Video: The Unwritten Rules of the Sports Media

Early in my sports television career I stepped in many, many pot holes. Some would call them rookie mistakes and while I agree there is a level of ‘learning by fire’ that takes place in the sports industry, it still would have been nice if someone warned me just a little.

Heck, it would have saved me from some truly cringe-worthy moments.

And that is the idea for this video post, consider it your heads up to some of the unwritten rules in the sports media – things you shouldn’t do, but may not even think about until it’s too late. If you think this video can be helpful to others in your network, please share on social media!

Video Transcript for “The Unwritten Rules of the Sports Media”

Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and 15 year veteran of the sports media:

Baseball is a sport inundated with unwritten rules.

You can bunt during a no hitter, you can’t cheer after a home run because you are showing up the pitcher…the list goes on and on and on.

The sports media is actually very similar – there is a huge list of unwritten rules of the sports media that you need to abide by and we’re going to go over a few of them today.

Unwritten Rules of the Sports Media #1: No Cheering in the Press Box

When you are in the press box it is an office essentially, everyone in there is working on tasks and assignments. If it turns into a sports bar type environment, it is distracting and it makes people really angry.

So just don’t do it.

sports media jobs sports bradcasting jobs

I can speak to this from personal experience, because in Michael Vick’s rookie year I was in the press box at the Georgia Dome and he made an incredible play. I got all excited and jumped up and was like WHOA! At the top of my lungs.

I swear it was like the music stopped and the room stared at me, I felt like such a rookie, and I was, I made a rookie mistake and I was asked to leave…which was really embarrassing considering I had to go back to my bosses and tell them I got kicked out of the press box for cheering.

Just don’t do it.

Unwritten Rules of the Sports Media #2: Never Date Players

This isn’t a problem that I had to deal with personally, I have no persnaly experience…but I know people I worked with that we’re… at least tempted let’s say.

It causes a huge conflict of interest:

  • You can’t report on someone in an unbiased fashion that you are dating
  • If bad news comes out about them you are going to shy away from it
  • If you find out something, maybe you shouldn’t, you aren’t going to report on it
  • If you break up, it’s going to make things awkward in the locker room not just with that player, but with others

There are so many problems, your bosses do not want you to do it, matter of fact many contracts have lines in them about dating players as a reason for dismissal.

Perfect example, Jenny Dell sideline reporter for the Red Sox on NESN (New England Sports Network) recently acknowledged that she was dating third baseman Will Middlebrooks and she was reassigned, and later dismissed.

There was really no choice that NESN had but to reassign her, so if you want your career to keep going up…don’t date players.

Unwritten Rules of the Sports Media #3: Never ask for Autographs from Players

When you are in the sports media and you are talking to athletes, whether you are a reporter, a camera operator, an audio operator…or even in the ticket booth, security or public relations, athletes believe they are in a safe place when they are conducting an interview or at the stadium or wherever you might interact with them.

They aren’t out at a mall or in a restaurant or some other public place, they are in what they believe is a safe place.

If you alter that by asking for an autograph or something of that nature – you will be fired.

Security guards for the Houston Texans were fired this year for asking Tom Brady for an autograph after a game, this is just a fact. Don’t ask for autographs.

I’ve been in situations where I am meeting huge iconic sports stars like Joe Montana, Shaquille O’Neal or Magic Johnson and I’m thinking oh my god this is so cool! But you can’t let it be, because you are on the job and you have a job to do.

These are just a few of the unwritten rules of the sports media, but trust me they are one’s you want to live by.

Do you have stories of mistakes you’ve made in the sports media? Question about other unwritten rules of the sports media? Put them in the comments below!

unwritten rules of the sports media

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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  1. William Thompson says

    How do a person like my self get in to ref pro football

  2. Why is there nothing that pertains to motor sports announcing? Motor sports is huge both nationally and on the local level, I’m sure alot of the situations carry over but it would be nice to hear from a motor sports commentator to get their take on how to do things…

    • Hey Terry – Motorsports are huge! Did you get the impression we don’t care about motorsports? I’ll look into interviewing someone from the motor sports world soon… good feedback, I appreciate it! – Brian