Earlier this week, Peter Burns asked whether Jim Nantz had the best job in all of the sports media.
Nantz does have a solid lineup of sporting events to cover. Though, to truly answer this question, one has to factor in income per effort expended, travel, and other associated logistical and lifestyle concerns. With those factored in, here are my five best jobs in sports media.
NFL Pregame Show Analyst
This position offers the most revenue for least effort. NFL pregame analysts get paid quite well. They are flown in for a couple days of work during the season, which lasts a few months per year. You can cultivate a great tan. You can be an active grandparent. Platitudes and chuckling take you a long way. There’s a reason Bill Cowher never went back to NFL coaching.
It’s a few hours per day. You can do it remotely while staying at the vacation home. You earn enough money to afford a vacation home. TV takes more prep on the back end than radio. But, with the crisp PTI format, it’s easier to work up quick A-material about a topic than to talk about it in depth or to write about it. Well-oiled, competent production. One has time to pursue other projects, or just enjoy life.
Pope-Level Radio Host
Talking for hours takes talent. Building a following takes effort. But, once you reach a certain level, the work is lucrative, the hours are regular, and travel is minimal and voluntary. Your producers do a lot of the preparation and leg work. Being interesting is more important than being right. You can negotiate a lot of autonomy. Knowing what conference Maryland is in? Optional.
Pontificating Celebrity Newspaper Columnist
The thing about writing three 800-word columns per week? Few people can do a great job at it. Quite a few can do a quite decent job at it given that much latitude. The money is nice, so is the quasi-celebrity status, the time to pursue other also-lucrative projects, and not having to go to the actual games. Already an endangered species, this job will soon be extinct. With tight media budgets, it’s better to invest in multiple people willing to do windows.
Being Wright Thompson
Living the dream. Wright Thompson gets to live in a college town, to track down interesting stories, and to produce elegant, well-crafted prose while embodying all things writer. If he’s gracing a sporting event with his presence, it’s the Masters, the World Cup, or some other plum event. Sure, things get stressful at deadlines, once every month or so. Wright doesn’t even have to be on Twitter.
Honorable Mention: Sports Blogger
The money isn’t great. The hours can be a bear. That said, there’s no commute, I very seldom have to interact with other human beings, I work a significant portion of the year from my back porch, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been obligated to wear pants for work since moving back to Michigan. It could be worse.