• The sports beat is one of the most exciting in all of journalism. From
the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat, sports stories are all about
the all-too human drama of competition and courage. Here you can
learn about the different kinds of sports articles, see how to write a
basic game story, hear what a sports columnist's job is like and try
your hand at a sportswriting exercise.
• Getting a handle on sports writing can be daunting because there are
so many different kinds of stories that can be done. For the aspiring
sportswriter, these are some of the main types.
• straight-lead game story is the most basic story in all of sports
writing. It's just what it sounds like: an article about a game that uses
a straight-news type of lead. The lead summarizes the main points who won, who lost, the score, and what the star player did.
• Feature-lead game stories are common for pro sports. Readers usually
already know the score of pro games as soon as they're done, so
when they pick up a sports section they want stories they offer a
different angle on what happened and why.
• There are lots of different kinds of stories you can write on the sports
beat, but probably the most basic is the short game story.
• A short game story, usually 500 words or less, follows a
straightforward format that can be applied to any game you cover.
• The lead of your story should include the final score and some details
about what made the game interesting. Generally this means focusing
on the efforts of an individual player.
What to do…
• Have a strong lead. Like any article, you want to start your sports
article out with a strong lead, one that encapsulates the available
information on "who, what, where, when, why and how." This is basic
for how to write articles of any topic. Look at the articles in the Sports
section of nearly any newspaper to see how the author introduces
the game or event he is covering with his lead paragraph. Good sports
articles get the reader's attention with a strong but concise summary
of the story to follow.
• Also, note that a lead always places emphasis on an important or
interesting aspect of the story. For instance, a specific Boston Celtics
loss may, in itself, not be as significant or interesting as the fact it is
the fifteenth loss the team experienced in a row. The article would
tell the story of the game, but the lead would introduce the game
with the most important or interesting fact about it, that it's
continuing a horrible streak, and would expand on that fact in the
• Write clearly and concisely. If you've ever read Sports Illustrated, you
know that some sports articles can be what you might call "literary
non-fiction:" lengthy, poetic, filled with metaphor and digressions
into back story. If your particular assignment requires that kind of
writing, go for it. But if you read the daily sports section of your city
paper, you will also notice that most of the articles reporting on the
sporting events of the past day are concisely written. Yes, these
articles include context and metaphor and technical sports terms, -but they're also to the point and generally stick to basic vocabulary.
Being specific is one of the more basic tips for article writing.
• Know the context. You need to have a basic working knowledge of the
universe on which you're reporting. This may mean not only knowing all
about the current players, coaches and standings but knowing some
history, as well. This may be common knowledge to you, but if not, you
may need to do some research.
• You will also need to know about specific sports including rules, history,
league standings, current controversies and other information. You may
already know much of this if you're a sports enthusiast--but be aware that
a journalist may need more in-depth knowledge than a casual fan. Be sure
to have a solid grasp on the sport you're covering before you start to cover
• Also, keep in mind that many sports teams have press departments
that will provide journalists with extensive information about their
organizations including current players and team history.
• Give the major play-by-play. Obviously, there are hundreds of plays in any match
or game, and no article will include them all. Your job as a reporter is to report
the basic chronology--beginning, middle, and end, of the sporting event--with
details about the major moments: turning points, big plays, big mistakes,
momentum-builders. In other word, you're providing something of a verbal
highlight reel. This will mean you need to pay careful attention to who does what,
when during the event. You then must figure out which moments to include and
which to leave out. You have the advantage of hindsight when putting these
events together: "That shot turned out to be the fatal blow..."
• Your thorough understanding of the game and how it's played will also be
important when you are evaluating what events are key. You will also need to
connect the events smoothly as you help your audience to create a mental
picture of what happened.
• Use quotes as often as possible. Most sports news articles, no matter the
subject, include quotes from people involved. Most pro sports teams hold
post-game news conferences or speak to reporters in the locker room after
the game which gives you good information for writing sports articles.
• Asking good questions and collecting answers from players and coaches is
an important part of writing your article. Be prepared when approaching
your interview subject.
• Know what you're going to ask and listen to the answer--it may not be
what you expected to hear--and be conversant enough in the subject to
have a good follow-up question, no matter what the answer ends up being.
Incorporate these quotes into the body of your article.
• Check your facts. Again, like regular news articles an article about a
sporting event or a newsworthy event in the world of sports must
correctly present the facts. Sporting events usually generate a lot of
statistics. They can also be very fast-paced, involve tons of different
players, and follow rules you might need to double-check if you're
going to reference them. A clean, concise sports article will have its
•To report well on a sport, you must
know the sport thoroughly.
•Check your facts: Sports involve many
people, stats and technicalities.
How To Write a Sports Report In 4
•Intro – the most important news aspect
of a sports game is the score. Who won?
How did they win and what effect did
the victory have?
•2. More info – The above is enough for
those who have a passing interest in the
sport. However, fans would want more
information and you could give it to
them in one or two paragraphs.
•3. Quote – This is where you can provide
a quote from the coach or a key player
from both teams. You can precede each
saying with a lead-in paragraph or go
straight into the quote.
•4. The rest – Once you got the main
information and key quotes out of the
way, you can go on to describe the
game. Even better would be to describe
just one or two plays and include more
The thinking behind sports articles is that
people would have watched the game on
TV anyway and would not want boring
game description. Therefore, quotes from
the people who matter, such as athletes
and coaches, would offer better reading
7 Basic Skills Needed to Work in
• 1. Broad Understanding of Sports Business
• Different leagues and entities within sports operate just like any other
business. Accordingly, sports writers must have a general
understanding of how sports work as businesses in order to
thoroughly complete a given assignment. In sports, there are
marketing, finance, public relations, communications, sales, legal,
sponsorship and several other departments. A given story can cover
any of the given disciplines. For instance, a writer covering a story
about the implication of a league lockout will have to understand how
a lockout legally affects both sides but also understand how it affects
sales, public relations and other aspects of the league’s business.
• 2. Actual Industry Knowledge
• Before writing about a certain sport or a certain topic within sports,
writers need to have in-depth industry knowledge about that
particular sport or topic. Simply put, if a writer is confused or unclear
about a given topic, the reader likely will be too. In addition to
knowing background information, writers should also know sports
lingo and terminology. Aspiring sports writers should also make sure
that they continually strive to maintain current industry knowledge
• 3. Research Skills
• Though some may live for the sensationalism and gossip perpetrated
in sports media, a good writer should know how to find out all of the
real facts that make up a particular sports story. Instead of
speculating or developing theories, writers should complete the
appropriate research on a given topic before going to press. If the
story involves a particular court case, actually find court documents
to support what the article discusses. If the story involves business
projections, look for certain market data. Use due diligence to ensure
that everything written is true and correct.
• 4. Ability to Connect With Sports Fans
• Every writer writes for a particular audience. Whether that audience
consists of sports fans in general, sports fans of a particular sport or
sports professionals, the writer must keep this in mind. An article,
column or blog should read in a way that not only keeps readers
interested in a particular story but also keeps readers wanting to read
more of that writer’s stories. A lot of sports fans have favorite
bloggers, columnists and broadcasters that they follow to get their
daily sports news. Sports writers should strive to develop a loyal
following of readers.
• 5. Creativity
• When readers find interest in a particular topic, they may peruse
various articles and columns about the same topic. The audience that
sports writers cater to want to read about more than one opinion and
see the same topic from various angles. Regardless of their position
on a particular topic, the readers enjoy the competition and debate
sparked by sports. When writing about a particular topic, a writer
should hold true to their viewpoint while presenting the information
in a creative manner at the same time. Avoid following the opinions
of fellow sports writers just because and feel free to embrace
• 6. Basic Command of the English Language
• Regardless if you write for the Wall Street Journal or if you write for
your own personal blog, possessing strong writing skills is a MUST. In
2013, sports news breaks on smaller blogs, Twitter and Facebook just
as often as it breaks on major sports websites. With news breaking
so quickly, a lot of sports writers put out stories with typos and poor
grammar. Take the time to get back to the basics and ensure that
every article exhibits the best possible grammar, punctuation and
• 7. Familiarity with Current Style
• When publishing articles, writers must take heed to the proper
formatting guidelines used across the industry.
• Even though a writer can state the same idea several different ways,
the stylebook specifies which rules writers need to use when writing
for magazines, newspapers and other broadcasting mediums. Sports
writers should become familiar with current style from the sector and
from the news organization they work for.
Five boxes is an efficient way to organize
information, especially on a deadline. This is
effective for sport news writing.
Image, detail, draws
4. BBI: boring but
2. Nut graf:
3. Re-telling: retell
story begun in the
Porsche Farr in Sports Media
Scanlan, C. (2000). Reporting and Writing: Basics for the 21st century. New
York: Oxford University Press.