Manage your time well and cover high school sports

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So, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything for this site. We journalists do get busy sometimes. Especially for students when those two or three weeks of the semester come around where everything collides together and you find yourself wasting time just trying to work out a schedule. I was there last week. Exams, stories and assignments become due within 48 hours of each other. And you still have to deal with the daily responsibilities that come with living on your own.

That’s why I want to stress the importance of time management. For a normal student, it’s a little easier working out a study schedule. But you’re a journalism student, which means you have to create a study schedule and use your free time working on stories and getting published. This gets trickier when you have to manage your time around the schedules of your sources. Don’t set a specific time for anything , unless it is something like an interview appointment. Just tell yourself, ‘I need to get this done before this time.’ A great way to do this is by using a daily checklist. Be careful not overload yourself though and give everything on your list a priority rating (high or low).

Sacrificing free time is part of the business, so you’d better love the job. With sports in particular, you will have to sacrifice a Saturday or a Sunday or maybe an entire weekend. After all, those are the days in which football is played and baseball and basketball generally see quite a few weekend games as well. Using an example outside of sports, two Alligator writers gave up their Saturday to cover a gay rights protest at the Gainesville city hall, but they came away with two excellent, well-reported stories; good enough to use for job interviews.

Despite what I’ve said, don’t completely give up your “me” time. I love watching movies and playing videogames and I try to do a little of both each week. Being a journalist requires a switch that you have to flip on and off. And while that switch is on for a long time, you still have to recharge your batteries.

On a side note, I’ve been covering high school football for the Gainesville Sun and I’m here to tell you, yes, it is the hardest sport to cover. No contest. Standing on the sidelines for over three hours while trying to keep your own stats, paying close attention to the game, and thinking about who to interview and what to ask them, all at the same time, and then meeting an 11:15 p.m. deadline, is as tough as it gets.

However, I recommend to all who want to be sports writers to cover high school sports. You’ll be learning to swim by throwing yourself right into the deep end. And it’s a great experience to have when your hunting for your first job. As far as tips for covering games go, I used this very blog for guidance and it’s helped.

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