Sports on its own is interesting but sports analysts make it all the more engaging and refreshing. Learn how to become a sports analyst so you too can break down sports and provide colorful commentary to enable people to love the game. To get a sports analyst job and earn a great salary, however, you would need to attend a credible college and acquire a relevant degree.
Sports analysis is something people do out of a passion for the game than for love of the pay – even though the pay is great. Thus, to become a sports analyst, you must be almost inseparable from sports. You must understand sports way beyond the basics. So you see, you’ll have to do a lot to qualify to become a sports analyst.
In this post, we’ll share with you all the much you have to do to become a sports analyst. While this is a complete guide to becoming a sports analyst, we’ll also share with you some nuggets on the job. In addition to this, we will also clarify you on some terms, like sports analyst and sports broadcaster. Stay put!
Who is a Sports Analyst?
A Sports Analyst is an expert who dissects sports games and unravels exciting statistics that makes the game more beautiful. A sports analyst could be a sports journalist or T.V commentator.
The sports analyst could also be someone who utilizes sports data to make projections based on statistics and mathematical formulas. They also break down information for sports coverage to provide detailed insights and opinions.
Whichever role the sports analysts play (journalist or commentator), a sports analyst must be intimately familiar with the world of sports and have the right background and experience.
What are the Responsibilities of Sports Analysts?
A sports analyst is the voice of sports, so he literally communicates for sports to sports lovers. His responsibilities include the following:
Difference Between Sports Analyst and Sports Broadcaster
It is quite surprising to find people who interchange the terms sports analysts and sports broadcasting. While the difference may not be many or contrasting enough, it is quite clear.
A sports broadcaster is also sportscaster. The sports broadcaster reports sporting events on television, radio, or webcasts. While some report the past sporting events as a regular newscast, others report the sporting events as they are happening.
On the other hand, a sports analyst is one who reports sporting activities and gives an insightful breakdown as well as statistical data that helps viewers understand or interpret the game better.
From the definitions above, you can deduce that the sports broadcaster’s business lies in the presentation of sports news – past, or as it is happening. The analyst, on the other hand, goes past news reporting to other stories, statistics, and personal perceptions that explain the game.
While the sports broadcaster keeps you updated on sports, the sports analysts fix you into the game and help you live the game.
Furthermore, a sports analyst can do the job of a sports broadcaster but it will be difficult for the sports broadcaster to fit into the technical job of the sports analyst.
Sports Analyst Career and Salary
There are two major career paths open to sports analysts. He can choose to become a sports journalist or he may choose to work with data and statistics. Working as a journalist, the sports analyst may become a commentator who analyzes the game during halftime. To do this, he has to understand a large volume of sports information and be an effective communicator. The sports journalist must be able to think fast and speak on a wide range of subjects.
As a sports analyst working with data and statistics, however, you may work directly with sporting teams. Teams that use analytics to look at player and team data to gain a competitive edge always need sports analyst to provide them with quality analysis. A football analyst, for example, may have to watch the tape of a game over and over again, marking down every pass, fumble, interception, tackle, and penalty. He then uses these numbers to assess the performance of the team and reports the findings to the head coach.
Sports analysts hardly have a physical office where you can meet them for consultation. They get jobs working in television, radio, newspapers, and other print and online media. However, some sports analysts work as independent contractors, selling high-profile stories to a variety of publishers.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the Sports Statistical Analyst job has a job growth expectation of 27% However, this figure categorizes the sports analyst under Statisticians.
Steps to Become a Sports Analyst
So, you’ve decided to be the man behind the wonderful commentaries that make you love your sports all the more. How do you go about it? Are there certain preparations you must make to ensure you fit perfectly into the role?
First, you must understand that even though sports analysts catch fun while delivering, what they do is professional. So, like every professional career, you must lay the background right.
We will show you how to lay the perfect background and progress to be a famous analyst in the sections to follow.
#1. Start Following and Loving Sports
You can’t progress and become the best in something you have no interest in. So, to begin your journey to becoming a sports analyst, you must love sports. Like we mentioned earlier, the analyst’s job is fueled by passion and not by cash reward. If you just fancy listening to the sports professionals you watch on screen, begin now to follow the sports they discuss with your heart.
It may not do to grow enthusiastic in only one kind of sports. A sports analyst is supposed to be a walking sports encyclopedia. So while you’re focusing your learning on any two or three kinds of sports, let it be exhaustive. Know all the league divisions, know the teams in these divisions, the game officiators, and even the fans. Basically, you have to become a sports fanatic.
#2. Equip Yourself with Statistics
Records are very important in this line of business, you don’t joke with it. How many times have a team won a title? Who is their highest goal scorer? How many times have they won or lost to the opponent they are currently facing? These statistical records should be at your fingertips.
Statistics is the language of sports analysis, it shows how much authority you have as a professional. You will have to make authoritative assessments and predictions based on statistical models. In as much as it does not appear necessary, you’ll have to take one or two formal statistics course to help you understand its application to sports analysis.
#3. Get a Relevant Undergraduate Degree
Virtually all the analysts you’ve watched on screen or listened to have a university degree in their coffers. An undergraduate degree is your first ticket to professional sports analysis. If you don’t get one, you may yourself perpetually analyzing sports with your peers in a pub over bottles of beer.
So, dust up your bag and return to college to get an undergraduate degree. Meanwhile, you don’t need any kind of undergraduate degree. You need to get a degree in journalism, communications, or broadcasting. While it’s not very compulsory to have one of these degrees in order to land a job in sports journalism, most employers will only accept you if you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
If you can’t get to a brick and wall college, take advantage of online programs. There are several reputable schools now offering degree programs towards sports analysis. A degree related to sports analysis coupled with the right experience will increase your employability in the field.
#4. Look for Internship Positions
An internship position in a media house or printing press is your first experience on the job. Some college shaped their curriculum in ways that provide for you to get an internship experience. However, if in the course of acquiring your bachelor’s degree your college doesn’t provide the opportunity for an internship position, take advantage of the summer break.
As an intern, you’ll learn the nitty-gritty of the job at an actual station. You will also be able to observe the daily lives of experts already on the job. College professors and journalism departments can help you find internships. They will also work with the station to make sure you get the experience you need.
An internship will not only give you a glimpse into the world of sports broadcasting, but it will also help you build a great resume.
#5. Grab a Graduate Degree
Remember that we said a sports analyst is an authority in the field. What better way to assert your authority than acquiring a Master’s degree?
A desire to progress in the sports analytic profession will normally push you towards earning a MAster’s degree. Also, while an undergraduate is enough to place you in an employment position as sports analysts, a graduate degree will increase your chances of earning a higher salary.
Many graduate programs curriculum focuses more specifically on sports analytics and broadcasting. Unlike the undergraduate degree that gives you a general journalism or communication knowledge, this one gets you an education in your chosen field of expertise.
Also, a graduate degree will require you to significantly narrow your area of focus. This may not help you get your first job but it makes you a hotcake for special positions in the future.
#6. Play a Sport
Have you realized that many sports TV invites former sportsmen in the field to make analysis on or before a current game? What is even more interesting is that these former sportsmen give really insightful analysis. When they give presumptions, you almost bob your head in agreement because you’re telling yourself, “This man was there once, he knows what he’s saying.”
So, you see, if you are disposed to playing a particular sports and you can participate well, go for it. It is one of the pathways to a blissful career in sports analysis.
Becoming a sportsman in a particular sport will give you a chance to work closely with other players, coaches, recruiters, and journalists. It will also afford you inside knowledge of the workings of the industry. Don’t let your student status hinder you if you’re a student. Join a team in your community league. Some well-known sportscasters began as players, you could also be one of such.
#7. Become a Better Communicator
As a sports analysis, your primary job is communicating sports. If you can’t articulate well thought out points, you have to start working to be better.
You can start by writing out your thoughts and analyses of sporting events. Then practice communicating what you’ve written. It would surprise you to know that professional analysts don’t just give opinions straight from their heads. They had first written them down in the form of blurbs, editorials, and written interviews then memorized them.
Also, polish your verbal skills – your pronunciations, tone, accent, and speed. It is not a lie when people say sports analysts are extroverts. Your job will involve talking to a large audience, so you’ll have to get comfortable around people. Set a daily personal target of how many people you’ll hold conversations with if possible.
Learn to write well too. A lot of writing goes into sports reporting, even if you’re working in broadcasting. If you write well, you’ll be better at your job. Also, seek out interviews because, through them, you get fresh information. Devise a system for interviewing players, coaches and other personnel. Know how to make the best use of a short interview segment, and which questions to ask to receive the information you’re after.
#8. Build a Strong Network
To grow in any profession, you’ll need a strong connection with industry professionals. Get yourself out there and be known. Attend sporting events regularly and meet as many industry professionals as you can. Try to take up a minute of the coach’s time, or ask a sports reporter to tell you how they broke into the business. This information may not be relevant for the project you have at hand but remember that you’re trying to gain exposure.
Don’t hoard your name. Give your name to everyone you meet/interview and let them know that you’re interested in getting started as a sports journalist. They will surely remember you this way when the time comes for you to use their network. Also, boldly ask for advice on how to progress in the job. Of course, you don’t know all, and you’re opportune to meet a big name in the industry. Truth is, most sports reporters are very comfortable talking to people and will be happy to share the secrets of their success with you.
#9. Get a Job in Sports Journalism or Broadcasting
You’ve built your knowledge on a variety of sports, you can speak fluently and write well, and you have an undergraduate degree, why wait? Seek out a job already in Sports journalism and broadcasting. grow the little knowledge of the job you may have gotten from the internship.
You may have to smart small initially, working for community newspapers or an independent local television station. Don’t whimper, almost every big name started small. The more you absorb yourself into the job, the more your love for the job grows. You’ll also expand your knowledge on the workings of the industry.
To grow, compile copies of the articles you write and any tapings you appear on to build a portfolio which you’ll show to more prestigious employers in the future.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t land a job at your first set of trials. Sports analytics is one of the most competitive professions in the country, and there is no short supply of wannabes. Your rejection should be an inspiration to work harder. While you hope to work with Fox News, hardly anybody starts their career working with Fox News.
Work your way from small to big, utilize your network, and understand that you may need to travel to plenty of cities to work. This is how you’ll grow on the job.
#10. Start Growing Yourself into a Brand
While waiting to land the job of your choice, have you considered starting up something of your own? Think about it, all the broadcasting networks out there which the government didn’t startup, came to existence from a man’s (or group of people’s) idea.
Work on getting better at your presentation and analysis, then explore additional platforms of getting yourself out there. You can create a YouTube channel where you give insightful analysis of Football, Basketball, Cricket, or whichever sports your audience want to listen to.
Be consistent in your delivery. Set a timeline and keep to it, and don’t fail to ask people to follow, subscribe, and share your channel. YouTube is one way. You can explore online magazines, blogs, the printing press, anything your current funds can take care of.
#11. Always Give Credible Information
Verify every information you give because this will largely decide how high you grow in the profession. You can go from Hero to Zero if you consistently provide wrong and fabricated information.
Always remember that your mission as a sports analyst is to provide the public with factual, reliable information. Take out time to carefully research facts and represent them appropriately in your write-ups. Use your statistical expertise to produce accurate figures and predictions, and share your own insights whenever you have the chance. Sports lovers will love to hear your judgment following the accurate statistics you have provided.
Thus, always verify any bit of information before you feed them to your audience. So, you’ll need to build a network reliable sources that will give you an inside line on developing updates.
#12. Love Appearing on the Radio or TV
Over time, you’ll find that the sports analysts superstars are the ones that appear on TV or whose voice warms the radio. While some sports analysts confine themselves to offices researching and writing reports, others will find themselves presenting these reports to the masses on the air. Which role would you rather play?
If you intend to advance your career as a top sports analysts, you’ll have to build a professional style that people crave to see on screen or hear on air. To be able to grow comfortable with appearing in broadcasts, you’ll have to learn to think on your feet and stay poised.
It can be intimidating broadcasting for radio or TV but with time, you’ll get accustomed to it. You could also learn to work with teleprompters, research databases, word processing programs, and other technology which professionals use.
#13. Ensure to Always Meet Strict Deadlines
In any profession, you’ll always need discipline to succeed. If you’ll grow as a sports analyst, you’ll need to deliver on time. Sports analysts usually have to update prediction models, website columns, and other materials. You may have to make these updates under strict time constraints, so ensure to be equal to the task.
Grow the habit of starting projects immediately you receive them. Also, adopt an organized approach to data collection and analysis. There is always so much to do with little time, so you would have to acquire the skill of working efficiently under pressure.
However, your daily tasks as a sports journalist will vary depending on your employer and your exact job description. Still, it would one way or the other involves extensive paperwork which you’ll have to submit in a timely manner in order to support the information in broadcasts.
#14. Consider Specialization
We hinted on this when we talked about getting a graduate degree. While you may need to gain intensive knowledge on every available sport at the onset, maturity in the profession may demand that you’re an unopposed master in a particular sport.
Let it be that when broadcasting stations, sports TVs, or sports club think of who to invite for a particular sport, they think of you. You will gain more popularity and reputation being an authority in one area of the sports then when you’re an all-rounder.
Of course, your specialization would give you enough time to build for research for better analysis. It will also spur your desire to advance your education and gain more knowledge in that area of sports. It will also help you grow your industry network.
#15. Keep to Date on Sports News and Results
Like you know, education never really ends. If you want to be the best in your profession, always remind yourself that there’s still more to learn. As a sports analyst, your learning which never ends is to keep to date with sports news and results.
Don’t stop watching sports and following every action of different teams, leagues, and events. Even if you’re not observing from the press box, you should do your best to stay current on major developments in the sports world. Game results, player trades, injuries, team personnel changes, stay abreast with them.
Remember that your reputation depends on your ability to keep up with all types of sports-related information at once. Well, the good side of it is that you enjoy doing these things and the money is rolling in from actualizing your passion.
While you make your own research, follow the major news outlets like SportsCenter and ESPN to catch the big stories as they unfold. Also, make use of your professional sources for exclusive inside information.
Sports Analyst Colleges
Are you an aspiring sports analyst and you’re yet to get a university degree? We’ve got you covered.
In this section, we will share with you colleges where you can get an undergraduate degree or certificate in sports journalism to kickstart your career and become a sports analyst.
The University of Texas, Austin
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Certificate & Bachelor’s Degree
Indiana University – Bloomington
University of Maryland – College Park
Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree
Sports analysts differ from Sports broadcasters in that the analyst uses statistical facts to make deductions that will make you love sports while sports broadcasters simply provide you recent or past sports news. Also, while the analyst can work as a broadcaster, it is going to be hard for the broadcaster to fit as an analyst. You can attend sports analysts colleges to acquire a degree and kickstart your sports analyst career and earn up to $47,471 annually.