Beyond the field of play

Beyond the field of play

Former England soccer captain David Beckham makes news both on and off the pitch. Photo: Associated Press

Sports journalism focuses on sports events and the issues that surround them. It is the perfect combination for anyone who loves sports and writing.

But passion alone won't make you successful. As more money is invested in sports, the more important sports run not just in the sports pages, but also in the news and business sections. Sports reporting involves far more than just reporting the score - sports journalists write about the people (athletes, managers, owners) as well as sports issues.

Key points

1 Like other areas in journalism, preparation is essential. Researching the sport, the interview subject and the issues surrounding the sport ahead of an interview or match gives you a good idea about what questions to ask.

2 Meet your deadlines.

3 Sports reporting is not the same as writing commentaries about sports. Like in news, there is a clear distinction.

4 If you are writing about a team sport that you really like, your job is to write about the sport and not "your sport".

5 Remember, you are not a cheerleader.

6 If you are covering a match, it's best to attend practice sessions and observe what's happening. The same goes if you are doing a feature story on an athlete.

7 When covering a match, focus on the important plays that could impact the result. It's important to tell the reader what happened, but describing every single play is definitely not the best way. Also, make sure you get the right score.

8 Records are important, too, so before an interview or match, find out about the milestones, for example, if an athlete is undefeated or if this is his/her 100th game.

9 When writing a match report, try to focus more on the athletes and less on the play-by-play.

10 Give attention to the details, then you can write a colourful report.

Dig up the news

Sports cliches - or overused sports expressions - do not make for interesting quotes. Dig a little deeper and see if you can get something else out of the athlete.

How to cover covering a sport you know nothing about:
‧ Research
‧ Terminology
‧ Preparation
‧ Speak to those who know about the sport
‧ Don't act like an expert
‧ Ask questions (it's your job, after all)


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