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Getting Into Sports Writing

Published: Wednesday 3rd June 2015

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A successful career in sports writing requires little formal education and training. What is does require is a passion for and knowledge of sport in general and potentially a deep knowledge of a specific sport. If you are considering a career as a sports writer you also need strong writing skills and the ability to communicate information clearly and effectively. Whilst having either a degree or formal qualifications is not a necessity, what is often taken into account is having experience writing articles, blog posts or content which display your ability to write about sport.

What is a sports writer?

Sports writers fall into three main camps, journalists, writers and bloggers. Journalists typically work either as a freelancer for multiple publications or a single news outlet. They are concerned with reporting the facts of a story. Sports writers might work for a website or magazine. They will produce engaging and informative content but where as a journalist doesn’t often give personal opinion a sports writer does. Finally bloggers may be employed by websites, news outlets or run their own blog. 

Some sports writers will spend their career writing about a single sport, common with high profile sports such as football, whilst others will write about a variety of sports during their career. 

What does a sports writer do?

Sports writers produce and write effective, engaging and informative content for sports fans. They do this by effectively researching current events, making contacts in sporting teams and institutions to get the ‘inside scoop’ and travel to games and competitions to see matches in person. 

Sports writers have to produce content which looks at a story or event in depth and offers a detailed analysis of why a match was won or lost, why the outcome occurred. In order to keep people reading, sports writers must give something extra, something which TV journalism cannot give in its more limited time and detail. 

Whilst journalists will have more specific editorial guidelines as to content, length of articles and deadlines writers and bloggers, generally, have more freedom over what they produce. As with any content production, sports writing is a highly competitive field in which authors are constantly competing to get readers attention and to secure stories, information or angles which others writers cannot secure. 

What are the different types of sports writer?

In addition to the main types of sports writing jobs available, many sports teams will employ in-house writers to work on articles, content and reports for their own publications; such as team magazines and websites. 

Other avenues for sports writing include content writing for marketing and promotional activity in sport. As a huge industry (worth £20.3bn to the economy of England in 2010) sport is actively engaged in heavy marketing and promotional activities and as such there are a range of jobs in marketing sporting events. 

How do you become a sports writer?

There are no formal avenues into becoming a sports writer, journalist or blogger; although in some cases a degree in journalism can help.  Often more important than formal qualifications is the ability to show potential employer examples of your writing work. 

Magazines, newspapers and larger websites can offer programs for budding writers which can help those looking to find jobs in sports writing. The industry also offers a variety of apprenticeships, work experience and internships which can help budding writers to build work experience and a portfolio of articles which they can use to secure a future job. Other avenues to build a portfolio include starting your own sports or another blog. Blogging allows you to develop your skills as a writer, build a portfolio of work and potentially even a following of readers. 

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