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Following a Career in Sports Journalism

Following a Career in Sports JournalismFollowing a Career in Sports Journalism

If you are passionate about sports and want to be at the cutting edge, you could consider a career in sports journalism. Not only is there a fascinating array of career opportunities, but new media are gradually replacing the traditional media most people have become familiar with. At the same time, there are hot topics in sports that are being debated and you can get in on the ground level. Below is a full outline of everything you need to know about sports journalism in the modern world.

What Does a Career in Sports Journalism Entail?

Sports journalism is an exciting career with a lot of scope. While you may start with reporting on amateur events such as school sports, the opportunity extends to reporting on sports at the professional level. 

Sports journalists work in a selection of media with several possible duties. Media includes print, radio, and television. The tasks you may be required to perform are providing game commentary, interviewing players and coaches, supplying previews of upcoming events, post-game analysis, and delivering game statistics. As a sports photojournalist, you would take photos of games and players. You will probably start in an entry-level position working for a local or state media outlet. However, many jobs are available nationally and internationally. There is a lot of travel involved and you will usually be on location as opposed to stuck in an office. Weekend, night, and holiday working hours are likely, and you will have a deadline to follow.

Modern sports journalists should not only be competent in traditional news reporting media (print, radio, and television) but also in an extensive diversity of digital skills, such as podcasts, social media storytelling, and mobile experiences to stay ahead of the competition in this fast-moving, contemporary milieu. The standards to follow are, as always and regardless of media, truth, accuracy, fairness, and diversity.

The average salary in 2020 was $49,300 per annum. While job opportunities are expected to decline by 11% between 2019 and 2029, due to an overall decreased trend in the economy limiting advertising revenue, there is still room for the aspiring sports journalist. Further on in the article, you will find new areas that sports are expanding into that provide more challenges for the ambitious sports journalist. 

At the minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ideally, you should also obtain a post-secondary qualification in journalism. An example of such a degree for a sports journalist is a master of arts in sports journalism. This will take approximately a year and a half and can be completed online. The post-secondary degree will hold your interest, with the opportunity to perform a major research project on your own in an area of interest. Be sure to take communication as one of your bachelor subjects as this skill is a core job requirement. 

Changes Taking Place in Sports Journalism

The mounting availability of the internet has generated more direct connections between sports journalists and sports fans. There is a growing need for instant and constant updates and reports plus interesting news items on sports and players. The up-and-coming sports journalist of the modern world and going forward has to be able to provide fans with cutting-edge information ahead of the competition. The focus is on providing sports news that is exceptional, exclusive, and unique. It has to stand out above the general mill of information being provided. This is the number one tip for the new sports journalist.

Social media and technological advances have changed the face of the game from seasonal matches to a constant thirst for something new. Human interest stories are very desirable, and fans want to know everything about the game and the players. Blogs started to play an increasing role in sports reporting from the start of the 21st century and podcasts have become a popular medium. These consist of digital audio files that can be accessed via the internet and downloaded either to a PC or mobile device. 

Usually, they are provided in a series of episodes where subscribers can be notified when new installments are available or have them downloaded automatically. They can be listened to on a computer or iPod. Twitter posts have also become an important means of staying in touch with sporting interests. Thus, these forms of media present new opportunities for the freelancing sports journalist who is keeping pace with the trends, what the fans want, and how they want to receive it. This can increase your exposure even while you work in a more traditional field of sports journalism.

Sports players have become icons and role models and fans are interested in hearing their views, especially on social issues.  A primary example of this was demonstrated by AFL footballer, Bachar Houli, who is also a Muslim. In his public role-model position, he interacted with the greater Islamic community to inspire its children to play sports and aim for a professional career. This also involved him setting up a football competition for Muslim schools which drew in hundreds of teenagers. Stories like this are very topical for sports fans and it is up to the sports journalist to report on them through suitable channels. Sports fans want sports news off-season as well!

Another trend to watch is the increasing role of e-sports. This is set to become as big as traditional sports and offers up a new area for the enterprising sports journalist.

The Hottest Topic in Sports

If you are not familiar with the term sustainability, you have surely heard of the ‘Go Green’ movement. It has also been referred to as the 3Ps: profit, people, and the planet, or in other words, the economy, society, and the environment. This topic is concerned with how humanity depletes the natural resources of the earth and needs to reduce its carbon imprint. It is also frequently referred to as conserving and protecting these resources for future generations. Another aspect that is often mentioned is the need to provide a balance between these goals and the continuation of the modern way of life, such as sports, shopping centers, electricity, and technology.

Many sports venues have taken the sustainability message to heart and have done their part to preserve our natural resources by building or revamping their structures. The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) in the US has sponsored the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Yankees, and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to upgrade their facilities for sustainability. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC’s) Sports for Climate Action Framework has five sustainability principles which have been adopted by, among others, the Yankees, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Minnesota Wild. 

Here are some of the initiatives that have been taken to impact sustainability in sports from around the world. 

The Amsterdam ArenA (used by the football club Ajax) has installed 4,200 solar panels and a wind turbine. They also use rainwater from the stadium roof for watering the field. Energy is stored from the second-life batteries of used electric vehicles. There are free charging points for fans with electric cars. 

The Mercedes-Benz building, used by Atlanta Falcons for the US National Football League (NFL) and by United FC and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) has erected 4,000 solar panels. The site consumes 47% less water than the average stadium due to its stormwater management system. 

Levi’s Stadium (used by the San Francisco 49ers) boasts 27,000 square feet of green roofing, in addition to its 1,000 solar panels, and over 85% of its purchases for cleaning materials and products meet green criteria. 

The Golden 1 Center comes out in the top 3% of sustainable buildings in the world as per the Green Project Management (GPM), an international global organization that promotes sustainability. It is home to the Sacramento Kings, who actively involve fans in discussions on climate sustainability. The Center diverted almost all of its construction waste from landfills, recycled most of its demolition materials, and is fully dependent on solar power. 

Solar power transforms sun energy into cool air which has been shown to keep the inside of a stadium at 73°F inside when outside temperatures have soared to 111°F. This technology will be utilized for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

So, if you are considering a career in sports journalism, you can see that the field has undergone many changes, with more advances very likely for the future. It is a dynamic arena for budding sports journalists. If you are a sports fan and keen to enter journalism, a fascinating career lies ahead of you. There are new technologies and media to conquer, far greater scope for working all-year-round, and the chance to put your opinion across in a range of interesting topics. With subjects as diverse as sustainability, sports icons and their social messages to fans, and the emerging area of e-sports, sports journalism is the way to go. Is it the path for you?

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