When work is play: All you want to know about being a Sports Journalist

Have you ever wanted to interview sports idols like Sachin Tendulkar, Ronaldo, Federer? Well, all your dreams are only one job away.

With Sports Journalism, you’re not only making a living but also meeting people who inspired you throughout your life (pretty good deal I must say).

I had the opportunity to speak to two sports journalists Ashwin Hanagudu who worked for Sportskeeda and Roshan Thyagarajan who is working with Wisden India, an online publication which provides in-depth cricket coverages. They spoke about how they got into the field, the pros and cons of the job and the many different projects they worked on.

Be prepared to start local

Like most jobs, even as a Sports Journalist you have to start at the bottom. Don’t expect to be covering the Indian Premier League from Day One.

“When I started, I was covering a whole lot of local table-tennis, badminton and basketball. When you work with any newspaper you’re not given a beat right away. You are asked to cover everything, which is great for a beginner. For example, I got to report on Junior table tennis matches. Watching the kids play, you get to learn a lot more about the sport and its nuances.” Roshan said.

Roshan Thyagarajan is a sports journalist with Wisden India
Roshan Thyagarajan is a sports journalist with Wisden India

Be Sporty and Social!

A sports journalist must, of course, have an interest in sports but should also have good language and reporting skills. One tip Ashwin offered is to observe minute details during matches and events.

One should also have good interpersonal skills.

“Building relationships with people is very important. A lasting first impression and good interpersonal skills will help you get access to many players and coaches and take you forward in your career,” Ashwin said.

It’s more than interviews and matches!

Through TV shows and newspapers, we all draw assumptions that all sports journalists do is review matches and interview sportsmen, but that’s not it.

“A fan always knows the basics so giving him or her the chance to learn something new through your article becomes very important. One project I worked on specifically was to analyze Liverpool’s style of play under their manager Jurgen Klopp,” Ashwin said.

They also worked on projects which focused on the history of the sport and were very stat-intensive. “We undertook a huge project to find the top 10 goal scorers of all time in professional football. While it seemed like an easy task at first, on doing intensive research, we found that it was in fact Arthur Friedenreich and not Pele (as it was popularly believed) who is the top goal scorer of all time,” Ashwin explained.

Ashwin Hanagudu worked on a variety of projects as a journalist at Sportskeeda
Ashwin Hanagudu worked on a variety of projects as a journalist at Sportskeeda

Making your interviews stand out from the rest

When you are interviewing a sportsperson, you could ask them about their views on matches and how they’re preparing but that won’t keep your readers entertained and satisfied.

“With my questions, I try to focus on where this athlete comes from. When you really make them sit down and get to the core of them, you can get outstanding answers that reveal who they are, insecurities and all put together,” Roshan said.

He enjoys uncovering the personalities behind the big names and understanding what drives them.

“For example, I interviewed Virat Kohli at some point and it’s easy to see how confident he is on the field but when you meet him in person and ask him questions on his childhood, you can see how the insecurities are fueled,” Roshan said.

Athletes use their emotions to help them perform better and that’s what makes them so interesting. Details like these can make your reports more engaging for readers.

If this still does not convince you that this is a cool job here are some thoughts by Roshan- “I think it’s the only facet in journalism where you can live your childhood, when people idolized Sachin Tendulkar, I could meet the guy and that was brilliant.” This is one of the few jobs where you get to meet idols you looked up to in your youth.

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Karishma Rao wants to travel, meet new people and learn about different cultures and traditions. She is currently in her 1st year pursuing Journalism at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore and plans to study much further. She is highly ambitious and goal-oriented. You’ll either find her reading classics or on a run.

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