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Reporting about sports might seem like a dream job, and in some ways, it is. Good sports reporters must be more than just fans who know the rosters; there is skill, talent and honing of the craft involved. Good sports reporters must understand the rules of the sports they cover, study the teams, turn around their work on a quick deadline, and ask pertinent questions of coaches and players in often difficult circumstances.
It's no guarantee, but chances are, if you are covering sports, you are a fan to some extent. This is why it's important to remain impartial to the events you are covering. When you let your rooting emotions get the best of you, you run the risk of both missing important data and coming across as unprofessional. Also, it's important to not judge a player or team on his past actions with the media when devising your questions or writing your article.
Coaches, athletes and, to some extent, even fans, can be a mercurial bunch. This is why it's important to craft your approach carefully when interviewing subjects. For example, notice the quiet, empathetic and respectful demeanor that reporters have on television when they are interviewing in the losing locker room.
Good sports reporters always are looking for a fresh, creative angle with their stories. All too often, story lines get beaten into the ground in the sports world. Not only does this turn off your readers, but it can lead to the coaches and athletes to thinking less of you, which can adversely affect future interviews. Even if you are writing a straightforward recap of a game, find a way to engage the readers with your lead.
Like countless reporters who are covering other news, sports reporters have to adjust to working odd hours. Even scheduled events are subject to change, as evidenced by baseball games getting rained out. Plus, there's the issue of overtime and/or extra innings. Oftentimes, a deadline is set for midnight no matter how long the game drags on. A good sports reporter will be able to create good copy even if she has to write it in 45 minutes. Also, she should be able to cover a variety of sports in several formats, be it feature stories, game recaps or previews.
Advanced technology has created a 24-hour news cycle that requires instant, up- to-the-minute updates. A good sports reporter will be able to effectively multitask when covering games, such as tweeting brief commentary and writing in-game blogs all while taking notes on the game itself for the actual recap to be written later. That said, he should be technologically proficient in order to quickly provide information in various formats.
Dave Stanley has covered sports, music and hard news since 2000. He has been published on CBSSports.com and various other websites. Stanley is also a feature writer for "WhatsUp!" magazine in Bellingham, Wash. He studied journalism at the University of Memphis.