Education Requirements for Sports Writers

Common education requirements, degrees, and alternatives for aspiring Sports Writers.

Start Your Sports Writer Career with Teal

Join our community of 150,000+ members and get tailored career guidance from us at every step

Create a free account

Do You Need a Degree to Become a Sports Writer?

The pursuit of a career as a Sports Writer often leads to the pivotal question: Is a degree necessary? While a degree in journalism, communications, or English is traditionally seen as a gateway into sports writing, the field is becoming more accessible to those with a passion for sports and a talent for storytelling. A degree can certainly lay the groundwork, offering valuable skills in research, writing, and media ethics, but it is not an absolute prerequisite for success in this domain. In the dynamic world of sports media, practical experience and a deep understanding of sports can sometimes outweigh formal education. Many accomplished Sports Writers have built their careers on a foundation of hands-on experience, whether through blogging, freelancing, or internships. The ability to engage readers, a deep knowledge of sports, and a unique voice can set you apart in this competitive industry. The landscape is broadening, with opportunities for those who demonstrate a keen insight into sports culture and an ability to connect with an audience. While a degree can open doors and provide a competitive edge, dedication to the craft, networking, and continuous learning are equally important in carving out a successful career as a Sports Writer.

Educational Backgrounds of Sports Writers

A Snapshot of Today's Sports Writers' Educational Background

The realm of sports writing is populated by individuals with a wide array of academic credentials, reflecting the versatility required in the field. Many Sports Writers hold degrees in Journalism, Communications, or English, which provide them with the foundational skills in writing, reporting, and editing. A significant number also have educational backgrounds in Sports Management or Kinesiology, offering them a deeper understanding of the sports they cover. However, it's not uncommon to find Sports Writers with degrees in unrelated fields, who have leveraged their passion for sports and writing to carve out successful careers.

Evolving Trends and the Shift in Educational Preferences

Traditionally, a degree in Journalism or Communications was considered the standard entry point for aspiring Sports Writers. However, the digital age has broadened the scope, with many successful writers entering the field with diverse educational backgrounds and leveraging online platforms to showcase their expertise. The industry now values practical experience and a strong portfolio as much as formal education. This shift underscores the importance of adaptability, digital literacy, and a deep-seated passion for sports in the making of a Sports Writer.

Education for Aspiring Sports Writers: What Matters?

For those looking to break into sports writing, a few key educational elements stand out:
  • Strong Writing and Reporting Skills: Often developed through degrees in Journalism, Communications, or English, but also through consistent writing practice and contributions to sports blogs or school newspapers.
  • Sports Knowledge and Analysis: Gained through formal education in Sports Management, internships, or being an active participant in the sports community.
  • Media Savvy and Digital Competence: Critical in today's media landscape, which can be honed through new media or digital journalism courses.
  • Building a Path Forward: Education and Beyond

    Aspiring Sports Writers should focus on a combination of education and practical experience:
  • Writing Experience: Building a portfolio through freelance work, blogging, or writing for college sports publications.
  • Networking: Engaging with sports media professionals and joining organizations like the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) to build industry connections.
  • Staying Informed: Keeping abreast of the latest sports news, trends, and digital tools that can give an edge in reporting and storytelling.
  • The Bottom Line: Diverse Backgrounds, Unified Passion

    The educational backgrounds of Sports Writers are as varied as the sports they cover, with no single degree guaranteeing success. What unites them is a passion for sports, a talent for storytelling, and the ability to engage readers. Aspiring Sports Writers should focus on honing their craft, building a robust portfolio, and immersing themselves in the sports world to develop the unique blend of skills that this dynamic field demands.

    Most Common Degrees for Sports Writers

    While a formal degree may not be an absolute necessity for a career as a Sports Writer, understanding the educational backgrounds of industry professionals can be advantageous. A degree can provide a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that are beneficial in sports journalism and related fields. For those considering a career in sports writing, exploring the common degrees held by current professionals can offer insights into the knowledge areas and expertise that can help one excel in this competitive field.

    Journalism or Communications

    A degree in Journalism or Communications is one of the most common and directly relevant educational paths for Sports Writers. These programs typically cover the principles of reporting, writing, and editing, as well as ethics and law in journalism. Sports Writers with this background are well-versed in crafting compelling stories, conducting interviews, and understanding the media landscape, which are crucial skills for reporting on sports events and narratives.

    English or Creative Writing

    Degrees in English or Creative Writing can also be beneficial for aspiring Sports Writers. These fields emphasize writing proficiency, critical thinking, and analysis, which are important when it comes to producing engaging and insightful sports content. A strong command of language and the ability to tell a story in a captivating way are skills that can set a Sports Writer apart in their field.

    Sports Management or Kinesiology

    For those interested in the technical and business aspects of sports, degrees in Sports Management or Kinesiology can provide a unique perspective. Understanding the inner workings of sports organizations, athlete management, and the science of human movement can add depth to a Sports Writer's work, allowing them to cover a broader range of topics with authority and insight.

    Marketing or Public Relations

    Sports Writers with degrees in Marketing or Public Relations bring a strategic mindset to their work, understanding how to engage audiences and what drives fan interest. These degrees offer knowledge in brand building, audience analysis, and communication strategies, which can be particularly useful for those looking to specialize in promoting sports teams, events, or athletes.

    History or Sociology

    A background in History or Sociology can provide Sports Writers with a broader cultural and social context for their writing. These disciplines encourage a deeper understanding of societal trends, historical significance, and the role sports play in shaping communities and identities. Sports Writers with this knowledge can enrich their storytelling by connecting sports to larger themes and societal issues.

    Popular Majors for Sports Writers

    The role of a Sports Writer encompasses a broad range of responsibilities, from reporting on games and interviewing athletes to analyzing statistics and crafting compelling narratives. As such, certain academic majors can provide a strong foundation for those looking to pursue a career in sports writing. Here are some of the popular majors that have proven to be beneficial for professionals in this field.


    A major in Journalism is one of the most direct pathways to a career as a Sports Writer. This discipline focuses on the principles of reporting, writing, and editing, as well as ethics and law in the media industry. Journalism students learn how to craft engaging stories, conduct interviews, and adhere to journalistic standards—all skills that are essential for covering sports events and writing articles that captivate readers.


    Majoring in Communications offers a broad understanding of how to convey information effectively, which is crucial for Sports Writers who need to present complex information in an accessible way. Courses in media studies, public speaking, and digital communication prepare students for the multimedia aspects of sports writing, including podcasting, video content, and social media engagement.

    English or Creative Writing

    An English or Creative Writing major provides a strong foundation in language, literature, and composition. These programs emphasize storytelling, critical thinking, and the nuances of language—all valuable skills for Sports Writers who aim to produce compelling narratives and in-depth analyses of sports events.

    Sports Management

    While not a traditional pathway to sports writing, a major in Sports Management can be highly beneficial. It offers an insider's perspective on the sports industry, including knowledge of sports operations, event management, and sports marketing. This background allows Sports Writers to understand the business and organizational aspects of sports, which can enrich their reporting and analysis.

    Kinesiology or Sports Science

    For those interested in the technical and physical aspects of sports, a major in Kinesiology or Sports Science can provide valuable insights. Understanding the science behind athletic performance and sports injuries can help Sports Writers produce more informed and detailed content, particularly when covering topics related to health, fitness, and sports medicine.


    A major in History is beneficial for Sports Writers who wish to place sports events in a broader context. This major develops research skills and an understanding of historical trends, which can be instrumental when writing about the evolution of sports, legendary figures, and significant moments that have shaped the world of athletics. Each of these majors offers unique advantages for aspiring Sports Writers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in this dynamic and exciting field.

    Popular Minors for Sports Writers

    Choosing the right minor is a strategic step for aspiring Sports Writers looking to enhance their primary education. While a major in Journalism, Communications, or English provides a solid foundation, a minor can offer specialized knowledge or a new perspective that is highly advantageous in the sports writing field. Here are some popular minors that can complement the skill set of a future Sports Writer.

    Sports Management

    A minor in Sports Management provides Sports Writers with a deeper understanding of the sports industry's business side. Knowledge of sports operations, event management, and sports marketing can be incredibly useful when covering stories that go beyond the game and delve into the economics and management of sports.


    Sports Writers often rely on player statistics and game data to create compelling narratives. A minor in Statistics equips them with the analytical skills necessary to interpret and present data accurately, enhancing their ability to write data-driven stories that resonate with statistically-minded audiences.


    Understanding the mechanics of human movement and sports injuries can be a significant asset for a Sports Writer. A minor in Kinesiology offers insights into the physical aspects of sports, which is beneficial when discussing player injuries, rehabilitation, and performance from a more scientific perspective.

    Media Studies

    A minor in Media Studies allows Sports Writers to explore the broader context of sports within the media landscape. This knowledge helps them understand the role of sports in society, the impact of digital media on sports journalism, and how to effectively engage with audiences across various platforms.

    Public Relations

    Public Relations as a minor complements a Sports Writer's ability to navigate the relationship between the media, athletes, and sports organizations. It provides skills in crafting press releases, managing media relations, and understanding the intricacies of sports publicity and athlete representation.


    A minor in History, especially with a focus on sports history, can enrich a Sports Writer's work by providing context and depth to their storytelling. Knowledge of historical events, sports legacies, and the evolution of games can add a layer of sophistication to articles and reports, connecting past and present in the sports world.

    Why Pursue a Degree for a Sports Writer Career?

    The journey to becoming a sports writer is as thrilling as the games covered by the profession. In a world where the sports industry continues to expand and evolve, the role of a sports writer has become more significant than ever. Pursuing a specialized degree in sports journalism or sports communication is increasingly becoming a valuable step for those looking to excel in this competitive field. A degree tailored for sports writers offers a structured educational experience that delves into the nuances of sports reporting, ethics in journalism, multimedia storytelling, and the business of sports. This formal education provides an in-depth understanding of the sports industry and the role of media within it, equipping aspiring sports writers with the knowledge to produce insightful and engaging content. Moreover, degree programs often incorporate practical components such as internships with sports media outlets, college athletic departments, or professional sports teams. These real-world experiences are crucial for bridging the gap between classroom theories and the fast-paced sports media landscape, allowing students to build a portfolio that showcases their ability to cover live events, conduct interviews, and engage with sports audiences.

    Networking and Professional Growth in Sports Writing

    One of the most significant benefits of pursuing a degree in the field of sports writing is the networking opportunities it presents. Students have the chance to connect with peers who share their passion, faculty with industry experience, and visiting professionals who often provide guest lectures or workshops. These connections can lead to mentorships, collaborations, and job opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible. Additionally, the degree program serves as a platform for professional growth. Through academic conferences, student media, and sports journalism associations, students can gain visibility and establish a reputation that can help launch their careers upon graduation.

    Facilitating Career Transition and Advancement

    For those looking to transition from another career into sports writing, a specialized degree offers a clear pathway to acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge. It can significantly ease the transition by providing a comprehensive understanding of sports media, its current trends, and the digital tools used in today's sports reporting. As for career progression, the degree can open doors to advanced career paths within the industry. Graduates can aspire to roles such as lead sports columnist, editor, or even director of communications for sports organizations. The degree lays the groundwork for continuous learning and development, which is essential for those aiming for senior positions that influence the direction of sports media and content strategy.

    What Can You Do with a Degree in Sports Writing?

    A degree in sports writing prepares individuals for a variety of roles within the sports media industry. Graduates can pursue careers as sports journalists, analysts, broadcasters, or content creators for digital platforms. The skills acquired also apply to roles in public relations for sports teams, leagues, or athletic brands, where effective communication and storytelling are key. Beyond traditional media roles, the degree also equips sports writers to venture into the growing field of sports content marketing, where they can create compelling narratives for brands looking to connect with sports fans. Additionally, the expertise gained through a sports writing degree is invaluable for those interested in starting their own sports blogs, podcasts, or independent media outlets. In the long term, the degree supports career growth into leadership roles such as sports editor, media relations manager, or head of content, where sports writers can shape the voice and direction of sports coverage on a larger scale. In conclusion, pursuing a degree for a sports writer career is not just about enhancing one's writing ability; it's about immersing oneself in the sports industry, understanding its intricacies, and developing a network that will support a vibrant and successful career in sports media.

    Degree Alternatives for a Sports Writer

    Exploring alternative pathways to becoming a Sports Writer can open doors to a dynamic and exciting career without the traditional academic route. These alternatives emphasize practical experience and a deep understanding of the sports industry, which are essential for capturing and engaging an audience with compelling sports narratives.

    Internships and Apprenticeships

    Internships and apprenticeships with sports media outlets provide invaluable on-the-job training. Aspiring Sports Writers can learn directly from experienced journalists, gaining insights into the industry while building a portfolio of published work. This hands-on experience is often highly regarded by employers and can lead to job opportunities.

    Online Writing Workshops and Courses

    Online writing workshops and courses specifically tailored to sports journalism offer flexibility and targeted learning. Platforms like MasterClass, Udemy, or Poynter provide courses taught by renowned Sports Writers, focusing on storytelling, reporting techniques, and the ethics of sports journalism. These courses can sharpen writing skills and provide industry-specific knowledge.

    Contributing to Sports Blogs and Websites

    Writing for sports blogs, fan sites, or creating your own sports content platform can serve as a practical training ground. Regularly contributing articles allows writers to develop their unique voice, build an online presence, and demonstrate their passion for sports. This experience can be a stepping stone to professional opportunities.

    Networking and Social Media Engagement

    Building a strong network within the sports community is crucial. Engaging with Sports Writers, editors, and industry professionals on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can lead to mentorship, collaboration, and job leads. Active participation in sports forums and discussions can also raise a writer's profile.

    Volunteering for Local Sports Organizations

    Volunteering to cover local sports events for community newspapers, school teams, or amateur leagues provides real-world writing experience. It allows aspiring Sports Writers to practice their craft, understand the nuances of sports reporting, and make connections with local sports figures and organizations.

    Navigating a Sports Writer Career without a Degree

    Navigating a career as a Sports Writer without a traditional degree requires a strategic approach and the ability to leverage your unique strengths. Success in this field is often driven by adaptability, a self-driven mindset, and a passion for sports. Here are some practical tips to help you build a successful career in sports writing without formal academic qualifications.

    Start with a Strong Foundation in Sports Knowledge

    Your depth of knowledge in sports will be your cornerstone. Immerse yourself in the sports world, understand the rules, history, and current events. This expertise will be invaluable and can often compensate for the lack of a formal degree.

    Write Regularly and Publish Your Work

    Create a blog, contribute to fan forums, or write guest posts for sports websites. Regular writing sharpens your skills and builds a body of work that showcases your expertise and style. Published pieces serve as a practical portfolio for potential employers or clients.

    Develop a Niche Expertise

    Specialize in a particular sport, league, or type of sports analysis. This can help you stand out in a crowded field. Being known as an expert in a specific niche can lead to targeted opportunities and a loyal readership.

    Build a Professional Network

    Connect with other sports writers, editors, and industry professionals. Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great for networking. Attend sports events, press conferences, and writing workshops to meet peers and mentors.

    Utilize Social Media

    Social media is a powerful tool for sports writers. Use it to share your work, engage with your audience, and stay on top of breaking sports news. A strong social media presence can increase your visibility and credibility in the field.

    Learn Multimedia Skills

    In today's digital age, being able to complement your writing with audio, video, or graphic content can be a significant advantage. Learn the basics of multimedia production to enhance your storytelling and appeal to a broader audience.

    Seek Freelance Opportunities

    Freelancing can provide diverse writing experiences and help you build a reputation. Look for freelance gigs with online sports publications, local newspapers, or sports blogs. Each assignment can add to your portfolio and professional credibility.

    Embrace Feedback and Critique

    Use feedback to improve your writing. Whether it's from editors, readers, or colleagues, constructive criticism is essential for growth. Learn from your experiences and continually refine your writing style and content.

    Stay Informed About the Sports Industry

    Keep up with the latest developments in sports, including changes in team dynamics, management, and emerging trends. A well-informed sports writer is a credible one, and staying current is crucial for engaging and accurate reporting.

    Consider Certification Programs

    While not a substitute for a degree, certifications in journalism, sports media, or communication can bolster your qualifications. They can provide you with fundamental skills and demonstrate your dedication to the craft of sports writing.

    Education FAQs for Sports Writer

    Do you need to go to college to become a Sports Writer?

    While a college degree in journalism or communications can be advantageous for a Sports Writer, offering a strong foundation in writing and media ethics, it isn't mandatory. The sports writing industry values engaging storytelling, in-depth sports knowledge, and the ability to connect with readers. Many successful Sports Writers have built their careers through blogging, freelancing, networking, and demonstrating a deep passion for sports, often bypassing traditional educational routes.

    Is it worth it to get a degree for a Sports Writer role?

    A degree in Sports Writing can provide a solid foundation in journalism, critical thinking, and sports knowledge, which are essential for this career. However, its value depends on your career objectives and preferred learning path. For many, the degree's structured curriculum and networking are beneficial. Yet, hands-on experience, a strong portfolio, and networking within the sports community can be equally crucial and sometimes obtained through alternative means like internships, workshops, and online resources.

    How important is continuous learning for a Sports Writer?

    Continuous learning is vital for Sports Writers to keep pace with the ever-changing sports landscape, including trends, statistics, and digital media advancements. Staying informed through ongoing education, whether via journalism courses, sports analytics seminars, or networking with industry experts, is essential for delivering insightful, accurate reporting and maintaining a competitive edge in a field driven by real-time information and diverse storytelling techniques.
    Up Next

    Sports Writer Certifications

    Learn what it takes to become a JOB in 2024