The job of a sports analyst is one that many sports fans dream about having. Sports analysts get paid to watch sporting events and then air their opinions about them. However, this is a simplistic definition of the job of a sports analyst. A sports analyst combines the duties of a journalist with an understanding and knowledge of sports.
A sports analyst has to fulfill the duties of a journalist in any media organization: writing and editing copy and covering sporting events. However, a sports analyst provides in-depth reports, which have more detail and analysis about games or tournaments than news reports about those events. Most sports analysts focus on a single sport and possess in-depth knowledge about the sport, its rules and its players. An analyst should be extremely careful to ensure that his personal biases do not color his reports or analyses.
Aspiring sports analysts have a variety of media to choose from – they can work for newspapers, online magazines and sports portals, radio stations or TV channels. Most sports analysts have similar job duties and responsibilities, though job descriptions may vary slightly depending on the medium. An analyst who works in a newspaper office, for instance, has to write a column about sporting events, while an analyst who works in a TV station may write scripts and provide live updates and post-game discussions. The working conditions, deadlines and pace of work can vary depending on the organization he works for.
An analyst should have basic journalistic skills of writing, ability to work long hours under pressure, excellent communication skills and the ability to maintain healthy relationships with sources. The ability to look at an issue from different angles is essential. An analyst who works for a TV or radio station also needs excellent oral communication skills and a forceful on-air presence. An analyst also needs to have a head for numbers; the ability to recall statistics is vital, as it can add depth and meaning to the analysis. He must also be good at research, and be able to break down and process information received from various sources.
Most sports analysts begin with a degree in journalism or communications and work their way to the top. Acquiring a few years of work experience as a sports journalist or a sports broadcaster helps an aspiring analyst to establish himself as an expert. Today, many universities offer courses in sports journalism, and getting a degree is the first step towards establishing a career as a sports analyst. Those without journalism degrees can also become analysts by beginning work at media organizations at the beginner level and learning on the job.