It's been a few months since I've written anything sports related, but it'll always have a place in my heart. If you are a lover of sport & writing, it's a no brainer to combine the two.
Perhaps you want to start writing about sports, but have no idea where to start? If you are planning to dive into that end of journalism, it's probably a good idea to know what you should and shouldn't do. I'll try to share what I know in this article. Enjoy!
1. You need to choose your sport. It's not recommended to write about a sport that you have no knowledge of. Sports fans are extremely passionate, and will give you an extremely hard time if you have no idea what you're speaking about. Even if you want to cover a sport that you already know a bit about, put some time aside to learn as much as you can about the sport and watch as much footage as possible. Playing the sport takes things a step further, as you discover parts of the game that you may not see otherwise.
2. You need to be passionate about your sport. Being passionate applies to many things, but it's crucial in this circumstance. The best sports writers are very passionate, and are usually quite opinionated. Some writers go as far as being controversial, and this usually causes a stir when rival teams are involved. I try not to go down the controversy route, but that's not to say it's a style that doesn't work. The good news is, you don't have to be extremely opinionated or controversial. You need to be passionate about your sport, have knowledge of the sport and be able to write. Tick those three boxes and you're golden.
3. Observing other sports writers is pretty important. Well, if you want to be a writer you should be observing writers already. This becomes even more important if you plan to become a mainstream sports journalist, as you'd have to consider how the public react to your writing. Some writers are loved within the sports community, whilst others aren't. You should take a look at these writers and consider why they get the feedback that they do. If they get good feedback, you'd have to try to take some of their qualities on board. However, if they're getting a tonne of hate and negativity, they're probably doing something wrong. This does not mean that you shouldn't develop your own unique style of writing, because that is crucial. However observation of other's writers will add something extra to your own.
4. Research. This is key to a successful article. Some writers make the mistake of assuming that they don't need to research the sport or match they're talking about. You can never do enough research, and it's researching the team's previous results, or quotes can add another dimension to your article. This makes the difference between a good piece and a great piece.
5 Do not plagiarize. This seems obvious, but it's something that I can't stress enough. Whilst it's great be inspired by other articles, you must refrain from copying any work that you find. When you are only just coming up, it can be difficult to come up with original ideas, but this comes with experience. You need to be patient, and respect the hard work of others.
6. Communicate with other sports writers! Not only does this improve your writing, but you will meet new people, and discover new things. Other writers can also be honest with you and tell you where you need to improve. When you meet a writer, you'll probably come into contact with their friends at some point too. If those friends are writers, then that's even more contacts for you! If you are looking for job opportunities, having contacts is a no brainer. Which brings me onto my last point…
7. Get some experience! You probably guessed that already, but this is something that is fairly easy within the sports writing community. There are a load of smaller sports websites, who are more than open to taking in amateur writers. Some websites let visitors post articles, all you need to do is fill in a few details. Once you've written for a few websites/magazines then you can aim for websites with a slightly larger following. From there, attempt to get higher and higher on the ladder. You can probably see where I'm going with this. All of the top writers had to start somewhere, so don't feel like you can't apply for some of the smaller stuff to get started.