Job Description of a Sports Media Interpreter

Sports media interpreters need to be respectful of different cultures.
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In such a diverse world, it's impossible to expect everyone in any given field or even location to speak the same language. If language barriers exist or basic understanding of a topic is limited, interpreters can open the lines of communication. When communication at a sporting event is difficult due to differences in language, sports media interpreters deliver information.

Bridging a Gap

    Although most usually think of interpreters as those found at schools, conferences, and hospitals to bridge a gap between cultures and language, they are also found in the sports industry. Interpreters translate information from one language to another language so the recipient of the message can understand. Similar to traditional interpreters and translators, sports media interpreters are responsible for relaying important information to teammates or members of the media in a language that is easy for them to understand. One example is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hire a sports interpreter to work with Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

Knowing the Sport

    Sports interpreters need to be more than multilingual. They also need to be familiar with the sport they are translating. Many sports have lingo that is industry specific. Unless the interpreter is familiar with the terminology, mistakes and miscommunication may happen. In addition to the terminology, sports media interpreters must understand current stats, history, rules and personality of the athletes to be successful.

Background Information

    The educational requirements for interpreters vary. However, most require at least a bachelor's degree and fluency in at least one other language. Sports media interpreters often require specialized training due to the intricate details associated with sports. Some interpreters go as far as acquiring a certification from different organizations or a master's degree. Those with advanced education can look forward to a bright future in the sports interpreter field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the interpreter industry will grow 46 percent between 2012 and 2022. The predicted increase is due mostly to the large numbers of non-English speaking people moving to the United States. Many professional sports organizations are also encouraging teams to employ sports interpreters, as the number of foreign players signing on U.S. teams increases.

Primary Responsibilities

    Because a sports media interpreter's main role is to relay information to players, she must be available at all times to get that information. This means sports media interpreters must attend all meetings, practices, press conferences and even interviews. It also means interpreters must also stay up to date with things going on in the industry and pertinent rules. An interpreter's ability to provide players with information can drastically impact a game. Without the interpreter being present, players who speak a different language may be confused and struggle greatly. Interpreters may also manage schedules, compile information and take notes for a player's reference.

Secondary Responsibilities

    Interpreting during sporting events isn't the only thing sports media interpreters are responsible for. Some sports interpreters are called on to assist with confusing phone calls or help players complete other routine tasks during the day. It's not uncommon for sports media interpreters to help players buy groceries or even order food at restaurants. Because interpreters work so closely with foreign players and gain access to personal information, building a player's trust is very important.

Necessary Skills

    Because of the diverse nature of the job, sports media interpreters must have cultural sensitivity. They must also have good concentration in order to focus on what coaches are saying and accurately translate it to the players. Equally important are interpersonal and communication skills so they can get along well with others and effectively deliver a message.

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