Screen Shots: So you want to be a sportswriter…

I get a number of inquiries, on a regular basis, from teenagers and 20-somethings interested in becoming hockey journalists. But while it’s terribly nice to know I work in a business so many people want to be a part of, I get the sense few of those folks have any idea about the less-than-glamorous realities of the job.

With that in mind, I’ve designed a brief questionnaire any aspiring hockey writer can take to help them decide whether this might be the right direction for them. So break out your No. 2 pencils and take the “So You Think You Want To Be A Sportswriter” multiple-choice test! (Answers at the bottom.)

1. I want to enter the sports writing field because:
(a) I’m looking to make Miley Cyrus kind of money
(b) Dickie Dunn was far and away my favorite character in Slap Shot
(c) It’s either this or The Army
(d) I get a kick out of having my every opinion dissected, demeaned and dismissed

2. When I’m in a dressing room waiting for sweaty, half-naked players to put on some clothes and speak to my fellow reporters and I, my default facial expression will be:
(a) This
(b) This
(c) This
(d) This

3. I love rote, never-ending streams of clichés like:
(a) A cliché Frankenstein built from the combined DNA of Joe Sakic, Jacques Martin and Jay Bouwmeester
(b) Every GM who ever GMed (other than Brian Burke)
(c) Dan Ellis after his experience on Twitter
(d) Fox News loves book-learnin’

4. The caption “-30-” represents:
(a) The age at which all hockey writers instantly gain the respect and admiration of NHLers and GMs
(b) The percentage of hockey-related revenue NHL team owners want to allot to players in the next collective bargaining agreement
(c) A new emoticon that’s the talk of the Internet, mostly because nobody can figure out what the frig it is
(d) The end. The sweet, sweet end

5. Had I the chance to interview NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, I would be sure to:
(a) Put a spare shoe in my briefcase before I left home, so I wouldn’t have to make the return commute wearing only one
(b) Inquire as to whether he’d be willing to show me “the mark of the beast” on the back of his neck
(c) Bring along Jim Balsillie in an effort to bridge the Palestinian/Israeli-like gap in good relations between the two
(d) Be respectful and courteous, but cynical as hell

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6. Had I the chance to interview (eventually) incoming NHLPA boss Donald Fehr, I would be sure to:
(a) Keep an eye out for any open vials of androstenedione
(b) Have him hypnotized and then convinced to negotiate and sign a new CBA while I was in his office
(c) Wag my finger at him for the outrageous competitive imbalance in Major League Baseball
(d) Be respectful and courteous, but cynical as hell

7. True or False: Hockey belongs to Canada.
(a) True – why, who’s asking? Some stinkin’ rotten European?
(b) True, although the game currently is in the process of being bought by NBC Universal
(c) True. Well, not really, but if I repeat it to myself often enough, eventually I’ll believe it
(d) False – and shame on you for even suggesting such an untruth

8. Complete the following statement: The NHL will have a second franchise in Southern Ontario ______________. 
(a) When Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment purchases a second one
(b) Once the league folds each and every one of its U.S. teams
(c) Following the formation of an exciting new ownership group comprised of Bruce McNall, Sanjay Kumar, William Del Biaggio and Norm Green
(d) Immediately after Paul Anka and Justin Bieber collaborate on a smash-hit dubstep remix of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Answers: If you answered anything but (d) for any question, run, don’t walk, to any other field of employment you can find.

Follow Adam’s hockey tweets at, and his non-hockey observations at

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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