Sports journalism is a form of journalism that reports on sports topics and events.

Sports journalism has grown in importance as professional and amateur sports have grown in wealth, power and influence as well. Within some newspapers at times, the sports department has been sometimes mockingly called the "toy department," because sports journalists concern themselves with games rather than 'serious' topics like politics, crime, business, etc.

Sports journalism still may not be considered the most important product of a news media organization, but it is an essential product, and the sports journalism industry includes organizations devoted entirely to sports reportingmagazines such as Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News, all-sports talk radio stations, and sports television networks like ESPN — as well as many other news media that devote personnel and resources to covering sports. Sports teams are not very accommodating to sports journalists, but do allow them into locker rooms for interviews and some sports teams provide extensive information support, even if reporting it is unfavorable to them.

Sports journalists are like any other reporter, and they must find the story rather than simply relying on information given to them by the sports team, institution or coaching staff. Sports journalists must verify facts given to them by the teams and organizations they are covering, and this can become quite sticky just like a news reporter trying to verify information given to them by a political candidate for office. Oftentimes, coaches, players or sports organization management rescind sports journalists' access credentials in retaliation for printing accurate yet disparaging information about a team, player, coach or coaches, or organization.

Access for sports journalists is usually easier for professional and intercollegiate sports such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer. Access for sports journalists covering lower tier programs such as prep or high school sports is usually more difficult to go by. Most teams rely on secrecy and do not like information being reported in the paper or in other media. Also, high school coaches are also teachers, for the most part, and just don't have time to deal with reporters. Sports journalists face many obstacles in covering a given sport or team, just like news reporters face a multitude of obstacles on their respective beats.

Major League Baseball still gives many print journalists a special role in its baseball games: They are named official scorers and can make judgment calls about certain aspects of the score that do not affect the final disposition of the game.

Sports stories often transcend the games themselves and take on socio-political significance; Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball is an example of this. Modern controversies regarding the compensation of top athletes, the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, and the cost to local and national governments to build sports venues and related infrastructure, especially for the Olympic Games, show that sports still can intrude onto the news pages.

Sportswriters face much more deadline pressure than most other reporters, because sporting events tend to occur late in the day and closer to the deadlines many organizations must observe. Yet they are expected to use the same tools as news journalists, and to uphold the same professional and ethical standards. They often must be very careful about showing any bias for or against any home-town team. Sports journalists usually must also gather and use voluminous performance statistics for teams and individual athletes in most sports.

Many of the most talented and respected print journalists have been sportswriters. (See List of sports writers.)


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