So you want to be a sports writer? Lessons from my first night as an official member of the sports media.

I hate to burst your bubble – but most jobs in the sports industry are just not for sports fans. People everywhere think they are made for the sports industry because they are able to name off Super Bowl winners and MVP’s. Simply because you have knowledge of sports, does not qualify you for anything.

As you may know a dear friend of mine, Brandon Reef, started a small sports blog operation nearly a year ago. Never would I imagine that it would soon become a passion of mine. Quickly, our small blog is leading to bigger and better things. On Saturday February 25, 2017, I earned my first media credentials for the Indiana Hoosiers versus Northwestern Wildcats men’s basketball game. It was Senior Night at Assembly Hall, what a way to crack into the sports journalism world, right?

The days before the game I was frantically searching Google for answers to my many questions. What do I wear? What questions should I ask at the press conference afterwards? Where do I go? All questions I desperately needed to find answers for, but unfortunately I could not find anything.

Which made me think, this is the perfect opportunity to begin sharing my new found knowledge. Sure, I will not be the last person to earn their first media credentials. I am most certain there are others out there searching online for the information I was also seeking. The following are lessons I learned from my first night as an official member of the sports media world.

#1 – Dress for success. 

Most of the sports journalists that were in attendance either wore dress slacks and a button down shirt, or they wore dress jeans with a blazer. I did see a couple of people in jeans and hoodies, but I would not recommend this the first time you attend an event. As our blog is trying to create a unique identity, I decided on dress jeans and a blazer. I fit right in.

#2 – The other members of the media are not eager to talk to you. 

This is not to say that they are not nice people, but remember what they are there for. This is their full time job. Most of them are cranking out information and articles to meet deadlines while they are trying to establish unique storylines throughout the game. So don’t feel offended if you try to speak to your favorite beat writer and they do not give you the time of day.

#3 – Just because you have credentials, does not mean you sit court side.

Below is a photo which gives you a view from our perspective. Members of the media have great seats, but those are reserved for the veterans. If you are starting out like us, get ready for views like this. And yes, watching from your television may be more enjoyable. Most of the people sitting around us were similar to our group, smaller media outlets or student programs.

#4 – Media Relations staff members do a great job. 

It would make sense that media relations staff members whom you may work with are very nice and exceed expectations. After all, you are a member of the media and they want you to think favorably of their team, facilities, staff, etc. We did encounter a small hiccup along the way, but when we contacted our media relations staff member they responded quickly and handled the situation. If you have any questions about what to do, this should be your go to person.

#5 – If you do not have patience, you will not last.

When you first get to the facility you are excited, and it is almost game time! After the game is when things slow down, and you find yourself in need of patience.  We had to wait for Senior Night festivities and then wait again for Coach Tom Crean to address his team before he made his way to the podium for his post-game press conference. We waited nearly an hour before we were able to ask questions. At the end of the day, we spent nearly eight hours in total for this experience, just to get a glimpse of what it takes to succeed. If you do not have the patience to stick with it, I would find something else to do.

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a sports writer? I hope that my experience can provide some insight on what to expect when getting started. All in all, I had a great experience being a member of the sports media. This opportunity will allow our blog to continue to grow to bigger and better things.

But remember, just because you are a fan of sports, does not mean you are ready to have a job. To succeed in this business you need to have tangible skills, and willing to pay the price. This work is not for the faint of heart. You have to be ready to work long hours, work in uncomfortable conditions and have the grit as well as determination to succeed. Simply because you know a few trivia facts, does not mean you are ready to be the next Skip Bayless or Erin Andrews.

 

 

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