports writers might get practice following junior leagues.
    • Try to write as much as possible for local newspapers, magazines, and websites; this will help you accrue the portfolio you will need to become a sports beat writer.
      By: artshotphoto
      Try to write as much as possible for local newspapers, magazines, and websites; this will help you accrue the portfolio you will need to become a sports beat writer.
    • Some sports writers focus on a particular sport.
      By: Paco Ayala
      Some sports writers focus on a particular sport.
    • Having a background in various sports may help in becoming a sports writer.
      By: Michael Chamberlin
      Having a background in various sports may help in becoming a sports writer.