We all know this familiar sound. The high-def graphics accompanied by loud music — da da da, da da da. Then the voiceover brings you in.
This is Sportscenter.
ESPN leads the world in sports broadcasting, connecting us with the powerful stories we see in sports. For those who want to find meaningful work in sports, broadcasting is a great field to consider.
Sports broadcasting involves providing coverage of sporting events using several different types of media. Broadcasters are known to provide in-depth analysis and play-by-play announcing for major sports networks, but they also do so much more.
Sports broadcasters are storytellers, bringing stories from the field and sports organizations to fans. Making this connection can be incredibly rewarding, but it also requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Typically, sports broadcasters write and prepare news coverage and analysis, then present it in an engaging way. However, it’s difficult to narrow down the role of sports broadcasting into one area.
In fact, the profession includes a lot of responsibilities. It involves analyzing sporting events, announcing play-by-plays, interviewing coaches and athletes during pre- and post-game coverage, making educated predictions on future games, exploring sports history, reading from a teleprompter, and writing scripts and articles — just to name a few.
To perform these various duties, sports broadcasters usually have a varied skill set. Aside from the essential skills needed to work in sports, they are also good at:
- Assistant Athletic Director, Digital Media & Broadcasting
Collegiate Sports Administration - Northeast Region
- Engineer - Broadcasting
Sports Media - West Region
- Writing their own material
- Developing a positive on-air personality
- Speaking well in public
- Pacing storytelling
- Researching sports topics
- Developing relationships by using interpersonal skills
- Building technical skills for editing and production
There is a wide range in earning potential for sports broadcasting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ research from May 2016 found the average annual salary for radio and television broadcasters is $41,800.
The good news? Broadcasters who work in sports earn more. Those employed in the sports industry earn an average salary of $92,360 each year.
To work in sports broadcasting, professionals often pursue an undergraduate degree in communications, broadcasting, journalism, radio and television, media, or other closely related fields.
The curricula focuses on aspects like journalism, media writing, communication law, mass media, and audio production.
To get a better idea of what life is like as a sports broadcaster, we spoke to Adam Rubin, the assistant athletic director for strategic communications at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). He also works as a contributor to SportsNet New York and previously covered the New York Mets for ESPN.
Here’s what he had to say:
The Three Essentials
Rubin laid out three essentials you need to succeed as a sports broadcaster.
1. Be comfortable in front of a camera.
2. Learn how to write and ask questions.
3. Exhibit a strong work ethic.
“I’d highly recommend working for a college newspaper, even if you don’t want to pursue a print career,” he said. “That’s the best training ground because it forces you to order your thoughts and present them logically and clearly. It also forces you to interview people face to face.”
Your First Step
When trying to find work in sports, you will realize the value that working as an intern has on your career. Rubin echoes this sentiment.
“You need to get internships while still in college,” he said. “One of the best places to pursue internships are regional sports networks.”
You should also consider jumping on the new trend — content creation.
“Professional and college sports teams are creating their own content and they need personnel in order to do so,” he said. “So definitely pursue opportunities directly with teams. You can start by pitching in with creating online video content, as just one example.”
To demonstrate your value to teams and prove you know how to tell a compelling story, you can also create your own website and share unique content.
How Broadcasting is Changing
Just last month, ESPN announced a massive layoff of about 100 employees, including some on-air talent. Rubin explained this shift in the industry.
“Cord-cutting is dramatically changing the broadcasting world,” he said. “ESPN’s layoffs happened because its subscriber base has shrunk by millions. If that network receives $7 from each cable subscriber’s bill, losing several million subscribers has a dramatic effect—especially considering the rights fees for leagues are fixed for the next decade.”
Fortunately, Rubin shared a silver lining.
“The good news is that young people, as has been the case in the newspaper industry, will become more attractive as employees,” he said. “They are relatively cost-effective to hire.”
No matter your age, when you’re looking to work in sports broadcasting, focus on one thing — proving your value to potential employers.
The sports broadcasting industry is continually changing as people start to consume content in different ways. But the bottom line is that if you’re a good storyteller who loves connecting fans to their favorite teams, sports broadcasting is perfect for you.
How are you finding work in sports broadcasting?