Sports columnist working on a laptop

Becoming a sports columnist is a dream for many who are passionate about writing and sports. This career path allows you to share your insights and analyses and connect with a wide audience of sports enthusiasts. This guide will provide you with a detailed roadmap on how to become a sports columnist, highlighting the significance of each step.

Step 1: Understand the Role of a Sports Columnist

Let’s break down step 1 of how to become a sports columnist:

What Does a Sports Columnist Do?

Write Opinionated and Analytical Articles on Sports Topics

  • Content Variety: Articles can cover game analyses, player performances, team strategies, and broader issues like sports management, ethics, and economics.
  • Depth of Analysis: Columns often delve deeper than standard news reports, providing historical context, statistical breakdowns, and tactical insights.
  • Current Trends: Regularly write about trending topics, such as recent games, player transfers, injuries, and major sports events like the Olympics or World Cup.

Provide Unique Perspectives, In-Depth Commentary, and Expert Insights

  • Opinion Pieces: Share your personal take on controversial issues, such as rule changes, player behavior, or management decisions.
  • Comparative Analysis: Compare and contrast players, teams, and eras to offer readers a richer understanding of the sport.
  • Expert Interviews: Incorporate insights from interviews with athletes, coaches, and analysts to add credibility and depth to your articles.

Influence Public Opinion and Shape Discourse Around Sports Events

  • Cultural Impact: Sports columnists often influence how fans perceive events, players, and decisions. Your voice can spark debates, influence opinions, and even impact a team’s or player’s reputation.
  • Social Issues: Address broader social issues related to sports, such as gender equality, racism, mental health, and the role of sports in education and society.
  • Engagement: Foster a community of readers who regularly engage with your content, share your articles, and participate in discussions.

Why It Matters: Understanding your role helps you focus on developing necessary skills, establish a strong professional identity, and set clear career goals. It ultimately positions you as an authoritative voice in sports journalism. Understanding your role is crucial when learning how to become a sports columnist.

Step 2: Develop Essential Skills

Smiling sports columnist working at a desk

Let’s now explore step 2 of how to become a sports columnist:

Enhance Writing Skills

Practice Writing Daily

Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to write. Use writing prompts specifically related to sports events, analysis, or hypothetical scenarios to diversify your writing practice. Tools like can help track daily writing progress and encourage consistency.

Seek Constructive Feedback

Join platforms like Scribophile or Writer’s Workshop, where you can get detailed critiques from experienced writers. Consider hiring a freelance editor from sites like Reedsy to provide professional-level feedback on your work.

Read Extensively with a Focus

Read not only sports columns but also investigative journalism pieces and long-form essays. Analyze how writers structure their arguments and use narrative techniques. Use resources like to find exemplary pieces that push the boundaries of sports writing.

Study Advanced Writing Techniques

Invest time in understanding advanced narrative techniques such as foreshadowing, pacing, and character development, which can make your sports columns more engaging. Books like “The Elements of Story” by Francis Flaherty can offer deep insights into narrative journalism.

Take Specialized Courses 

Enroll in advanced writing workshops like those offered by the Poynter Institute or Columbia Journalism School’s online courses. These programs often provide in-depth coverage of sports journalism and offer networking opportunities with industry professionals.

Why It Matters: Developing advanced writing skills and incorporating non-obvious techniques allows you to produce compelling, high-quality articles that stand out. 

Deepen Your Sports Knowledge

Watch Games Analytically

Instead of just watching games for enjoyment, analyze them critically. Focus on player strategies, coaching decisions, and game dynamics. Use tools like Coach’s Eye or Hudl to break down game footage and understand finer details.

Study Advanced Statistics

Learn to interpret advanced sports statistics and analytics. Websites like FiveThirtyEight and FanGraphs provide in-depth statistical analysis that can enhance your understanding of the game. Books like “The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball” offer insights into using statistics for deeper analysis.

Follow Sports Analysts

Regularly read and follow the work of respected sports analysts and columnists. Pay attention to their methods of analysis and how they incorporate data and personal insights into their writing.

Participate in Online Forums

Engage in sports forums like Reddit’s r/sports or specialized forums for specific sports. These communities often discuss advanced strategies, player performance, and insider information, providing a deeper understanding of the sports landscape.

Take Sports Management or Coaching Courses

Enroll in courses that offer insights into sports’ business and strategy side. Sites like Coursera and edX offer courses in sports management and coaching, which can provide a broader understanding of the field. Some courses may even discuss how to become a sports columnist directly.

Why It Matters: Deepening your sports knowledge allows you to provide more insightful and authoritative commentary, enriching your articles, building your credibility as a well-informed columnist, and making your work more valuable to readers seeking in-depth analysis.

Master Research Skills

Utilize Reputable Sources 

Always use credible sources like official sports league websites, respected news outlets, and academic journals. Access databases such as JSTOR or Google Scholar for scholarly articles on sports-related topics.

Verify Facts Thoroughly

Cross-check information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy. Tools like and Snopes can help verify controversial claims or statistics.

Interview Experts

Conduct interviews with coaches, players, analysts, and other experts to gather firsthand information. Prepare thoughtful questions and record interviews for accuracy. Books like “The Art of the  Interview” by Lawrence Grobel offer valuable tips on conducting effective interviews.

Stay Updated

Use RSS feeds or tools like Feedly to stay updated with sports news and developments. To get real-time updates, set Google Alerts for specific topics or players.

Organize Research Efficiently

Use tools like Evernote or Scrivener to organize your notes, sources, and research materials systematically. Creating a database of frequently used sources and contacts can save time and improve the quality of your research.

Why It Matters: Mastering research skills ensures that your articles are well-informed, accurate, and credible. This thoroughness enhances the quality of your writing and builds trust with your readers.

Step 3: Build a Strong Portfolio

Sports columnist handing their portfolio to a smiling HR representative Viewers of this file can see comments and suggestions

Now that you know how to develop essential skills, let’s explore step 3 of how to become a sports columnist.

Start a Blog

Choose a Niche

Focus on a specific area within sports you are passionate about and knowledgeable about, such as college basketball, sports analytics, or athlete profiles. Specializing can help you stand out in a crowded field.

Select the Right Platform

Use blogging platforms like WordPress, Medium, or Ghost that offer user-friendly interfaces and customization options. WordPress, in particular, is highly customizable and offers numerous plugins to enhance your blog’s functionality.

Create Quality Content Consistently

Commit to a regular posting schedule, whether it’s weekly or bi-weekly. Consistency helps build a loyal readership. Each post should be well-researched, insightful, and engaging to establish your authority in the niche.

Use SEO Strategies

Optimize your blog for search engines by using keywords, meta descriptions, and alt text for images. Tools like Yoast SEO for WordPress can help improve your site’s search engine ranking and visibility.

Promote Your Blog

Share your posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to reach a wider audience. Engage with sports communities on Reddit, sports forums, and relevant Facebook groups to drive traffic to your blog.

Engage with Your Readers

Respond to comments and feedback to build a community around your blog. Use tools like Disqus for a better-commenting system that encourages interaction. Hosting Q&A sessions or live discussions can also increase reader engagement.

Analyze Performance

Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to track your blog’s performance. Understand which topics resonate most with your audience and refine your content strategy accordingly.

Why It Matters: Starting a blog allows you to showcase your writing style, expertise, and unique perspectives. It helps you build an audience, gain feedback, and create a professional portfolio that can attract potential employers or freelance opportunities. A well-maintained blog demonstrates your commitment and passion for sports journalism.

Freelance Writing

Target Publications

Use Writer’s Market and Who Pays Writers to find high-paying sports publications. Look for niche opportunities on

Craft Effective Pitches

Create a strong pitch template, including a catchy headline, summary, and why it’s relevant now. Use recent statistics or trends to support your pitch.

Build an Online Portfolio

Use platforms like to showcase diverse articles. Include multimedia elements like video analyses and podcasts.

Network Strategically

Engage with editors on Twitter and LinkedIn. For networking, join professional groups like the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC).

Why It Matters: Freelance writing diversifies your portfolio and builds industry connections, making you a more versatile and respected sports columnist.

Network with Industry Professionals

Attend Industry Events

Participate in sports journalism conferences like the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) convention or the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) awards. These events offer networking opportunities with top industry professionals.

Leverage Social Media

Follow and engage with sports journalists, editors, and influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn. Regularly comment on their posts and join relevant discussions to build relationships.

Join Professional Associations

Become a member of organizations such as the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) or the Online News Association (ONA). These groups offer resources, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

Participate in Online Forums

Engage in discussions on platforms like Reddit or specialized sports writing forums. Share insights, ask questions, and connect with peers.

Request Informational Interviews

Reach out to experienced sports columnists for informational interviews. Prepare thoughtful questions about their career paths and advice for newcomers. Tools like LinkedIn can help you find and connect with these professionals.

Collaborate on Projects

Offer to collaborate with other journalists on articles or multimedia projects. Joint bylines and partnerships can lead to further opportunities and exposure.

Why It Matters: Networking with industry professionals can open doors to job opportunities, provide mentorship, and enhance your reputation in the sports journalism community. Building these relationships is crucial for career growth and staying informed about industry trends. Ultimately, networking is one of the most important steps in learning how to become a sports columnist.

Step 4: Pursue Relevant Education

Students in a class learning how to become a sports columnist

With a strong portfolio ready, it is time to think about step 4 of becoming a sports columnist.

Obtain a Degree in Journalism or Communications

Select the Right Program

Choose a reputable university or college known for its journalism or communications programs. Schools like Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism) or Columbia University offer top-tier programs.

Focus on Sports Journalism

If available, enroll in courses that specifically focus on sports journalism. Look for programs that offer specialized tracks or electives in sports media or even specific programs on how to become a sports columnist.

Gain Practical Experience

Participate in student-run media outlets like newspapers, radio stations, or TV channels. This hands-on experience is invaluable and can be included in your portfolio.


Secure internships with sports media organizations during your studies. Internships provide real-world experience and networking opportunities, often leading to post-graduation job offers.

Utilize School Resources

Take advantage of your school’s resources, such as career services, alumni networks, and journalism clubs. Attend workshops, lectures, and networking events hosted by the university.

Capstone Projects

Engage in capstone projects or theses that allow you to focus on sports journalism. These projects can be significant portfolio pieces demonstrating your expertise and dedication.

Why It Matters: Obtaining a degree in journalism or communications provides a solid foundation in media principles, enhances your credibility, and offers practical experience through coursework and internships. This education equips you with the skills and connections necessary to succeed as a sports columnist.

Specialized Sports Journalism Programs

Research Elite Programs

Target top programs like USC Annenberg’s M.S. in Journalism.

Evaluate Unique Offerings 

Choose programs offering cutting-edge courses in sports analytics, esports journalism, and multimedia storytelling. Look for those that include VR/AR in sports reporting, which are becoming increasingly relevant.

Industry Immersion

Select programs that provide access to major sports events for coverage, such as NCAA tournaments or professional league games. Schools like Northwestern offer opportunities to report from real events as part of their coursework.

Access to State-of-the-Art Facilities

Opt for schools with advanced facilities like broadcast studios, editing suites, and access to industry-standard software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and StatCrew for sports data analysis.

Networking Opportunities

Look for programs that include networking trips to major sports media hubs like ESPN, Fox Sports, or regional sports networks. Schools often organize these trips to connect students with key industry players.

Alumni Success Stories

Research the program’s alumni network and their career trajectories. Schools with alumni working at top sports media outlets (e.g., ESPN, The Athletic) can provide powerful networking opportunities and mentorship.

Why It Matters: Specialized sports journalism programs that offer unique courses, industry immersion, and access to state-of-the-art facilities equip you with specific skills and experiences highly valued in the sports media industry, this tailored education provides a significant competitive edge, enhancing your employability and expertise as a sports columnist.

Step 5: Gain Practical Experience

Sports columnist writing in a notebook in front of a laptop

Now that you’re pursuing a relevant education, you can begin step 5 of becoming a sports columnist.


Target Top Organizations

Aim for internships at leading sports media outlets like ESPN, Bleacher Report, or local sports networks. These organizations provide high-quality experience and exposure to industry best practices.

Leverage University Connections

Utilize your school’s career center and alumni network to find internships. Many universities have exclusive partnerships with sports media companies, offering students unique internship opportunities.

Customize Your Application

Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight relevant skills and experiences. Include any previous sports writing, media coursework, and involvement in campus media. Showcase specific skills like video editing, social media management, or sports analytics.

Showcase a Strong Portfolio

Prepare an online portfolio with your best work. Include articles, video reports, and multimedia projects. Use platforms like WordPress or Wix to create a professional-looking site.

Prepare for Interviews

Research the company thoroughly and be ready to discuss their recent work, your sports knowledge, and how your skills can benefit them. Prepare to talk about specific sports events or trends to demonstrate your expertise.

Make the Most of Your Internship

  • Be Proactive: Take initiative by pitching story ideas and volunteering for assignments. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and dedication to learning how to become a sports columnist.
  • Network Within the Organization: Build relationships with colleagues and mentors. Attend company events, participate in meetings, and seek feedback on your work.
  • Learn and Adapt: Be open to learning new skills, whether it’s a new software tool, social media strategy, or on-camera reporting technique. Adapt to the fast-paced environment of sports journalism.

Seek Diverse Experiences

If possible, intern at different types of organizations, such as a sports TV network, a print magazine, and a digital sports media company. This diversity will round out your experience and make you more versatile.

Why It Matters: Internships provide hands-on experience, industry connections, and a deeper understanding of the sports media landscape. They are crucial for building a strong resume, gaining practical skills, and establishing yourself in the competitive field of sports journalism.

Cover Live Events

Start Small but Strategic

Begin with less prominent events like minor league games or amateur tournaments to practice live reporting. Partner with local sports blogs or small publications that are more likely to grant you press access.

Secure Media Credentials

Research the specific credentialing process for each sport and league. Develop a professional media kit including a bio, samples of your work, and endorsement letters from past editors or professors.

Optimize Your Reporting Toolkit

  • Tech Essentials: Invest in a high-quality digital voice recorder and a DSLR camera with a good zoom lens. Use a lightweight tripod and portable battery packs to ensure you’re always prepared.
  • Apps for Efficiency: Use transcription apps like for quick interview turnarounds and note-taking apps like Notion to organize your coverage.

Master the Art of In-Game Analysis

Develop a quick, systematic approach to analyzing the game while it’s happening. Use shorthand or symbols to quickly jot down key plays, strategies, and player performance.

Pre-Event Preparation

  • Research Teams and Players: Know the players’ stats, recent performance, and any ongoing controversies. Websites like Pro-Football-Reference or Basketball-Reference offer comprehensive statistics.
  • Plan Your Coverage: Outline potential story angles before the event. Prepare questions for different game outcomes to streamline post-game interviews.

Engage with Your Audience

  • Live Interactions: Use platforms like Twitter Spaces or Instagram Live to interact with your audience during halftime or breaks, engaging your followers and giving real-time insights.
  • Instant Polls: Conduct live polls on Twitter to gauge audience reactions during the game. Incorporate these results into your post-game analysis for a more interactive experience.

Post-Event Analysis

  • Detailed Recaps: Write thorough game recaps with advanced statistics and player performance analysis. Use tools like StatMuse for quick access to relevant stats.
  • Visual Enhancements: Create data visualizations with tools like Infogram to illustrate key game statistics. Integrate video highlights using Adobe Premiere Pro to enrich your analysis.

Build Relationships

Network with other journalists covering the event. Share insights and offer to collaborate on future projects. Building a professional network can lead to more opportunities and valuable mentorship.

Why It Matters: Covering live events allows you to demonstrate your ability to produce timely, engaging, and insightful sports journalism. It builds your credibility and showcases your capability to handle the dynamic and fast-paced nature of live sports coverage, setting you apart as a proficient and dedicated sports columnist.

Engage with Readers

Create Interactive Content

Use platforms like Twitter and Instagram to post polls, quizzes, and interactive stories about upcoming games or sports events. Tools like Poll Everywhere can make your interactions more engaging and professional.

Host Live Sessions 

Schedule regular live Q&A sessions or post-game analysis on platforms like YouTube Live, Instagram Live, or Twitter Spaces. Promote these sessions in advance and encourage followers to submit questions.

Respond to Comments

Respond actively to comments on your articles and social media posts. Use tools like Disqus to manage comments better on your blog. Acknowledge reader feedback and create a dialogue around their input.

Utilize Email Newsletters

Build a mailing list and send out weekly newsletters with exclusive content, game predictions, and personal insights. Services like Mailchimp or Substack can help you manage and grow your subscriber base.

Feature Reader Contributions

Encourage readers to submit their opinions, questions, or game predictions. Highlight the best contributions in your articles or social media posts, giving credit to the contributors.

Conduct Surveys 

Use surveys to understand what topics your readers are interested in. Tools like SurveyMonkey can help you create detailed surveys to gather valuable feedback.

Personalize Your Brand

Share behind-the-scenes content about your work process, game-day routines, or personal sports experiences. This will create a personal connection with your readers and make your brand more relatable.

Create a Community

Develop a dedicated space for your readers, such as a Facebook Group or a subreddit, where they can discuss your articles and share their thoughts on sports topics. Moderating and participating in these discussions can build a loyal community.

Why It Matters: Engaging with readers fosters a loyal audience and provides valuable feedback to refine your content. Building a strong, interactive community enhances reader trust and makes your work more impactful, ultimately elevating your profile as a sports columnist.

Step 6: Continuous Learning and Adaptation

A sports columnist researching the latest sports news on a laptop

Now that you have practical experience, it’s time to think about step 6 of how to become a sports columnist. 

Stay Updated

Use Aggregator Tools

Utilize news aggregators like Feedly or Flipboard to compile the latest sports news from various sources. Customize your feed to include top sports journalism sites, blogs, and industry news.

Subscribe to Newsletters

Subscribe to daily or weekly newsletters from reputable sports journalism sources such as The Athletic, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated. Newsletters often provide curated content and expert analysis.

Follow Industry Experts

Follow prominent sports journalists, analysts, and commentators on Twitter and LinkedIn. Create lists on Twitter to organize these accounts and monitor their updates regularly.

Join Professional Associations

Become a member of organizations like the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) or the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE). These associations offer resources, news updates, and networking opportunities.

Attend Webinars and Conferences

Participate in industry webinars, workshops, and conferences. Events hosted by organizations like the Poynter Institute or sports media companies provide insights into the latest trends and techniques in sports journalism.

Engage in Online Forums

Join sports journalism forums and communities on platforms like Reddit or specialized forums. These communities often discuss the latest developments and offer diverse perspectives.

Set Google Alerts

Create Google Alerts for specific sports, teams, or players to receive real-time updates directly to your inbox, ensuring you’re always informed about breaking news and developments.

Podcasts and YouTube Channels

Follow sports journalism podcasts and YouTube channels that offer in-depth discussions and analysis. Programs like “The Lowe Post” and “The Ringer” provide valuable insights from experienced journalists.

Why It Matters: Staying updated ensures that your articles remain relevant, timely, and informed by the latest trends and insights. This continuous flow of information helps you maintain a competitive edge, enriches your analysis, and keeps your audience engaged with current and accurate content.

Adapt to Digital Media

Learn SEO Techniques

Understand the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase your article’s visibility online. Use tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs to find relevant keywords and analyze traffic patterns. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your headlines, subheadings, and content.

Leverage Social Media

Utilize platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to promote your articles and engage with a broader audience. Use social media analytics tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to track engagement and optimize your posting schedule.

Create Multimedia Content

Enhance your articles with videos, podcasts, and infographics. Tools like Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, Audacity for audio recording, and Canva for creating infographics can help diversify your content.

Develop a Personal Brand

Build a consistent online presence across all digital platforms. Make your brand easily recognizable by using a professional headshot, a unique logo, and a consistent color scheme. Regularly update your profiles and share behind-the-scenes content to humanize your brand.

Engage with Digital Communities

Join and participate in online sports forums, Reddit threads, and Facebook groups. Engaging with these communities can provide insights into trending topics and audience preferences.

Stay Updated on Digital Trends

Follow digital media experts and attend webinars on the latest digital marketing and journalism trends. Websites like Nieman Lab and offer valuable resources on digital media innovations.

Experiment with New Platforms

Stay open to emerging platforms and technologies. Experiment with tools like Substack for newsletter writing or Twitch for live-streaming sports commentary. Early adoption can give you a competitive edge.

Optimize for Mobile

Ensure your content is mobile-friendly, as a significant portion of readers access articles via smartphones. Use responsive design templates and test your content on various devices to ensure a seamless user experience.

Use Data Analytics

Review analytics data regularly to understand what type of content resonates most with your audience. Platforms like Google Analytics and social media insights provide detailed user engagement and behavior metrics.

Why It Matters: Adapting to digital media ensures your content remains accessible, engaging, and relevant in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Mastering these skills enhances your ability to reach and grow your audience, keeping you competitive and innovative in the field of sports journalism.

Find a Sports Columnist Job Today!

Learning how to become a sports columnist requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for both writing and sports. If you’re ready to take the next step towards a successful career as a sports columnist, explore the opportunities at Jobs in Sports. Take advantage of our sports job listings and membership options to propel your career forward. We offer the ability to post your resume, view detailed job listings, and search our sports job database. Your dream job in sports media is just a click away!