Learn How to Behave in the Press Box

learn how to behave in the press boxAs a media member getting credentials for a live sports event is one of the gifts of your job. With a simple team issued picture ID hanging from your neck, you are granted access to some of the best seats in the house to soak up the sights, sounds and action on the field of play.

While it is your job to be there, there are many worse places you could be and I guarantee there are thousands who would gladly switch places with you.

But it isn't all fun and games.

You will be acting as an ambassador for your company, so proper behavior is essential to make yourself and your company look professional.

Most sports journalism etiquette is unwritten and reporters pick it up over time with game experience, usually in the form of glaring looks from your fellow media members. Break any of the rules we're about to outline and you can rest assured some seasoned journalist will give you the evil eye.

You don’t want to be left in the dark if you have never covered an event before, so here are a few tips to help you look like a veteran reporter in the press box.

Proper Attire

It will depend on what level and which sport you are covering to determine your wardrobe for the game, but in most settings business casual attire will suffice, meaning no t-shirts.

General rule of thumb - for the guys, wear something with a collar, for the ladies, wear something that exudes I'm here to work.

If you are going to be outside in the heat or walking a lot, you can wear comfortable clothes just make sure you still look professional. You should not wear any of the home or visiting teams apparel and in some places they do not even want you to wear the same colors.

You want to be recognized as a professional member of the media and not a fan.

Professional Attitude

When you are in the press box, act in a professional manner, meaning you can’t cheer for either team.

It doesn’t matter if you are covering your favorite team in the championship game, there is no clapping or cheering. You can get kicked out of the press box for acting like a fan.

As a reporter, you should never ask to take a picture with a player or ask for their autograph. Most places have a zero tolerance policy for autographs, so you can get kicked out of the game as well as get reprimanded from your employer. 

Locker Room Behavior

A player’s locker room is their home away from home and you should be respectful when you are in it. They have their personal belongings here - pictures, clothes, jewelry - this is their area, not yours, they are letting you visit.

You should not come into the locker room giving high fives or fist bumps, because you want to continue to remain impartial. The players are not your close personal friends, you are doing your job and should work in a professional manner.

Players often have routines after a game, so be aware if someone will talk to you right away or if they need to shower and change first. If there is a player you want to interview, approach them confidently and introduce yourself with your affiliation.

Let them know how much time you need and see if they will talk to you.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

If they have time, make sure you have your questions prepared and be ready to record their answers right away. Some reporters are granted one-on-one time with players beforehand for feature stories, so don’t interrupt them in the middle of their conversation.

Patiently wait until you can talk with them or talk to other players until you can get to your target.

Press Conferences

Famous professional athletes, those in the highest demand, usually go to a press conference after the game where reporters can ask a variety of questions.

You will probably not get any one-on-one time with them, because there are many reporters in the same room, so be aggressive during the conference. If you are timid and shy, you will not get to ask your questions and will have to settle for quotes from another reporter’s inquiry.

As a reporter you want to remain impartial in your writing and while you are in the press box. If you are ever unsure about how a certain event or interview session is suppose to work make sure to ask the sports information director, public relations staff or another reporter at the event.

It is better to know the information ahead of time than to walk into a stadium unsure of where to go.

By Audrey Willis | July 07, 2017
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