Being a sports journalist, or writing about sports for a living or on a regular basis, is a dream for many people, as it combines two passions into one profession. The sports world has boomed in recent decades, as leagues have become more organized through television contracts; twenty-four hour sports channels became as common as twenty-four hour hard news channels; and athletes were suddenly being portrayed as larger-than-life celebrities. With the growth of an industry that creates a product as widely loved, analyzed and observed as sports, the demand for freelance sports writers has constantly gone up.
However, despite demand, it’s not exactly easy to land a job as a freelance sports writer. The first tip that any aspiring writer who wants to report on sports should know is obvious: you must really love sports. You must know how the game is played, the history of the game, and the players from the past and present. This doesn’t mean you need to be a number crunching statistician, or even know every sport out there. But if a writer really loves basketball, he or she should learn all about how the sport became popular, how to play the game and who the greatest players are in order to write effectively about it.
On that note, focusing on the major sports is another helpful tip. The major sports for freelance sports writers to report on are football, basketball, baseball, auto racing and hockey. Soccer is becoming more popular in America, as well as a number of other smaller sports, but those five aforementioned games are the ones freelance sports writers must know about if they want to get steady work in the sporting news industry. The more they know about each, the more versatile they will be as sports journalists, making them more of an asset to any outlet.
Beyond becoming an expert at sports, finding ways to write about sports for as many publications as possible is key to advancing your sports writing career. Write a few free assignments for people who need sports posts off Craigslist, write for Bleacher Report, write your own sports blog—this will build up your samples so you can present them to an editor who is looking to hire a sports writer for a real paying job. It is also a good idea to try and get an internship as a sports writer, if you can afford and work your way onto a sports reporting team. While it may not result in a paying job immediately, you’ll learn a ton about the profession.
E.K. is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.