Education and Training Requirements
Classes in English, journalism, and speech are most important for honing writing skills. Speech classes are helpful for interacting with others. Be sure to take physical education classes and participate in organized sports, whether as competitor, team manager, or assistant. Also join the school paper or yearbook staff as this gives opportunities to cover and write about school sports teams or other school activities.
Sportswriters need at least a bachelor's degree, although many go on to study journalism at the graduate level. Most sportswriters concentrate on journalism while in college, either by attending a program in journalism or by taking whatever courses are available outside of a specialized program. It's possible to become a sportswriter without a degree in journalism, but having a degree helps because competition for sportswriting jobs is incredibly fierce. Sportswriters with a specialized degree have improved job prospects. Some may have degrees in communications or English, among other majors.
Learning HTML, a Web site authoring language, can also be helpful to sportswriters who write for the Web, and this skill may qualify you for other writing opportunities. All writers should learn the most popular software programs and office tools that relate to their specialty. Social media savvy is also required for many sportswriting jobs.
Other Education or Training
A variety of webinars, conference seminars, digital journalism training sessions, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by various professional associations such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Associated Press Sports Editors, Association for Women in Sports Media, MPA–The Association of Magazine Media, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Topics include writing, editing, interviewing, social media, and technology.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are no specific certification or licensing requirements for sportswriters.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Any volunteer or paid experience as a writer will be useful for those who aspire to enter the field. Contact community organizations, religious groups, or local businesses, and other organizations that require the skills of writers. Work as a sports reporter for your high school and college newspaper.
The ability to write well and concisely is a key requirement for the job of the sportswriter. Writers must also have a solid understanding of the rules and play of many different sports. To specialize in the coverage of one particular sport, knowledge of that sport must be equal to that of anyone coaching or playing it at the professional level.
Sportswriters must be able to elicit information from a variety of sources, as well as to determine when information being leaked is closer to promotional spin than to fact. There will be more times when a coach or agent will not want to comment on a story than the times when they will want to make an on-the-record comment, so the sportswriter must be assertive in pressing the source for more information.