If you have a love and knowledge of various sports and a knack for writing, becoming a sports beat writer may be a great career choice for you. A college degree may be able to send you up the ladder quicker, but there's no teacher quite as good as experience. Many small newspaper editors would be happy to help you get your foot in the door.
Get a journalism degree. This isn't necessary, but it may help you land that first job more quickly. If you don't have a degree, take some journalism classes and brush up on your grammar skills before you start looking for a job.
Build a resume by stringing and writing. Most editors will want to see clips of your previous work. You may have to write a few articles for publications or websites for no pay, but it's worth it sometimes to get the clips if you haven't been able to obtain a paying gig.
Contact the sports editor of your local newspaper and ask if there are any positions open for a sports beat stringer. A stringer is someone who freelances for a newspaper, but isn't a staff member. This is a great way to learn the ropes and prove yourself as a good sports beat writer, which may lead to a full-time position.
Inquire about an internship at your favorite sports publication. This may or may not pay, but the experience you'll gain is priceless.
Learn to take sports photos. Many sports writers wear two hats; one of beat reporter and one of photographer. Most colleges offer photography courses, or sometimes you can learn on the job from a professional.
Check online employment boards, such as Journalism Jobs or Media Bistro regularly to see what jobs are listed in your area (see Resources below).