What It Really Takes To Get Into Sports Broadcasting

sports broadcasting“He could…go…all…the…way!”  That is just one of the many famous quotes from long-time sports broadcaster Chris Berman.  It’s easy to turn on the television and dream that you will someday work in the sports broadcasting industry, but that career path is anything but simple.  Knowing a lot about sports and talking about it on a daily basis is a good start.  However, you will most likely need to get a degree, work a lot of smaller jobs, and network as much as possible.

Job Description

What does a sports broadcaster do exactly?  It depends on their specific job, but generally their job is to either describe the action taking place in a sports game, or to give their opinion on a particular sports topic.  Since they are speaking to a large audience, they need to possess great speaking and communication skills, as well as professionalism and knowledge in sports. For a more thorough understanding, take a look at this course on sports broadcasting as it breaks down exactly what the job entails, the philosophy of the industry as a whole, and what you’ll need to become a broadcaster.

Sports Broadcasting Jobs

The sports broadcasting industry has been growing consistently for a while now, mostly due to the increasing popularity of sports.  This means more and more new jobs are opening and new positions are being created.  Before sports talk radio and cable channels such as The NFL Network and Fox Sports were around, finding a job within sports broadcasting was very limited.  Nowadays, it’s hard to browse through the channels without seeing some sort of sports game or show on television.

Here’s a list of some of the different types of jobs that are out there within the industry:

  • Anchors
  • Analysts
  • Talk Radio
  • Commentator
  • Sports Talk Show Host
  • Sideline Reporters
  • Press Box Announcer
  • Play By Play Announcer

What Does It Take?

While there are no specific requirements to getting a job in sports broadcasting, there is a general path that most people take to make themselves an attractive asset for companies.  There is one quality that you should possess though in order to land your dream job.  Be passionate about sports!  And just because you enjoy watching football, that isn’t going to be enough.  You should be knowledgeable in all sports to increase your chances in landing a job.  If you are only proficient in one or two sports, you are like a professional dancer who only knows how to tango.

Many sports broadcasters have a bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcasting, or a field similar to those.  Having a degree with one of those majors equips you with the skills and knowledge that is needed to succeed in that occupation.  Some of the courses you will be taking include broadcast journalism, mass media, audio production and media writing.  For this reason, it is important that you have a general idea of what type of job you want to pursue when you are finished with school, whether that be a commentator, analyst, talk show host, etc.  This will make your decisions easier when trying to figure out which type of courses to take.

While in college, it would be even more beneficial if you gained some experience within the industry by being an intern or a part-time worker for a sports radio or television station.  Even if it’s an unpaid internship, it could pay off in the future when you are applying for jobs after you graduate.  Anything that you can put on your resume that shows you are committed and dedicated to your career path is a step in the right direction.

Once you obtain your college degree, you have the choice of either applying for jobs or going back to school to pursue your broadcasting education.  If you decide on broadcasting school, be prepared to pay a lot of money since most of the schools are privately owned.  Most of them are only located in major cities as well, so you may need to relocate if this applies to you.  They are known for providing students with an internship with local stations, however, they won’t guarantee you a job when you graduate.

Going with the other route, applying for jobs straight out of college, seems to be the more traditional path for aspiring broadcasters.  You probably won’t land a job as a sports anchor for ESPN, but being hired as just an assistant or the equipment manager is still a foot in the door.  A lot of successful broadcasters will say that they started off from the bottom of the food chain, and slowly worked their way up to being in the spotlights of the camera.  It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, patience, and networking.

When you are able to land some sort of job within the sports broadcasting industry, you are already ahead of most of your competition.  But to make it to your ultimate goal, you will need to build a solid network.  Watch and learn from the broadcaster whom you admire, and take good notes.  Speak with colleagues and get your name out there so people know who you are.  It isn’t always about what you know, but who you know.  This is the time when you need to be assertive and motivated, because more than likely you are going to have to work for what you want.

Make yourself even more marketable by creating demos of yourself broadcasting sports news are games.  Or go above and beyond by making your own podcast.  This will help demonstrate that you have the communication skills and knowledge that comes with working in sports broadcasting.

Remember, there are a lot of different paths you can take, so don’t feel obligated to stick with just one.  Think strategically about each opportunity that is presented to you, and make the most of them.  Who knows, maybe it will be you who I see the next time I turn on Sportscenter!