A Sports TV Writer sounds like a straightforward job, but a writer's tasks can vary greatly from day-to-day. Not all Sportscasters or Sports Reporters write all of their own material, so writers need to be available to help the on-air talent complete their script writing. Sports TV Writers also work on long-form feature projects and special assignments.
Writing well and accurately can take time, time that Sportscasters or Reporters may not have. Writers are there to help ease the strain and make sure every story is accurate, compelling and newsworthy. In Television, credibility is essential, and factual mistakes will ruin trustworthiness and inevitably hurt ratings. Every script needs focus and attention.
Sports TV writers also work on long-form features, the type of story that needs time, research and crafting. A writer tasked with a feature on 'Women in Sports Journalism', would have multiple days to create a storyline and get it ready for video editing.
Often Sports TV writers will get opportunities to work in the field, interviewing people and composing in-depth stories. For many, becoming a Field Producer is their career goal.
When I first started in the Sports TV industry one of my good friends was a Writer. He was hard at work one day and I casually asked "whatcha working on?", expecting it to be some cool investigative report or dramatic feature. His reply, "Obituaries". I felt sure he couldn't predict who was going to die, so I was confused. Turns out, my network would prepare obituary stories for high profile athletes that were either getting older, sick or participate in dangerous sports. Just in case.
I was amazed at this, but it makes a lot of sense. TV relies on speed and accuracy, and if a high-profile athlete dies, you don't have 3-5 hours to research, write and edit a story for air. Being prepared for death keeps you one step ahead, no matter how morbid it may seem.
This little known fact actually saved me on air one day. On February 18th, 2001, I was producing a 1 hour show live on the air at the conclusion of the Daytona 500. Rumors started to circulate that a seemingly benign crash had claimed the life of NASCAR hero Dale Earnhardt. Rumors turned to truth, and a simple show turned very complex.
It was a tragic day for sports fans of all kinds, but our broadcast team had to remain focused and get the news out to the audience. It wasn't enough to just re-count the events that transpired, we needed more depth to our coverage. We just so happened to have an 6 minute obit feature on Dale Earnhardt that provided a career retrospective and celebrated his life and accomplishments.
Nobody wants to see tragedy strike, but we were able to give the audience what they wanted, information and perspective. Without some advance preparation we would have fallen short.
You desire to be a Field Producer. Field Producers need to know how to craft stories and identify interesting angles quickly, this is where writers are often strongest. Being a good Writer trains you to find story angles and get a message across to an audience.
A Writer that wants to eventually work in the field will need to learn the technical side of remote operations.