Sports broadcasters start out calling NBA Finals games or hosting SportsCenter. Most begin by covering high school or minor college sports for a local radio station, TV channel, or digital outlet. This is a great way to gain experience, build your resume, and start making connections. Look for opportunities to do play-by-play, colour commentary, sideline reporting, or even producing. Volunteer if you have to. Getting behind a microphone or in front of a camera is valuable when you’re just starting.

Many successful national broadcasters got their start this way. Before becoming the voice of Sunday Night Football, Mike Tirico called games for Syracuse University’s radio station whiles still a student there. Fox’s lead MLB and NFL announcer, Joe Buck, began by calling high school and college games in his native St. Louis. Legendary NHL announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick started at a small Pennsylvania college. The point is that everyone has to start somewhere – and that somewhere is usually small and local. Embrace those early opportunities to learn and grow.

Develop key skills

The first opportunity requires having the necessary skills. At the most basic level, sports broadcasters need to have a deep knowledge of the sports they cover, excellent vocal and communication abilities, and a tremendous on-air presence.

  1. Writing-Whether crafting game recaps, scripting a report, or posting on social media, writing is a crucial skill for sports broadcasters today. Take journalism or communications classes and look for opportunities to write about sports Click here for more info.
  2. Storytelling-The best broadcasters are great storytellers. They know how to engage the audience, provide context, and find compelling human interest angles. This requires robust reporting and interviewing abilities as well.
  3. Versatility-Today’s sports media landscape values broadcasters who contribute in multiple ways. You write, report, host a show, produce digital content or edit videos.
  4. Tech & new media savvy-Increasingly, sports broadcasting are a multimedia, multi-platform field. Familiarize yourself with a range of production technologies. Build your social media presence and learn how to create shareable digital content.

Get an education

Nowadays, most sports broadcasters have a college degree in journalism, communications, broadcasting or even sports management. While only some take the same path, a relevant degree has become almost a prerequisite to entry into this competitive industry.  Look for a program that offers hands-on experience and exposure to critical skills like writing, reporting, producing and on-air delivery. If possible, attend a school known for its sports broadcasting program and strong alum network in the industry. Syracuse, Missouri, Northwestern, and Arizona State are some of the top schools for aspiring sports broadcasters.

But don’t think your education ends once you graduate. The best broadcasters are lifelong learners, always looking to expand their knowledge. Continue to take classes, attend workshops, and find mentors you learn from throughout your career.

Build your network

Sports broadcasting, more than any other field, who you know matters a lot. Many jobs are filled through inside connections and networking. So, in addition to building your skills, you need to build your network. Start by joining industry associations like the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), or the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA). Attend their conferences and events. Follow sports media influencers on social media and interact with their posts. Reach out to sports broadcasters you admire and politely ask if they could spare a few minutes for an informational interview or career advice.

Alum from your school who is now working in the industry may alert you to an opening. A fellow broadcaster may recommend you for a new online show.

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