Before we get into some handy tips and hints about becoming a sports writer, we should say that if you are looking at this as a way to make your riches then you should start searching elsewhere.
There may be some columnists on the most prestigious titles bringing in serious money, but for the majority of sports writers it is a labor of love. You may get some interesting insight and be able to have an informed eye for the odds on sites like BetUS but, in reality, sports writing is a tough gig. But a hugely rewarding one at the same time. Here are five tips to help you along the way.
Write, Write, Write
It is always surprising to learn how many prospective sports writers don’t actually write that much before trying to get a job in the industry. There are more opportunities than ever these days to create your own personal place for your written work – and no real excuse not to.
Start your own blog and write about the things you love about the sport – as well as the things you don’t like. This is the perfect time to work on your writing skills without someone disregarding or binning your work. Take the time to hone your talent now and it will pay off in the future.
But Also Read
If you want to become a good sports writer you should be reading copy by great sports writers. Don’t look at this as an exercise in copying what makes them so compelling though, this should be done with an eye on evaluating your own writing.
As a sports writer, part of your job will be reading other writers. You should also be reading about sports because it is your passion. It is true that in any form of writing you learn a lot from seeing how the greats do the job. You may never be as good as them – but you should have aspirations.
A large part of your time as a sports writer will probably be taken up speaking to athletes and players. Getting a good interview can be hugely exciting, as well as rewarding. But it can also be nerve-wracking for beginners. So, even if your school is not Division I, ask to interview the athletes on the sports teams.
Not only will you probably get better insight into how college sports works than by doing anything else, the athletes and those in charge of the programs will be only too happy to agree to talk with you. The exposure you can provide by them granting the interviews is a win-win situation.
Edit Yourself (and then listen to Editors)
This tip is especially true if you have started off by writing your own blog (which you should absolutely be doing, by the way). As much as it is heartening to hear that you love your school’s basketball team so much that you have written a 10,000-word article on their chances this season – many others will not be so enamored.
You should learn how to write shorter pieces that get straight to the point. You will be dealing with tight deadlines and word counts for the rest of your life if you are successful, so look to edit your own work now and get used to it. When you land the good jobs you will then get to learn so much more from truly great editors.
Create Your Work Own Work Experience
You will already know that getting an internship at a good newspaper or broadcaster is key to making some of the contacts that you can use in your career. But if getting those places to listen to you is difficult, create your own work experience.
This touches on almost all the other tips here. Write, interview and edit your own work – and then pitch. You will need to hone these skills to become a great sports writer. Why not start now?