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Sports columnists are professional journalists who inform readers about what is going on in sports. The job may entail focusing solely on one sport or many sports. Sports columnists may be freelance writers or they may write for a local newspaper, website, sports magazine, television sports show, or syndicated column. To become a sports columnist, you will generally need a college degree and a college sport writing internship.
Typically, getting a college degree in English literature, American literature, or journalism is important if you want to become a sports columnist. English literature, American literature, or journalism are all writing-intensive majors that will give you the type of training you need to become a good columnist. Granted, taking an alternative path such as getting a degree in cultural media and sports could be done as well.
In addition to the aforementioned majors, a college sports writing internship can be helpful. Doing an internship could be a positive step for you because the internship will supplement your classroom learning and help you build your writing portfolio which can be used to help you apply for a job after college. The career services department at your college should be able to help you locate and apply for a suitable internship in sports writing.
You will most likely apply for your first sports-related writing job during the final semester of college. Of course, keep in mind that your first sports writing job may not be what you necessarily expect. For example, you may find yourself covering local sports, not meeting any famous athletes, researching player statistics, or doing fact checking instead of writing when you first begin working. It may be years before you are given the opportunity to have your own sports column.
Work hours for sports columnists can be long. Also, sports columnists must be skilled at writing, editing, and meeting deadlines. Good interpersonal skills are also helpful since sports columnists must often interview players, coaches, team owners, and others relevant to sports.
It is necessary to keep in mind that if you become a sports columnist, your life will be consumed by sports. For instance, if you are covering a professional sports team and that team happens to have a game on Thanksgiving or Christmas, it means that you will have to work on those holidays. So, if you want to become a sports columnist, you have to be comfortable with making that kind of sacrifice.
Also, sports columnists must be talented at capturing the moment. This is an ability that transcends the ability to merely put together coherent sentences for an article. For example, the sports columnist must accurately describe the sports events that are occurring while also conveying the excitement or mood of the sports event. Being able to write like that is not always easy. Thus, a sports columnist must be an extremely talented writer.
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