Sports broadcasting can be a great career path for passionate sports fans. Sports broadcasters enjoy a range of personal and professional benefits as they earn their living by analyzing sports events and sharing their thoughts with an attentive audience. If you feel called to pursue a career that combines sports with media, you may be curious about the process of how to become a sports broadcaster. Explore this potential career path and get started by working toward a relevant degree.
In This Article:
- What Does a Sports Broadcaster Do?
- Get Started on Your Broadcaster Career
- Take the Next Step to Becoming a Sports Broadcaster
What Does a Sports Broadcaster Do?
If you’ve ever watched a sports game on the TV or listened to one on the radio, then you’ve already encountered the work of sports broadcasters. These media professionals are responsible for delivering informed analysis and commentary during sporting events. It’s common for a sports broadcast to feature two broadcaster career paths:
- Play by play announcer: The play-by-play announcer is, as the title suggests, responsible for keeping the audience informed of what is happening during each play of the game. (Example: “The batter drives the ball deep to left. The outfielder is running flat-out to try to field it but can’t get there in time and one runner will score.”)
- Color commentator: The color commentator, often a former professional player, is responsible for delivering expert analysis and relevant background information. Often, the play-by-play announcer will ask the color commentator questions about the game or its players to spark a conversation. (Example: “Johnson’s really been working on his splitter this off-season, and you can see in this graph on the screen here how much he’s changed the shape of the pitch compared to last season. It gives this team another effective option out of the bullpen.”)
Although the viewers or listeners of a sports broadcast will directly experience their work only during the game, sports announcers do a great deal more behind the scenes to ensure that they have in-depth knowledge about the game, its players and recent developments (e.g., rule changes). In order to stay informed of everything that’s happening in a particular sport and with any given team, broadcasters typically perform the following tasks:
- Study film from previous games and watch interviews conducted by other media professionals
- Examine the latest news and check out the latest statistics
- Conduct pre-game and post-game interviews with players and coaches
- Prepare a list of discussion points for each broadcast
Although you’ll learn to polish many important skills while you pursue a sports broadcasting career, the importance of hands-on experience in the field cannot be overstated. If you’re still in high school or are already in college, look for job-shadowing opportunities and similar experiences that will allow you to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what sports broadcasters typically do during their workday.
Get Started on Your Broadcaster Career
High school is a great time to start taking steps toward pursuing a career as a sports broadcaster. Find out whether your school has a newspaper or television station and learn how you can apply to be part of the related programs or clubs. See whether you can take on any of the sports-related responsibilities, such as writing about recent school games or interviewing student athletes.
Also consider trying out for one or more teams if you are also interested in playing sports. This type of experience will help you become more familiar with rules, terminology and broadcasting in general.
After high school, you’ll need to earn an undergraduate degree. There is some flexibility regarding the type of degree you can earn.
Earn a Sports Broadcasting Degree
Some schools for sports broadcasting may indeed offer a specific sports broadcasting major. However, it’s more likely that you’ll need to choose something a bit broader in scope. Instead of a specific sports broadcasting degree, for example, you could choose to take courses in communications.
Studying communications can provide you with the knowledge needed to work in sports journalism. This includes learning effective communication skills, telling engaging stories and gaining knowledge about the production process for television shows, newspapers and radio shows. University courses in communications will help you build the skills required to pursue various careers in print and digital media, including sports communication.
While studying communications, you can expect to engage in topics such as:
- Research methods for communication
- Conflict and negotiation skills
- Advocacy and argumentation
- Public relations principles
Find Internship Opportunities in the Sports Industry
Along with gaining an academic foundation to become a sports broadcaster, it is important to look for opportunities in the sports industry throughout your degree program. You should focus on networking and making connections with various people in broadcasting. This will make it easier for you to learn about internship opportunities that you might qualify for after earning your degree.
Talk to a school counselor to find any local stations in need of interns. You can also look at online publications to find opportunities for hands-on experience working with professional sports announcers. This type of on-the-job training can be invaluable if you want to become an appealing candidate for sports broadcasting jobs in the future.
Gaining Experience After Attending Schools for Sports Broadcasting
As a sports broadcaster, you may work for a range of teams, venues, schools and other organizations over the course of your career. There may also be a wide variety of tasks assigned to your role, such as reporting on scores, speaking with athletes and offering your thoughts on a team’s strategy and future performance. In entry-level sports broadcasting jobs, you may be responsible for off-air tasks. For example, you may need to operate cameras, write copy, handle phone calls or assist the on-air broadcaster.
It is crucial to gain experience with as many different tasks as possible when you are starting out. This will help you gain an even better understanding of the industry. It will also help you make more connections and show that you are a hard-working and dedicated member of your organization. As you gain more experience, you may be able to move on to on-air responsibilities that will test the skills you learned during your undergraduate program.
Take the Next Step to Becoming a Sports Broadcaster
At Grand Canyon University, our Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Broadcasting and New Media degree program is designed to help you gain the skills needed to pursue a variety of rewarding career paths, including sports broadcasting. We also offer the Bachelor of Science in Sports and Entertainment Management degree to those who aspire to work in the business side of sports.
To learn more about programs offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, fill out the form on this page.
Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on May 15, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.