Some people dismiss sports as frivolous and unimportant. It isn’t.
Dating back to the Greeks, sports has been a part of every civilized society. The game is a great socializing agent, and the games we play help us define who we are and what’s important in society.
Today we spent loads and time and devote enormous amounts of money to sports. Children are encouraged to participate in sports. Collegiate and professional sports provide the fulltime occupation for many people and generate tremendous revenue for the local economies.
So, no matter what our personal attitudes are toward sports, it cannot be dismissed as unimportant.
Many aspiring young journalists, particularly males, want to cover sports. And why not? Sporting events are interesting and exciting, and sports personalities have great charisma.
But these young journalists should know that being a great sports fan does not make you a great – or even good – sports reporter.
Sports reporting, even with its moments of excitement, is often dull, tedious, difficult and time consuming. It requires great knowledge of the games, their rules and their participants. Sporting events demand attention from sports reporters even when they are dull or when the outcome is known long before the contest actually ends.
Sports reporters have to stick around after a sporting event, even though their friends might be out celebrating or bemoaning the outcome. Sports reports have to cover these events objectively even when the team they favor loses. Sports reporters have to ask difficult questions of those they might support or like.
Covering the sports event
The best way to begin learning about sports journalism is to cover and report on a sports event. Your high school or local area undoubtedly has plenty of these events, so finding one won’t be hard.
The first duty of the sports journalist is to prepare: Find out everything you can about the event, the players and teams and the meaning of the game itself. Make contact with those who are in charge of the game, and if it is more than a local softball game or something of that nature, there may be an area that is designated for reporters.
Will the participants be available to be interviewed after the game is completed? Sports reporters that simply describing the event is inadequate to their complete reporting efforts, and they often want to talk to the participants. Collegiate and professional make provision for this by having athletes and coaches hold post-game press conferences. Reporters need to prepare for these by having a list of questions about the contest or other relevant matters.
Another consideration in covering an event is to find out whether or not there is an area dedicated for journalists to watch the contest. Many stadiums have a press box, but these require special passes or tickets, and reporters have to make arrangements to get these well before the contest. Also, reporters should understand that some teams and sports put restrictions on the coverage of an event while it is taking place. If broadcast rights to a game have been sold, for instance, it is unlikely that a reporter can do any live streaming of video during the game.
Finally, reporters who cover a sporting event should have an idea of what they will write and how they will describe the game. They can do this even if they do not know the outcome. Good reporters will write some of their stories during the game, and the demands of the web for constant updates may require reporters to write about parts of the game as they occur. Live sports streaming is always available at livesport.center/bt-sport-tv-guide/.
A game report should include:
- The outcome or final score, usually within the first paragraph or two of the article.
- The key points of the game that will give the flavor of the contest to the reader.
- A description of the players who made a difference in the outcome and what they did.
- Any unusual aspect of the contest itself – a record that was broken or an unusual or spectacular play that was made, even if it had nothing to do with the outcome.
- Quotations or explanations, if possible, from the players and coaches. These should be relevant to the game itself.
- A minimum of opinion and colorful description and a maximum of information.
- A minimum (or none at all) of clichés.
Covering a sporting event can but and exciting. It can also be boring and tedious. Either way, it is hard work. People who read sports reports are usually well informed about the game, its participants and its meaning, and they are likely to hold the sports journalist to a high standard.
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