In order to become a sports producer, one must generally have not only a knowledge and love of sports, but also at least some experience in television production and studio work. The sports producer is essentially the “boss” of a certain sports program. He or she decides on content, sets the agenda for the show, and is responsible for following developing stories and making last-minute changes. You will generally need at least some television studio experience before you can become a sports producer.
The easiest way to become a sports producer is to have several years of progressive sports broadcasting experience, as well as some kind of name recognition in the field. Many producers joined their studios as production assistants or broadcasters. Others join even lower in the ranks, doing such things as filing, scoring, or other administrative tasks. Regardless of the job you start out taking, it is likely that you will need a college degree before you can be promoted to sports producer.
In the past, broadcasting corporations were often structured such that promotions were almost all internal, and even the lowliest employees would get promoted eventually, provided they showed drive and determination. This sort of internal promotion still happens today, but it is increasingly rare for senior producers to have no formal schooling in broadcasting or management. The world of sports network affiliates is more robust today than it has been in years past. With this comes a more competitive job market. Networks increasingly look outside of their own walls for new talent with both experience and education.
The best college degrees to prepare to become a sports producer are usually journalism, communications, and marketing. Much of what a producer does involves selling the show, both to viewers and to higher executives. Some of this involves managing sports journalists and network team members. Everyone who works on a sports show works under the sports producer, who in turn works for the overall sports director or coordinating producer. Experience in what journalists do and how a network show operates is essential for success in the job.
For this reason, it is rare for someone to become a sports producer right out of school. A better thing to do is to look for jobs working under the sort of producer that you want to become. Take a job as a sportscaster and pay attention to how the producer directs you. Work as a broadcast journalist to get a feel for studio culture. A job as a production assistant is also a great way to get a hands-on feel for the job.
It is also important to keep in mind that you do not usually need specifically sports-related experience in order to become a sports producer. Most production companies and networks are looking for studio experience in general. Liking and understanding sports is usually essential, but television work experience is often interchangeable. So long as you have some history working in TV broadcasting, you will likely be a compelling candidate to become a sports producer.