You have undoubtedly seen them on television and heard them on the radio performing tasks such as making comments of all kinds, reciting dizzying statistics from memory and narrating the great game play by play. Sports analysts play a very important role in presenting and explaining sports to modern audiences. As specialized journalists, sports commentators are concerned with providing objective information, covering the press of sporting events, and interpreting the action for viewers. Becoming a sports analyst is not easy; however, with the right experience and dedication, you can rise through the ranks of the sports broadcasting industry.
Part 1 of 3: Educate Yourself and Build Skills
Step 1. Learn as much as you can about sports
Most sports analysts start out as sports fans. Once you've decided to pursue a career as a sportscaster, absorb as much sports knowledge as you can. Stay up-to-date with college and professional teams, and follow multiple sports instead of just one or two. A good sports analyst is expected to be like a walking encyclopedia of sports information.
It is not enough to know everything about a team, not even about a sport. Sports analysts must have in-depth knowledge of most sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, American football, hockey, golf, boxing, and even Olympic and extreme sports
Step 2. Become an expert in statistics
Start paying attention to game results, player statistics, win-loss records, and other statistical information. Commit to memorizing as much data as possible. Statistics is the language of sports analysis. Thus, as an analyst, your job will be to make authoritative assessments and predictions based on statistical models.
In sports analysis, there is much more use of mathematical principles than most people realize. Taking a formal statistics course or two will help you better understand how these principles come into play
Step 3. Obtain a college degree in a related field
Go to school and work towards a degree in journalism, communication, or broadcasting. While it is not strictly necessary to have one of these degrees to get a job in sports journalism, most employers prefer applicants to have a college degree or higher. There are also online programs available for those unable to attend college classes.
- Having a degree, coupled with the right experience, can give you an edge over those who are uneducated at the time of hire.
- There are many online programs that you can complete in less time than a full term at a university, and they include the most relevant courses, such as news reporting, media ethics, sports psychology, and broadcasting.
Step 4. Consider getting a graduate degree
Once you've earned a college degree, consider channeling your efforts toward graduate certification at the master's or doctoral level. Many graduate programs include courses that focus more specifically on sports analytics and broadcasting, which means that you will be educated in your chosen field of expertise. These credentials will be very impressive to potential employers.
A graduate degree will require you to significantly limit your area of focus, which may not help you land your first job; however, it may turn you into a specialty job product later on
Part 2 of 3: Get Experience
Step 1. Play a sport
If you get the chance, consider practicing with a sports team. Having a working knowledge of the sports you will report on can be a major advantage. Becoming an athlete will give you the opportunity to work closely with other players, coaches, recruiters, and journalists, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the industry works.
- If you are not a student and do not have the option to practice with a school team, look into the possibility of joining a community league in your area.
- Many well-known sportscasters started out as gamers and not as educated journalists.
Step 2. Hone your communication skills
Start writing down your thoughts and analysis of sporting events as a way to practice. A large part of the opinions of sports analysts are written in the form of drafts, editorials and written interviews. You should also strive to hone your verbal skills and feel comfortable talking to people in order to prepare for interviews and to appear on radio or television.
- In sports, you write a lot, even if you work in broadcasting. The better you are at writing, the better you will do your job.
- Create a system for interviewing players, coaches, and other staff. Learn how to get the most out of a short interview segment and what questions to ask to get the information you're looking for.
Step 3. Make connections in the industry
Attend sporting events regularly and meet as many industry professionals as you can. Determine if you can spend 1 minute with the coach or ask a sports reporter or even a camera technician how he got into business. Give your name to everyone you meet and let them know that you are interested in starting as a sportscaster. In this way, they will remind you when it is time to use your network of contacts.
Don't be shy about asking for advice. Most sports reporters are very comfortable talking to people and will be happy to share the secrets of their success with you
Step 4. Look for a job in sports journalism or broadcasting
Once you feel ready, start looking for work in sports journalism. You may need to be practical at first and work on something small, such as community newspapers or a local independent television station. There you will find the expression of your love for sports while learning the ins and outs of the business. Start collecting copies of the articles you write and the recordings in which you appear in order to have a portfolio that you can show to more prestigious employers in the future.
- Don't be discouraged if you have trouble getting a job at first. Sports analytics is one of the most competitive professions in the country and the market is constantly saturated with applicants. However, this also means that the demand for workers is very high.
- Nobody starts their career with a major sports news network like ESPN. Most likely, to move up the career ladder you will have to travel and even move to new cities in order to work in different news agencies and gather the necessary experience to become an asset to large companies.
Part 3 of 3: Reaching a Professional Level
Step 1. Provide credible information
Like any journalist, the mission of a sports analyst should be to provide factual and reliable information to the public. Be careful to investigate the facts carefully and represent them faithfully in your written texts. Use your statistical aptitude to produce accurate figures and predictions, and share your own views whenever you get the chance. Sports fans will be counting on you to provide reports they can count on.
- Always verify information before transmitting it to the public.
- Try to build a network of trusted sources that provide you with an internal hotline to develop updates.
Step 2. Get comfortable being on the radio or television
While some sports analysts are confined to offices, researching and writing reports, others will have to air such reports to the masses. If you intend to advance in broadcast journalism, you will need to cultivate a distinctive professional demeanor and feel comfortable working in front of the cameras. Learn to think fast and stay calm and you will quickly overcome the nerves of showing up on transmissions.
- Speaking for radios or television cameras can be intimidating; however, it will get easier the more you do it.
- It might also be a good idea to know how to work with telepronters, research databases, word processing programs, and other technologies used by professionals.
Step 3. Be able to meet strict deadlines
As a sports analyst, you are expected to have prediction models, written columns, and other materials prepared under strict time constraints. Get in the habit of starting projects right away and taking an organized approach to data collection and analysis. It is important that you can work quickly and efficiently under pressure and meet a constant quota.
Your daily workload as a sports journalist will vary depending on where you work and the exact description of your job; however, most of the time it will include extensive documents that you will need to submit in a timely manner to support the information included in the broadcasts
Step 4. Stay up to date with sports news and scores
Watch sports and follow the action of different teams, leagues and events. Even if you are not watching from the press booth, you should do your best to stay up-to-date on major events in the world of sport, such as match results, player changes and injuries, and team personnel changes. Your reputation will depend on your ability to keep up with all kinds of sports related information. Fortunately, this is the most rewarding part of working as a sports analyst, as you will be paid to immerse yourself in what you are most passionate about.
- In addition to doing your own research, you should know where to go for credible and up-to-date sports information. Follow major news outlets (eg ESPN and SportsCenter) for the big stories as they unfold.
- Use your professional sources to get exclusive inside information.
- If the traditional sports report job market in your area is oversaturated, try looking for jobs in online publications and sponsored blogs. They can be an excellent platform to launch your career.
- Read books and listen to interviews with famous sportscasters to learn more about how they got started.
- Instead of approaching your new career as an avid fan, you should learn to think like a coach. Becoming a successful sports analyst is not just about reporting data, but also knowing what factors need to be in order to win games and make a great team.
- Be willing to learn and keep honing your craft, even after years of doing it. Your goal should be to constantly refine your experience and the ways you can tell it.