Every day, from early morning until late at night, the Superior School of Sports Journalism in Buenos Aires is packed. And most of its 600 students hope to spend their working lives covering sports.
For years, Roberto Bermudez has been teaching in the ornate mansion that houses the school.
"Many have been frustrated athletes, whom I always tell, 'Here we don't make athletes, we make journalists. You have the opportunity to be a journalist,' " Bermudez says.
And in Argentina, where the people are mad for sports, and soccer in particular, there are plenty of opportunities for sportswriters and broadcasters, which has spawned an educational industry of sorts.
While a big U.S. city like Chicago may have two baseball teams, Buenos Aires and its suburbs have a dozen first division soccer clubs, each with its own stadium, fan base and radio station. Then there's pro basketball, horse racing, the tennis circuit and even professional volleyball.
Bermudez says it's an environment that's helped the sports-reporting schools flourish.
"I do not know if there is any other place in the world where there are so many schools," Bermudez says of the sports-reporting academies.
A Dozen Academies
Indeed, in Buenos Aires alone there are about a dozen such institutions. Each year they churn out hundreds of sportswriters, broadcasters, camera operators, Web designers and sports analysts.
In Juan Carlos Peralta's popular class, the focus is on the intricacies of soccer: the strategies, the plays, how defense is played and goals are scored. Peralta is a perfect teacher — he still plays professional soccer for a club just outside Buenos Aires. He's also a graduate of the school.
"I try to use my experience as a player to teach the kids, and from my experience working with different coaches and teams in my sports career," Peralta says. "I teach them the basic concepts of soccer and so that they learn how to watch soccer."
The central idea at the school is to teach students to cover every aspect of sports — to write up game summaries fast and photograph the big play, and also to work as play-by-play men, the guys who have that distinctive way of announcing a gooooooaaaaaaal!
On a recent night at the school, the focus of a mock sports radio program is on the delivery of sports news with peppy banter.
Diego Galanternik, 20, does it with verve, talking about the latest in the soccer world. Like a lot of the students, he's been crazy about sports since boyhood — so crazy about it that he's a reserve on a professional soccer club.
"My family always said to me, soccer isn't everything because those who get to the top are so few," says Galanternik. "And so I had to be prepared for something else in my life."
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