The journalism that specializes in reporting on sports events and topics is termed as sports journalism and has grown in importance over the last few decades. Most news media organizations have a special section for sports. There are also many publications which are completely sports oriented. Popular newspapers and magazines like L'Equipe in France, La Gazzetta Dello Sport in Italy, Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News in America, and television networks like ESPN and Star Sports are all exclusively for sports.
The career path of becoming a sports journalist is relatively straightforward and besides a passion for sports requires you to have an acumen for creative writing and the ability to communicate with sports fan your experience, insight and knowledge of sports events.
Media houses which employ sports journalists expect a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in journalism, preferably with a major in sports journalism or some relatedexperience. Entry level aspirants can also apply for an internship in the sports department of a media house to gain experience. A master’s degree in sports journalism will help in upgrading your knowledge and skills in the craft.
The US that hosts some of the largest sporting events in the world is considered the best country to pursue an undergraduate course in sports journalism. A bachelor’s degree in journalism with sports as a major takes 4 years to complete. Postgraduate degree programs in sports journalism in the US takes two years while associate degree or certificate programs can be completed in one to two years.
The UK offers 3 years full-time Sports Journalism BA (Hons) bachelor’s degree programs. Some universities also offer a 4 years course (including one year of foundation entry program.)
In India, the specialization in sports journalism is only available at a master’s level or as a certificate course. The best way forward to pursue a career in sports journalism in India is by first acquiring a bachelor’s degree in journalism, then specializing through a postgraduate, postgraduate diploma or certificate course in sports journalism.
Application to some of the top colleges and universities in India for the 3 years BA Journalism course is through their respective entrance exams, some of which are the Central Admission Test for University of Delhi, the Manipal University Online Entrance Test (MU- OET) for Manipal University, the Undergraduate Entrance Test (UET) for Banaras Hindu University and the Symbiosis Entrance Test (SET) for admission to the journalism courses in Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication<.a>.
In India, sports journalism has caught up in a big way after the introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket in 2008. Following the IPL success, many other sports events have been initiated and are now held seasonally. Some examples of the new sports events/tournament in India are - the Indian Hockey League, the Pro Kabaddi League, the Indian Super League (for soccer), Indian Wrestling League, Indian Badminton League, the Golf Premier League, Indian Volley League and the Indian Racing League.
Once you have acquired the relevant qualification, you can start working as a sports journalist with a media house. On a day to day basis, your job responsibilities as a sports journalist would include attending the editorial meetings to discuss and understand assignments and publishing schedules (deadlines). In preparation of the editorials, you will conduct interviews, read and research relevant material and attend related games, tournaments and even press conferences. You will then present the accumulated information in the form of editorial articles or broadcasting scripts which will then get published in the newspaper/magazine/online media or get broadcasted on television or radio. With some experience, you can broadcast your own editorials. Experienced sports journalists also get to work as a play-by-play announcer/broadcaster. That however takes time.
Networking with sports personalities, athletes, their managers and coaches is another aspect of the work profile. Many sports journalists work independently and for multiple media houses..
The top industries that employ sports journalists are:
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Although sports journalism is itself a specialized area in journalism, there are further segregations within this field. Some sports journalists solely cover one professional sports team, while others produce articles on varied teams, tournaments and events. Some focus on profiling and interviewing athletes, while others on game highlights and results. Many times, the job of a sports journalisttransitions into a public relations role for a university or professional sports team. Some examples of sports journalist jobs are:
Some of the other jobs relevant to sports journalists that can be practised with some mentoring guidance are:
Sports journalists are in great demand world over. The best countries for a career in sports journalism are United States (Greater New York City area), United Kingdom (London), Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Australia (Sydney).
Some of the top companies which hire sports journalists at an international level are:
In India, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru offer the best employment opportunities in sports journalism. Some of the top media houses in India for a career in sports journalism are:
In the US, the average monthly salary ranges from approximately $2,400 for Sports Writers to $7,600 for Sports Directors. On an average, journalists, editors and social media specialists make between $3,800 to $4,200 a month. An Indian sports journalist makes an average of Rs. 30,000 a month. Experienced professionals in the field can make up to Rs. 80,000 a month.
A broad understanding of the sports business, detailed industry knowledge, creativity, communication skills, ability to read and research, and connect with sports fans are some of the essential skills to make it big in this profession. Sports journalism is a glamorous field of work but comes with its unique challenges.
Having risen to fame as the back page columnist for Sports Illustrated magazine, Rick Reillynow runs his own interview show on ESPN - Homecoming with Rick Reilly. He is the eleven times winner of the NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year. He is also a writer for ABC sports and has even co-authored the screenplay of the George Clooney directed movie ‘Leatherheads.’
An Indian journalist with the STAR network, Mayanti Langer is one of the most famous female sports anchor, host and commentator. She has hosted some of the biggest tournaments like the Zee Sports Football Cafe, 2010 FIFA World Cup on ESPN, 2010 Commonwealth Games, Cricket World Cup 2011, the Indian Super League 2014 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Having started his sports journalism career by interning at The Boston Globe and then spending his entire journalism career there, Bob Ryan rose to fame with his knowledge and insight about basketball so much so that he was nicknamed the ‘guru of basketball.’ He has contributed many articles about the Boston Celtics. Apart from writing, he hosts a sports talk show on the New England Sports Network.
1850 Sports writing attracts newspaper readership and builds a worldwide image of the US as an athletic power
1885 In US, Major League Baseball players create a players’ union
1921 In India, for the first time a sporting event (boxing match) is broadcast on the radio station KDKA
1934 The Ford Motor Company pays $100,000 to sponsor the World Series on radio
1957 India sees the beginning of aball-by-ball commentary of test matches
1958 Television time-outs’ are introduced for the first time to increase revenue generation
1974 - 1984 Network programming hours for sports aredoubled
2008 Sports journalism in India reaches new heights with the introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket