You’ve seen them on TV and heard them on the radio, providing color commentary, reciting dizzying statistics by memory, narrating the play-by-play of the big game. Sports analysts play a very important role in presenting and explaining sports to modern audiences. As specialized journalists, sportscasters concern themselves with providing factual information, covering press for sporting events and interpreting the action for viewers. Becoming a sports analyst isn’t easy, but with the right experience and dedication you can rise through the ranks of the sports broadcasting industry.
EditGetting an Education and Building Skills
Learn as much as you can about sports. Most sports analysts start off as sports fans. Once you’ve decided to pursue a career as a sportscaster, absorb as much knowledge about sports as you can. Keep up with collegiate as well as professional teams, and follow multiple sports rather than just one or two. A good sports analyst is expected to be like a walking encyclopedia of sports information.
It is not enough to know all about one team, or even one sport. Sports analysts have to possess a thorough knowledge of all the most sports, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, boxing and even Olympic and extreme sports.
Become well-versed in statistics. Start paying close attention to game outcomes, player stats, win-loss records and other statistical information. Commit as much of these facts as you can to memory. Statistics is the language of sports analysis. As an analyst, your job will be to make authoritative assessments and predictions based on statistical models.
There is far more use of mathematical principles in sports analysis than most people realize. Taking a formal statistics course or two will help further your understanding of how these principles come into play.
Earn an undergraduate degree in a related field. Go to school and work towards a degree in journalism, communications or broadcasting. While it’s not strictly necessary to have one of these degrees in order to land a job in sports journalism, most employers prefer that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Online programs are also available for those who are unable to attend university classes.
Holding a degree, along with the right experience, can give you an advantage over those without an education when it comes to getting hired.
Many online programs can be completed in less time than a full term at a university, and include all the most relevant courses, such as news reporting, media ethics, sports psychology and broadcasting.
Consider going for a graduate degree. Once you’ve earned an undergraduate degree, think about channeling your efforts into a post-graduate master’s or doctorate level certification. Many graduate programs include courses that focus more specifically on sports analytics and broadcasting, meaning you’ll be getting an education in your chosen field of expertise. These credentials will be very impressive to potential employers.
A graduate degree will require you to significantly narrow your area of focus, which may not help you get your first job but can make you a commodity for special positions later on.
Play a sport. If you have the opportunity, think about trying out for a sports team. Having a practical knowledge of the sports you’ll be reporting on can be a major plus. Becoming an athlete will give you a chance to work closely with other players, coaches, recruiters and journalists, and afford you a behind-the-scenes look into the workings of the industry.
If you’re not a student and don’t have the option of trying out for a school team, look into joining a community league in your area.
Quite a few well-known sportscasters got their start as players rather than educated journalists.
Hone your communication skills. Start writing out your thoughts and analyses of sporting events for practice. A substantial amount of the expert opinions offered by sports analysts are written down in the form of blurbs, editorials and written interviews. You should also work on polishing your verbal skills and becoming comfortable talking to people to prepare for conducting interviews and appearing on radio or television.
A lot of writing goes into sports reporting, even if you’re working in broadcasting. The better you’re able to write, the better you’ll be at doing your job.
Devise a system for interviewing players, coaches and other personnel. Know how to make the best use of a short interview segment, and which questions to ask to receive the information you’re after.
Make industry connections. Attend sporting events regularly and meet as many industry professionals as you can. See if you can take up a minute of the coach’s time, or ask a sports reporter or even a camera technician how they broke into the business. Give your name to everyone you meet and let them know that you’re interested in getting started as a sportscaster. This way, they’ll remember you once it comes time to put your networking to use.
Don’t be shy about asking for advice. Most sports reporters are very comfortable talking to people and will be happy to share the secrets of their success with you.
Look for a job in sports journalism or broadcasting. When you feel prepared, start seeking out jobs in sports journalism. You may have to smart small initially, working for community newspapers or an independent local television station. There, you will find expression for your love of sports while learning the ins and outs of the business. Begin compiling copies of the articles you write and any tapings you appear on to have a portfolio to show to more prestigious employers in the future.
Don’t be discouraged if you have trouble landing a job at first. Sports analytics is one of the most competitive professions in the nation, and the market is constantly saturated with hopefuls. However, this also means that the demand for hardworking people is very high.
No one begins their career with one of the major sports news networks like ESPN. In all likelihood, working your way up will require you to travel and even move to new cities to work for different press agencies and gather the experience needed to make you an asset to the bigger companies.
EditReaching a Professional Level
Provide credible information. Like any journalist, the mission of a sports analyst should be to provide the public with factual, reliable information. Take care to research facts carefully and represent them faithfully in your write-ups. Call upon your statistical proficiency to produce accurate figures and predictions, and share your own insights whenever you have the chance. Sports fans will be counting on you to provide them with reports that they can count on.
Always verify a piece of information before you relay it to the public.
Aim to construct a network of dependable sources that will give you an inside line on developing updates.
Get comfortable being on the radio or TV. While some sports analysts are confined to offices researching and writing reports, others will find themselves presenting these reports to the masses on the air. If you intend to advance into broadcast journalism, you’ll need to cultivate a distinct professional demeanor and be at ease working in front of the cameras. Learn to think on your feet and stay poised and you’ll quickly get over the nerves of appearing in broadcasts.
Talking for the radio or TV cameras can be intimidating, but will become easier the more you do it.
It may also be a good idea to know how to work with teleprompters, research databases, word processing programs and other technology utilized by professionals.
Be able to meet strict deadlines. As a sports analyst, you will be expected to have prediction models, written columns and other materials prepared under strict time constraints. Get in the habit of starting projects right away and taking an organized approach to data collection and analysis. It’s important that you be able to work briskly and efficiently under pressure and meet a consistent quota.
Your daily workload as a sports journalist will vary depending on where you work and what your exact job description is, but will more often than not include extensive paperwork that has to be submitted in a timely manner in order to support the information included in broadcasts.
Stay up-to-date on sports news and results. Keep watching sports and following the action of different teams, leagues and events. Even if you’re not observing from the press box, you should do your best to stay current on major developments in the sports world such as game results, player trades and injuries and team personnel changes. Your reputation depends on your ability to keep up with all types of sports-related information at once. Luckily, this is the most rewarding part of working as a sports analyst—getting paid to immerse yourself in what you’re most passionate about.
In addition to your own research, you should know where to turn for credible, up-to-the-minute sports reporting. Follow the major news outlets like SportsCenter and ESPN to catch the big stories as they unfold.
Make use of your professional sources for exclusive inside information.
If the job market for traditional sports reporting is oversaturated in your area, try looking for jobs with online publications and sponsored blogs. These can make a great platform for launching your career.
Read books and listen to interviews with famous sportscasters to find out more about how they got their start.
Rather than approaching your new career as an eager fan, you should learn to think like a coach. Becoming a successful sports analyst is not just about reporting facts but knowing what factors need to be in place to win games and make a team great.
Be willing to learn and continue honing your craft, even after you’ve done it for years. Your goal should be to constantly refine your expertise and the ways you’re able to relate it.
Working hours may be very long and arduous with demanding deadlines in the midst of different sports seasons.
Become a Sports Journalist
EditSources and Citations
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