Job scope & Career opportunities sports journalist


With sports journalism fast gaining popularity with the youth Sports journalism is a form of journalism that reports on sports topics and events. Sport reporting is always a major section in newspapers, magazines, on television and radio. While it may be considered frivolous by the news desk, sports coverage has grown in importance as sport has grown in wealth, power and influence. Sports reporting involves going to sports games or sporting events and venues, mixing with the players or competitors, then reporting it to an audience who want to know what happened on the field/ court and also behind the scenes or in the locker room. You would have to conduct interviews, prepare features, write match reviews and submit your work to editors.
As with reporters on other news beats, sports journalism involves investigating the story, rather than simply relying on press releases and prepared statements from the sports team, coach, or players. Sports journalists are expected to verify facts given to them by the athletes, sports commentators, or organisations they are covering. The pressure of deadlines is high as sporting events, especially in the era of day-night matches or international sports events tend to occur late in the day and closer to the deadlines many newspapers must observe. They are to uphold the same professional and ethical standards and take care not to show bias for any team.
Sports journalism is highly specialised and requires specialist knowledge, but the disciplines and practices employed by a sports journalist do not differ greatly from those of a standard journalist. There is lots to write about - tennis, skiing, hockey, football, volleyball, basketball, swimming, cricket, badminton, golf, cycling- state/ district/ national and international level tournaments/ events to be covered. Cricket, because of its huge popularity in India, has regularly attracted the most writers and been given more space and importance than any other sport.
Sport journalism is a multi-skilled vocation requiring professionals who can communicate with a diverse audience across a range of media. Sports journalists write and edit sports stories, features and reviews for newspapers, magazines and for radio or television. They have to undertake research to provide background information for articles, assess the suitability of reports and articles for publication or broadcasting, within an established style and format, and edit as necessary.
Suitability: Journalists must possess powers of self-expression, observation, accuracy, patience and tact. They should be resourceful, willing to travel and to work under pressure and irregular hours. Stamina is required, as is confidence, great curiosity and the ability to put people at ease. Strong word processing and internet research skills are also important. You should enjoy writing, be good at both spoken and written communication, enjoy meeting people, and enjoy playing or watching sports.
Education and training: The Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education, Gwalior is among the few institutions/universities offering a one-year programme in sports journalism. The programme covers fundamentals of journalism and sports journalism, reporting and editing, fundamentals of physical education and sports, communication skills, fundaments of games and sports, IT fundamentals and MS Office and project writing. Specific or specialised programmes in sports journalism are not common, but sports journalism or sports writing is taught in some journalism schools as a specialisation/ elective/ project in a regular journalism programme.
Admission process: LNUPE offers the PG Diploma in Sports Journalism to candidates with a Bachelor of Physical Education or a postgraduate degree/ diploma in physical education of at least one year duration or a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Selection is through a test of two hours duration of 100 marks. 20 marks each are allotted to question on sports general awareness, general awareness and current affairs, reasoning, writing skills and translation ability and another 20 marks for group discussion/ personal interview. There is weightage for sports achievements at different levels.
Prospects: Traditionally sports journalists were drawn from the ranks of news reporters who expressed an interest in reporting sport. This is still a viable route for sports journalists, with many well known sports journalists working first as a news reporter before getting their first big break in sports reporting by standing in for a sports reporter who was unable to attend a big event. Sports columnists/ broadcasters may be retired sports persons who possess the right skills for the media.
Career opportunities include freelance sports journalist, sports writer, match reporter and sports columnist. You could be working in a newspaper or a magazine, on television, internet, sports management or a public relations consultancy. Sports journalism includes publications like Sportstar Weekly, and television channels devoted entirely to sports reporting and television networks such as ESPN India, Star Sports, Zee Sports, DD Sports, Ten Sports, NEO Cricket, NEO Sports, Star Cricket, etc. Sports journalists could also get involved in writing, producing popular books on a range of sporting topics, including biographies, history and investigations.
(Writer is a Retired Principal & Educationist. Views expressed are personal)

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