Tips for how to become a successful sportswriter



Column by Brandon Stephens. Email [email protected].

You could have had class, you could have been a contender, you could have been somebody … but instead, you’re an unknown sportswriter.

I know this from experience, because I’m an unknown sportswriter myself. I’ve always wanted to be a sportswriter. Sports have been a part of my life for as long as I have been alive, and I’m hopeful that I can use this familiarity to become more than just a face in the crowd. I totally understand how you’d feel about your lack of success.

Now, can this anonymity be remedied? Of course it can! It will take hard work, determination and perseverance on your part, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can be a successful sportswriter.

So, how do you go about being successful at such a task?

Well, I asked the writers themselves for helpful hints on how to be good at sportswriting. Three tips could be especially helpful for all of us aspiring sports journalists: be involved, be observant, and be ready for anything.

First, you must get your name out there for the world to see. “Experience is the best asset,” says David Schuh, softball writer for the Kernel. “Think about it; if two sports journalism students graduate, and one has a 3.9 GPA and no writing but the other has a 3.4 GPA with really good, published work, who will the employer prefer? They’ll want the student who has experience and is proven in the field. The more you’re involved, the better off you are.”

Second, you must be observant beyond simply watching the game and you must look for more significance within the games. Aaron Smith, managing editor and Kentucky Wildcat basketball beat writer for the Kernel, says that you need to look for “the significance of a particular statistic or a particular shot,” but he is quick to note that this is not an easy task. “It takes a lot of work and insight to try to get fans a deeper level of understanding, which is what they want,” Smith said.

Finally, you must take any opportunity that you can get as an aspiring sportswriter. Ethan Levine will be the full-time head sports editor of the Kentucky Kernel next year, but it took hard work and a lot of smaller jobs to get to that point.

“When I began at the Kernel, I was asked to write on men’s tennis,” Levine says. “And I won’t lie, it really sucked.” But Levine worked with enthusiasm on his task and found himself moving up into the bigger sports before taking on baseball this spring. Now, he’s looking at becoming the head sports editor and football beat writer of the Kernel.

“Take any opportunity, no matter how small, to show what you can do and to get yourself into the sportswriting field,” Levine says.