Use the terminology for the sport you are writing
about. If you are new to sportswriting and are not sure
of the terminology, play it safe. It is better for you to say
a batter hit the ball or a quarterback threw a pass
than to wrongly use words like slammed or
launched. You will lose your credibility fast if you
write that a team edged another team, 104-57, or that
a quarterback fired a nine-yard bomb.
Write in the active voice as much as possible. Do
Write, instead, defeted, blanked, overwhelmed,
and so on.
not write was won, were victorious, and so forth.
A couple of words common in sportswriting trouble
grammarians and some sports editors. The words are
win and host.
Technically, win should not be used as a noun, and
host should not be used as a verb, although many
respected sportswriters and editors now accept such
usage. Check with your editor before you write
straight win for the Eagles or The Eagles host the
something like, The victory marked the seventh
Naval Station Cervantes Cavaliers Friday.
A similar usage problem arises with team names and
pronouns. It is wrong for you to say, NAS Pensacola
began their drive on the 30-yardline. NAS Pensacola
is singular and their is plural. You should write, NAS
Pensacola began its drive. ... You should use their,
however, when you refer to a team by its plural
nickname Battlin Lemmings, Blue Knights, Fightin
Giant Lampreys, Dolphins, and so forth:
RANKS, NAMES AND NICKNAMES
In military sportswriting, it is common practice not
to use ranks. However, your CO or office SOP may
require their use.
Similarly, middle initials and such designations as
Jr. or III are not used in sportswriting.
Nicknames, however, are common and should be
used. The usual style for first reference is as follows:
first name/nickname in quotation marks/last name. Note
the following examples: Elvis Toast Patterson or
Evander Real Deal Holyfield. Sometimes the
nickname comes before the first name, as in Neon
Deion Sanders. On second reference, only the last name
NAMES AND NUMBERS
Just as in newswriting, names and numbers should
stand out as red flags while copy editing; each must be
double-checked. The difference in sports is that there are
likely to be a lot more of both names and numbers.
Double-check name spellings and make sure
numbers are correct. Also, make sure numbers add up,
both in the story and in box or line scores.
Do not confine your story to action that takes place
on the field. Use sidelight information that may interest
the reader: the size of the crowd, injuries that might have
affected the outcome of the game, weather conditions,
and so forth.
TYPES OF SPORTS TO COVER
Sports encompasses more than just the big three
(baseball/softball, football and basketball). On military
installations, there are a number of other sports and
recreational activities that warrant coverage, including
bowling, tennis, racquetball, squash, golf, darts, boxing,
wrestling, gymnastics, running, youth sports, and
hunting and fishing.
For you to have a variety of sports coverage in your
newspaper, you may have to develop a stringer system.
It is important you remember that stringers are seldom
trained journalists. Therefore, it is usually necessary for
you to provide them with some training and brief them
on your newspaper style and deadlines. More
information on using stringers may be found in
Handbook for Stringers in the Armed Forces (NAVMC
26-84) and in the JO 1&C TRAMAN, Chapter 7.
SOURCES OF SPORTS INFORMATION
A problem for many beginning sportswriters is
knowing where to gather the needed information.
Consider the following sources and note that officials
are omitted from the list because they are seldom, if ever,
a source of information:
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) for
the ins and outs of recreation, intramural and
youth programs, including rules, schedules and