Sports journalists cover sports events and produce written or broadcast reports on those events.
Traditionally sports journalists are drawn from the ranks of news reporters who expressed an interest in reporting sport. This is still a viable route for sports reporters, with many well known sports journalists working first as a news reporter before getting their big break in sports reporting by standing in for a sports reporter who was unable to attend a big event. But the trend is now for young journalists to specialise earlier and this is reflected in the development of specific sports journalism courses, accredited by the NCTJ, which aim to see their young graduates join a sports desk immediately once they leave the course.
These courses are listed in the accredited courses section of this website. On these courses students sit NCTJ exams in news reporting, public affairs and media law, as much of sports reporting is about more than the action of what happens on the pitch. Sports journalists have to follow such issues as making sure a new ground will be ready for the start of the new season or whether a race track will be in a suitable financial position to host a Formula One Grands Prix. Stories such as this require an understanding of planning laws, media law and company structures and finances.
Students will also study shorthand, as sports journalism is an area of reporting where quotes must be reported quickly and accurately. Many sports reporters have to compile and file a report of the first half of a football match within the 15 minute span of half-time at a football match.