Writing sports articles


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Writing sports articles

  1. 1. Writing Sports Articles by Jimi Kayode 1
  2. 2. • 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. 2
  3. 3. • 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 The 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. 3
  4. 4. • 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. 4
  5. 5. 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. 5
  6. 6. • 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 article. 6
  7. 7. • 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. 7
  8. 8. • 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 it. 8
  9. 9. • 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. 9
  10. 10. • 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. 10
  11. 11. • 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. 11
  12. 12. • 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 facts straight. 12
  13. 13. Quick Tips: •To report well on a sport, you must know the sport thoroughly. •Check your facts: Sports involve many people, stats and technicalities. 13
  14. 14. How To Write a Sports Report In 4 Steps •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? 14
  15. 15. •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. 15
  16. 16. •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. 16
  17. 17. •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 quotes. 17
  18. 18. 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 value. 18
  19. 19. 7 Basic Skills Needed to Work in Sports Writing • 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. 19
  20. 20. • 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 and trends. 20
  21. 21. • 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. 21
  22. 22. • 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. 22
  23. 23. • 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 originality. 23
  24. 24. • 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 word usage. 24
  25. 25. • 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. 25
  26. 26. Five boxes is an efficient way to organize information, especially on a deadline. This is effective for sport news writing. 1. Lead Image, detail, draws in reader. 4. BBI: boring but important statistics/experts’ opinions 2. Nut graf: Provides context 3. Re-telling: retell story begun in the first box. 5. Kicker: Strong, interesting ending; quote; image. 26
  27. 27. references Porsche Farr in Sports Media • http://www.sportsnetworker.com/2013/01/28/7-basic-skills-neede-towork-in-sports-writing/ Nazvi Careem • http://searchwarp.com/swa144083.htm B. Danesco • http://www.howtodothings.com/hobbies/a4594-how-to-write-a-sportsarticle.html Scanlan, C. (2000). Reporting and Writing: Basics for the 21st century. New York: Oxford University Press. 27