Know the Basics
Each sport has its own unique followers, customs, and jargon. You will need to have a basic understanding of that when writing an article. You want to talk to the readers using terms they understand, but don’t overdo it, either. Just make sure you use the most common terms for each sport. For example, in a football article, don’t say “made a goal,” say, “touchdown.” To get a handle on the essential points, listen to broadcasts and read articles for the sport you are covering. You want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, and the best way to do that is to learn as much as possible about the sport you’re covering. Make sure you understand the most fundamental rules of the game. Know how it is played and who the key players are.
Recap the Game
Many of the people who are reading your article are people who missed the game. Never assume that anyone reading your article already saw what happened; you want to recap the highlights of the game for them. Focus on key plays and turning points in the game. Retell the most exciting parts, the game changing plays, and the winning moves. You don’t have to include every minute detail, but give a basic progression of the game from beginning to end, spotlighting what was most important and interesting.
Broaden Your Scope
A sport isn’t just about the game itself. It’s also about the fans, players and coaches. Look off the field for other important details, such a description of the crowd or the role of the coach. Also, provide insight about how this one game fits into the whole season. Was it a good example of how the team usually performs or not? What does a win or loss mean for the possibility of a championship? Are any specific team members making significant improvements in their game? Try to find meaning in the sport, and remember that it is important to your readers. They want a meaningful analysis.
Writing about sports isn’t just writing about last night’s game. There is also a lot of opportunity for feature writing. You can write profiles on players and coaches and even fans themselves. Here you can give personality and depth to key figures. Really introduce your readers to them by giving details about their life outside of sports and lively quotes that show their personalities.
Don’t Stray Too Far
While writing for the sports section is very different, it is still writing for the newspaper (or magazine, broadcast, etc.), so don’t go too off track. Remember to use the correct style and voice of your publication, and AP Style if appropriate. Include all the necessary elements, like the who, what, where, when, and why (not just the how). Continue to utilize your go-to spell and grammar checker, like a trusted program or your editor, so there aren’t any basic mistakes.
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Written by Susan Wright
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