sports journalism

It is quite common for boys to be introduced to sport at an early age as it is fun and because a child can benefit from an abundance of learning experiences, but why should boys have all the fun? In recent decades, girls have also learned the benefits of sports activities, and now professional leagues beckon both sexes to compete at higher levels.

Unfortunately, the odds of becoming a professional athlete after high school and college can be far less than 1%, according to studies by the National Collegiate Athletics Association. It takes more than talent and good coaching to rise to the highest ranks in sports, and many individuals, both men and women who dreamed of the pro leagues, have become discouraged and looked elsewhere for a career outside of the sporting arena.

This sudden decision about a career move to some other field, however, need not be the case. Sports today are big business, and as such, there is a multitude of related jobs begging for enthusiastic candidates. The possibilities are endless, and these jobs are not just those related to a specific team or league. The sports industry is multi-faceted, and a sports journalism degree can be your key for entering this exciting field.

Even if you have already completed your college degree and coursework, there are several options that you may pursue in order to break into this industry. There are many accredited sports journalism graduate programs that an aspiring individual can take online and at their own pace, but one of the best programs is offered by St. Bonaventure University. You may obtain your graduate degree in one and a half years, it is completely online, and there is no application fee or GRE/GMAT test score required in order to apply.

This article will explore the roles and potential salaries for a sports journalist. It will also look at the business aspects of sports and why they need to be understood by prospective sports journalists.

What is sports journalism?

Do you have a penchant for sports and for writing about them? If so, then a graduate degree in sports journalism may be worth your consideration. You may soon find yourself writing content for publications on the internet, for a newspaper or a magazine, or for any number of websites focused on sporting activities. Alternatively, you might end up involved in the broadcasting of live events or moving up the chain of command in sports management or a related field of endeavor.

The role of a sports journalist primarily involves the reporting of amateur and professional sporting events, whether it be aggregating statistics, onsite interviews, preparing commentary, or working in a variety of media distribution channels, including radio, online, television or printed publications. Job forecasts for this specific career category of reporters and correspondents reflect a contraction over the next decade. This is related to the automation and consolidation of media outlets, a general trend.

However, it is important to remember that the skills involved in obtaining a graduate degree in sports journalism will open several other doors of opportunity along your path. Researching, interviewing and writing are at the heart of all communication efforts in any industry, but especially within sports. A graduate degree will also put you in the highest quartile of candidates for open positions, whether they are in marketing, research, media content or even live broadcasting.

Aside from sports media opportunities, the possibilities broaden greatly once you have established a foundation in the industry. Talent acquisition, training and coaching are more hands-on, but there is an entire channel for event coordination and facilities management, and there are many marketing support positions. Currently, women handle 34% of administrative back-office jobs in college sports.

If you lean to the performance support genre, the field includes nutrition, physical therapy, sports apparel design, personal training, sporting goods merchandising, and administration and management. Lastly, combining all elements in the sports field, along with communication skills and the desire to help people, can also easily lead to becoming a life coach, a meaningful and fulfilling career path for the right candidate.

The competition for pure sports journalism and broadcasting positions will always be high, but the primary benefit of pursuing this line of study is that it opens the door to a multitude of possibilities within the entire sports industry, an industry expected to grow over the next decade. If sports are truly your passion, then it would be wise to invest in your future now.

Reasons to become a sports journalist

If your love affair with sports began the first time you picked up a bat, kicked a ball or scored a basket, then the best reason for pursuing a credential in sports journalism is because you are passionate about it and know that you will have fun on this exciting career path. There will always be challenges, but your motivation is steadfast, and you will always be eager to learn more about your craft and the various players within it.

An additional fun element is the travel involved, and it will be at your employer’s expense, whether you work for a direct media outlet or perform freelance support. The possibilities begin locally but can quickly lead to national and even international assignments. As you travel, your network and access to other potentially rewarding opportunities will expand. Assignments also tend to come with a high degree of flexibility, allowing for remote and onsite duties, according to your own schedule.

In today’s modern workplace, networking is essential to landing new job opportunities, even before they are ever posted or announced on a media platform. The travel component of your job will enhance your professional connections, help you access important information, and give you a competitive advantage over other candidates in your field of endeavor. Face-to-face meetings can facilitate long-term relationships, and a rule of thumb is that networking is essential for success in any chosen career.

What is the curriculum for a sports journalism degree?

Although sports have been around for quite some time, sports journalism is relatively new from a perspective of advanced studies. The course of study will include everything from the history of the discipline to ethics and how the role of a sports journalist will change in the future within the context of our digital age. You will also earn how to enter this industry and the many career opportunities that will be available to you as you progress down your chosen path.

The initial courses will focus on the history of a sports journalist, how to research an idea, and how to write compelling articles and express your opinion while eliminating bias. Additional study will involve interviewing, reporting and broadcasting within the context of ethics governance, merchandising, athlete management, marketing and broadcast rights. For example, a sports journalist must understand how broadcast rights work to be able to view the sports correctly and not impeach the rights of the broadcasters by infringing the copyright of a journalist’s coverage.

Athlete management can relate to interviews to obtain insights, management of the athlete’s career, and related endorsement and sponsorship deals. Insights gained can enhance your ability to engage fans and make predictions about the outcomes of sporting events. For example, if a player is injured, how they are being treated can be used as a reference point for their future performance. If they have changed trainers, then their approach to the game may have changed and could affect their overall game performance.

A major piece of the curriculum will pertain to advertising, promotion and marketing. Expertise in this area can open several doors down the road and could involve the direct marketing of a single event, selling merchandise, or working on behalf of an athlete to promote their career. Imagine working with major brands such as Nike, Adidas or Under Armour for an individual client or for the corporation at large.

What specific skills will you learn with a master’s in sports journalism?

The best programs will teach you how to navigate this competitive medium by providing the latest insights from proven performers in the industry from ESPN, USA Today and other respected forums for sports reporting and discussion. You will learn standards of excellence for writing and researching an article and how to retain truth, accuracy and fairness in your reporting. Sports today reflect a diverse landscape of viewpoints and cultural issues related to race and gender, which a sports journalist must be able to handle correctly in real time.

The best programs will also teach you broadcasting skills from real-time training experiences. You will become acquainted with the latest technologies that will support your effort to produce a podcast, perform on the sidelines during an actual event, and integrate with other press teams and colleagues covering an event. Communication and networking skills will enhance your ability to work with partners in the industry and to develop sources of information for future projects.

What are the average salaries for sports journalist jobs?

Indeed.com, the number one jobsite across the globe, lists compensation and duty profiles for six careers in sports media for those with a sports journalism credential. National average salaries are posted, but the amounts can vary by locality, experience, market exposure and organization. After making exceptions for highly paid individuals in the broadcast field, these averages range from $35,000 to over $52,000 per year for the positions described below:

• Social media manager (average $52,535): Direct contact with fans is the primary mission of this position, whether it is for interesting content, giveaway campaigns or following blog engagements with follow-up comments. After attending home games, content will typically follow that provides coverage of the sports event in detail.

• Sports anchor (average $37,420): Involvement in this capacity will entail delivering news about sports in real time on various distribution channels devoted solely to sports programming. Duties may also include writing a script and interviewing participants in a sporting event onsite.

• Sports broadcaster (average $36,442): Covering an event in a live broadcast and everything that this entails are the responsibilities of a sports broadcaster. Whether it is radio, television or another streaming platform, a sports broadcaster can be more creative when telling their listeners about the play-by-play action. The job involves providing insights, statistics and forecasts, along with conducting interviews with key individuals.

• Sports editor (average $34,268): This role involves journalistic oversight of other writers and reporters who cover the news in sports. This position is an open door to managing other individuals by assigning work and editing their work. Editors can specialize in one area or be generalists.

• Sports photographer (average $42,148): Photographic skills, combined with a keen eye for journalistic requirements, are necessary in this discipline. Creative coverage is the goal, and it is necessary to take insightful photos during the game both on the field and in the stands.

• Sports writer (average $35,198): The main duty of this position is to provide creative and opinionated content for publishing in newspapers and other distribution channels. A writer may cover everything sports related, from the coaches and players down to predictions of potential outcomes of future games.

These jobs are specific to journalism majors, but there are numerous career positions that support their efforts and provide other avenues to pursue. These positions might include directors, producers, broadcast engineers, audiovisual technicians, camera operators, talent coordinators and assistants for each of these vocations.

Summary

If you have always had a love for sports, would you like to follow your passion and build a career in this exciting industry? There is an abundance of job opportunities in sports, and the entire field is expected to grow over the next decade. A graduate degree in sports journalism is the key to opening a door into this arena, and there are several excellent online programs that will allow you to obtain your qualifications at your own pace and at your own convenience.

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