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Sports writers are journalists who specialize in reporting about sporting events, teams, and athletes for print and online publications; some sports journalists also write books on sports subjects. To become a sports writer, a high school diploma is required and an undergraduate degree or higher is usually expected. Many sports writers have degrees in sports journalism, journalism, English, communications, or other related fields. In addition to specific degree programs in sports journalism, some colleges and universities also offer regular journalism degrees with tracks in sports writing. Strong nuts-and-bolts writing skills, including grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are needed.
Some sports writers cover several different sports, while others focus in one area, such as golf, car racing, basketball, or football. Like any writer who specializes in a subject, a person seeking to become a sports writer must have strong knowledge about the topic. Sports writers not only report on the results of games, races, and other competitions, but they may also be called upon to analyze game and sporting event results and offer insight about the performance of individual athletes and teams.
Along with a solid education, it is important to show prospective employers published writing samples when aspiring to become a sports writer. To gain samples, or "clips," as they are called, beginning sports writers often report for their high school or college newspapers. They may also work as paid or unpaid interns at publications. Some writers start out by volunteering to report for local newspapers that require high volumes of coverage for high school and college competitions. Gaining experience in these ways provides opportunities to get clips and to make connections in the field.
Reading and studying articles and columns from working professionals in sports journalism are also important when seeking to become a sports writer. Attending writing classes, workshops, and seminars will help beginning sports writers hone their skills. Interacting with other writers will also offer networking opportunities.
Besides having strong interviewing and reporting skills, sports writers must be deadline-oriented. They should have a head for numbers to keep track of sports scores and statistics. A flexible and enthusiastic personality is important when wanting to become a sports writer, because games may go into overtime or be canceled, and bad weather can make watching uncomfortable. Passion for sports is a must in order to understand and connect with fans. To build relationships with athletes, coaches, and other sports personnel, sports writers must be personable and have excellent communication skills.
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