BY AUSTIN KOELLER
KEARNEY – Students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney now have an opportunity to focus on sports journalism and mass communication as part of a new major.
The Department of Communication began offering a sports communication major at UNK this academic year, which focuses on preparing students for various careers in the sports industry.
“They move from working in broadcasting, to working in print and online, to working for the industry,” said Ralph Hanson, professor and chair of communication. “They’re going from being reporters, to broadcasters, to marketing communications.
“What we decided to do is put together a major that would give people the skills to not only be dealing with sports, but also to deal with the movement between.”
The Department of Communication previously offered a major in sports communication. It followed standard journalism curriculum with a few sports administration classes thrown in, but faculty felt it was not a specialized sports major.
After hearing from students who wished to pursue a career in sports, the department revised its curriculum and revived the sports communication major to meet student needs.
“They wanted to have something with a little more sports broadcasting background,” Hanson said. “People were also very interested in sports writing. This was something we were hearing about from students, that they wanted to have.”
Students working toward the sports communication major are required to take classes in communication and journalism. They take courses in writing and design, as well as classes in small group communication and leadership.
The department also has created three new courses that are offshoots of existing courses.
A new section of Writing for the Media is offered as Sports Writing for the Media. Hanson said the class is held concurrently with Writing for the Media, but assignments are sports oriented. Additional new courses offered are Radio Workshop: Sports, a class focused on sports talk radio and play-by-play announcing, and a sports section of The Antelope newspaper staff.
For those wishing to pursue a major in sports communication, Hanson suggests minoring or double majoring in sports administration.
“One of the things we didn’t like about the old major was that it threw in one or two sports administration classes. It wasn’t enough to give them that background,” he said. “We think that a minor or double major will take them a lot further with that if that is the route they choose to go.”
Hanson said the new major is an exciting one that goes after what the department wants to do well – giving students skills needed to succeed in the future.
“Instead of saying, ‘We’re preparing you for this specific career,’ we are preparing them for things that may or may not even exist right now.”