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Everything You Need to Know to Become a Sportswriter

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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.

Different Kinds of Sports Stories

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Getting a handle on sportswriting 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. The straight-lede game story is the most basic story in all of sportswriting. It's just what it sounds like: an article about a game that uses a straight-news type of lede. The lede summarizes the main points - who won, who lost, the score, and what the star player did. Feature-lede 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.

Writing The Short Game Story

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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 lede 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.

Write Sports Stories On a Tight Deadline

Eric Redner

Covering an athletic event on a tight deadline is tough enough. It's even tougher when you have to file a new story for each quarter, half and period of the game in question. But that's what Eric Redner had to when he was covering games two and four of the 2010 NHL finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks. Redner works for SportsNetwork.com, a sports wire service whose clients want separate stories for every period of championship sporting events like the Super Bowl, NBA and NHL finals.

The Top 10 Sports Cliches To Avoid (At All Costs)

Any reporter who’s covered anything from a football game to a golf match – or anyone who has even just watched sports on TV, which means virtually all of us – has heard it. It’s the sound that makes sportswriters want to alternately cringe or upchuck, a sound to be dreaded like fingernails scraping a chalkboard. What is it? The dreaded sports cliché. (Cue the horror movie music.) Yes, we’ve all heard them, and we’ve all rolled our eyes when we’ve heard them. For some reason, the athletes and coaches of the planet seem to have gotten together and decided that they must speak in such clichés, no matter how tired, stale or just plain irritating they are.

Sportswriting Exercise: Soccer Game

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You're a sportswriter for the Centerville Gazette. You’re covering a soccer game between the Centerville Community College Eagles and the Ipswich Community College Spartans. The game is for the state collegiate conference title. It takes place at the Ipswich campus in Wardleysburg. The game is deadlocked until Centerville’s Tamba Kamara, a freshman who played soccer at Centerville High School, scores the first goal with 21:18 remaining. Ipswich’s Jason Beardsley scores for the Spartans to tie things up with 11:08 remaining but then with just 2:23 remaining Kamara scores again. Final score: 2-1.

Working Journalist: Sports Columnist Mike Sielski

Mike Sielski
I write at least four columns weekly for a chain of three daily newspapers in suburban Philadelphia and their Web site, www.phillyburbs.com. I cover all the major pro and college sports institutions in the Philadelphia region: the Eagles, the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers, the Big 5, Penn State, etc.

Sports Columnist Mike Sielski Pens a Book About Athletes Who Went to War

Photo courtesy the publisher

He was already pretty busy covering the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers for the Calkins newspaper chain in suburban Philadelphia, but now columnist Mike Sielski has written a book that’s just been released nationwide: “Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor.” Sielski tells the tale of two football players on rival high school teams in the Norman Rockwellesque burg of Doylestown: Central Bucks West senior captain Bryan Buckley and Central Bucks East senior Colby Umbrell. Both were star athletes who after graduation chased dreams of playing college ball.

Working Journalist: Michael Rushton, Editor at SportsNetwork.com

I am responsible for writing previews for that day’s games for the NBA, NHL and MLB with a 10:30 a.m. (EST) deadline. I also am responsible for writing previews for NFL games with a deadline of Thursday afternoon. I also update team depth charts, write weekly/bi-weekly team reports and occasionally write columns.

Working Journalist: Eric Redner, writer for SportsNetwork.com

Eric Redner
My job consists primarily around writing and editing any sports related stories in both the professional and collegiate realm. These include games, trades, signings, controversies and anything else that our clients and readers would find of interest.
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