How to Write a Sports Article Ann Arbor MI

Any sports writer would say that sports writing may be one of the most exciting in the field of journalism. However, any other writer may disagree.

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How to Write a Sports Article

Any sports writer would say that sports writing may be one of the most exciting in the field of journalism. However, any other writer may disagree. They might say that sports writing is difficult, due to the required understanding of the rules and concepts of the sports, as well as the required skill needed in order to summarize an hour-long game (or longer) into a usual news article (or shorter).

However, many people do not realize that sports writing is no different from your usual news or feature writing. Of course, the required understanding and knowledge of the sport may seem like a big roadblock to hurdle. But otherwise, writing a sports article about the LA Lakers and Miami Heat game is no different from writing a news article about the Presidential elections or a simple petty crime in a small community. A sports article uses the same template and concepts, and it certainly requires good writing and great analytical skills.

Guide to sports writing

So how does a good sports writing work?

Needless to say, a news sports article works like your usual news article. This means that, when writing a sports article, you need to follow the inverted pyramid rule. As with your usual news article, people only read the first third of a news sports writing, no matter how amazingly it was written. In fact, the need for the use of the inverted pyramid is more evident in news sports writing because people only usually want to know about the result of the game (the score and who won) and, usually, the key or defining moments that changed the game and determined its result.

This only means, when working on news sports writing, that you should position the key points on the first paragraphs of the story. Many sports writers surprisingly tend to forget to include the league being covered (this is important when writing a college sports story) and where and when the game was held. These are important; remember that, in essence, you are still covering an event. And event news stories require these facts.

Basic journalism manuals state that your lead and lead paragraphs could merely include the game’s results (together with the event details; specifically the Who, the What, the When, and the Where of the story), top players’ statistics and comments from the coach and the players. Of course, this works; but a key sporting tip here is to write these facts in an eloquent manner. Do not make it appear as if you are only rattling facts; otherwise, your readers might simply look at game statistics next time.

The sports writing template

As with news writing, there is a template for sports writing. The first part of a news sports writing article is the lead, followed by the nut. The nut introduces the conflict of the story. One of the more important sports writing tips is this: sports writing is not just a presentation of facts. Like any form of writing, it is a form of storytelling. Only, here, the story you are telling is in the form of a game—and that doesn’t mean the story is void of conflict, which is essential the most crucial part of any story.

For instance, many university sports writer would use the standing of their school or the opposing school as the main conflict of the story. School A is the lowest ranking school in the basketball league, with not even a single win this season. Yet, they managed to win against School B, a high ranking school. This is a good conflict. Or the writer an state how School A had a 20 point lead during the first half, but the team’s poor defense helped School B score point after point. The writer can focus on the performance of a single player, saying how his 12-point run during the last six minutes of the first half helped School A maintain the lead.

The key here is look for a conflict or, more specifically, an angle. Interviews with players and the coaches can help cement that angle. In fact, at this day and age, interviews and everything else that goes beyond the facts are necessarily in sports writing, since one can easily look at a sports website to check out the score.

Sports writing tips

But what about sports writing in general? How can a writer go about writing about sports?

The key to great sports writing is simple: understanding the sports. This is imperative, the same way a political writer should know and understand how the workings of government and society go about, or how a business writer understands stocks exchange and other issues relevant to business (a number of business journalists are economics majors). Of course, at first, all you need to do is understand the game and its rules and its objectives, know the players and the teams, know a little about their history, their performance, and so on. As you go on writing about sports, you need to delve deeper. Your knowledge will inform your writing. This stock knowledge can also help put your story in context, helping you find an effective angle.

As a greenhorn sports writer, you may think that sports terminologies are important. But that is not necessarily the case. You need to retire hackneyed terms and use general terms instead. You may think you’re using smart and witty terms, but you’re probably using some cliché expressions instead. Unless it is informed with current references, the usual expressions have probably been used to death. A game has been compared to a war millions of times. A player has be walloped countless of tines. “Nothing but net” has been overused ever since the 80s. These expressions will make your writing weak. However, you can (and should, when necessary) use jargons.

The usual writing tips, of course, work as sports writing tips too. Sports writing is just like any other writing. It uses facts as foundation and it requires your analysis to make it more colorful.