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What does a Sports Columnist do?

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  • Written By: Leo J
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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A sports columnist is a writer whose primary job is to give his or her opinion on sports. He or she is typically someone who has many years of experience, and therefore has developed a respected presence within a sports community to the point that his or her opinion is highly regarded among readers.

Because the job of a sports columnist is to give his or her opinion, these writers are often thought of as being rude or disagreeable. The tone of their work is often negative, but their job is also to find stories which might otherwise not be found — a sports columnist must typically become a newspaper's best sports reporter first. Depending on the status of a newspaper within a community, someone in this position can often influence public opinion and thus influence the actions of a team, at least in a small way. If such a columnist calls for a coach to be fired, and the public opinion becomes that the coach should be fired, the team could be inclined to fire that coach.

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A sports columnist is generally required to write somewhere around three columns per week. Columns can be generated from games or events — usually, the columnist will accompany a reporter to a game, writing a column to go along with the game story — or they can be more like features. These feature-type columns often resemble features more than columns, with perhaps only a veiled opinion underlying the tone of the column. The columnist might also be required to write an occasional "takeout" — a particularly long and multilayered feature — once a month or so.

Because of the relatively light workload, and because of the experience and status the writer has attained through his or her career, it is common for a sports columnist to branch out into writing books, which can be one of the most lucrative opportunities afforded a sports journalist. In modern times, it has become common for columnists at very large metropolitan newspapers to branch into radio and television work.

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Drentel
Post 3
Sporkasia - If columnists could stick to insider information and sports rumors, then I might not have such a low opinion of them. It really bothers me when reporters sit behind a computer and pretend they know more about playing baseball or football than the people who play and coach the sports for a living -- people who have devoted most of their lives to their sports.

I could also tolerate sports columnists more if they were less negative, and didn't attack the players on a personal level.

Sporkasia
Post 2

Drentel - From your post, it sounds like you have a low opinion of sports columnists. As a sports fan, I am most interested in facts and scores also. I firmly believe the games should be more important than the athletes who play them and definitely more important than the reporters who cover them. However, I have to admit that sometimes I enjoy reading the sports columns.

I have a short list of my favorite columnists and I like to compare their thoughts, observations and opinions with my own. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I disagree. Either way, I enjoy seeing how someone else looks at sports transactions and issues.

Drentel
Post 1

Don't get me started on sports columnists. Why do we (sports fans) even want the opinions of these guys? Most columnists have never played any more than pee wee sports and they probably were not very good when they played at that level. If they had been then they would still be playing. When I read the sports page I want the facts, the scores and stats. I have no use for the all-too-many sports columns written by people who know less about the games than I know.

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