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Sports Writer Job Description, Career as a Sports Writer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $49,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Fair

Job Description

A sports writer works to cover a particular sports team, type of sports, or niche within the sporting world. The majority of their time is spent writing, but there is much more to the job than this. It is essential that a sports writer have a strong writing ability, but they must also have a keen understanding of the sports that they cover. This may often involve a great deal of research and keeping up with current events.
A sports writer not only has to attend sporting events to keep current with what is going on, but they must also meet with clients or team members as well. Depending on the nature of their specific job, they may expect to attend staff meetings on a regular basis. They must meet with the client or company that they are responsible for writing for and be sure that they clearly understand the requirements. They must meet with them regularly to ensure that all materials are turned in by deadline.
A sports writer can also benefit by working to develop relationships with the team members or sports figures directly. Not only will this help them to gain insight into their roles, but it will help them to get the stories first and factually. This is an important part of the role, as is the need for networking with others in their field. Relationship building can prove to be a rather important part of the job, almost as much as the writing itself.
Sports writers must have the ability to cover the sporting events and teams directly. They must be able to convey factual information, but also put a slant on things that makes their content unique. They must keep current with the rules of the game as well as what’s going on with the players. They may have some controversial content at times, but if they do their job well they may develop a loyal following. It’s important for a sports writer to keep current with their knowledge in their given area, as well as keep their writing skills sharp.

Education and Training Requirements

Though it is usually expected that a sports writer has a college degree, this is not necessarily a requirement. Any education or training within journalism may help a sports writer to obtain a position, but it’s not necessarily a requirement to get the job or keep up with it. Demonstrating a strong writing ability as well as an understanding of sports directly is what is required in this type of writing position. Particularly if an individual works as a freelance sports writer, education may not even factor into their ability to get the job. Much of the training may come on the job in terms of guidelines and the ability to meet deadlines sufficiently. However any background or education can be quite helpful in getting started. Keeping up with new writing trends or styles can be helpful, and some of the training may come throughout the career of a sports writer.

Getting the Job

The competition for a sports writer position is high. Many people that are either interested in sports or who have a writing ability may demonstrate interest in such a position, so it’s important to be able to stand out from the crowd. It’s important that to initially get a job as a sports writer, that an individual demonstrate their writing ability and sports knowledge through a portfolio or previous experience. Having an education within journalism or working as part of a sports organization can be instrumental in getting the job as well. Anything that an individual can do to stand out from the rest of the interested candidates will help them to get the job, and personality and interest may play a role in that as well.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Though there is a need for sports writers, it is not necessarily a job that is in high demand. That may be attributed to high competition and a growing number of freelance writers who can handle the job on a contract basis. Though companies, publications, and sports teams always have a need for sports writers, they may turn to contract or freelance writers for an easy fix. They may also have many interested candidates or people within the organization that can fall into that role. Though there is demand, there may be great competition to land the job.

Working Conditions and Environment

A sports writer usually has an office or a desk, either at their company directly or at a home office. They may expect to write many of their stories from there, but then may expect to travel a great deal. Sports writers often travel with the teams that they cover, and therefore may expect to be on the road quite a bit. This may be a stressful job, particularly when working up against a tight deadline. Though this does allow an individual to write on a subject that they love, the stress and the travel may be challenging at times. They may find the relationships a lot of hard work too in dealing with sports figures.

Salary and Benefits

Though the typical annual salary for a sports writer is around $49,000, it really depends on the nature of their work assignment. If they work on a contract or freelance basis, they can usually expect to receive more. They may receive compensation per article or on a specific writing assignment basis. A sports writer who works for a sports team directly or as part of a publication may expect to receive an even wider range of compensation. If they do work as part of an organization or team, they can expect to receive rather generous benefits including paid vacation and sick days, health benefits, retirement account, and perhaps even more. If they work on a contract or freelance basis, then they are often responsible for their own benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

National Sportscasters’ and Sportswriters’ Association
PO Box 1545
Salisbury, NC 28145

Sports Journalists’ Association (for British sports journalists)
c/o Start2Finish Event Management
Unit 92, Capital Business Centre
22 Carlton Road

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts