that prevents three runs from scoring. Sometimes, no
single play will stand out. Then it is up to the writer to
choose what to highlight. Analyzing statistics and
interviewing coaches or players after the game can help
you isolate turning points in the game.
If a key play happens to be an error, do not be afraid
to write about it. Athletes put themselves in the public
eye whenever they take the field, opening themselves to
praise and criticism. If, however, you are writing about
youth activities or Little League game, it is appropriate
to avoid mentioning the name of the player who
committed the error. In such cases, attribute the error to
the team or position.
It is not necessary to write about every inning,
period or quarter of a contest. If nothing of consequence
happened during a period or over several innings, you
do not have to explain that nothing happened. Rather,
you may briefly explain with an introductory phrase
like, After two scoreless innings . .. or Neither team
with detailed accounts of each batter or each ball
possession; focus on the key plays.
USE OF SPORTS QUOTES
could move the ball until ... Do not bog your story down
Quotes are used in the same manner as in
newswriting. If you have quotes from coaches or
players, weave them into the story. Use them to
introduce, support or explain your account.
We knew that (Scott) Glengarry
was going to beat the secondary
sometime, said Blue Knights head
coach Marc Antonius. It was just a
matter of time. With his speed, nobody
is going to deny him for four quarters,
Beat the secondary, he did. On a
third-and-12, following a holding
penalty, Glengarry raced down the
right sideline, then slanted toward the
middle. Quarterback Cocoa Butler hit
him at the 20, and Price could have
walked in from there.
The Battlin Lemmings switched
to a 2-1-2 zone early in the third period,
and Stevens scored only two field goals
the rest of the way.
Gordian was killing us in the low
post, explained Earwigs coach Kelly
Pritchard. When we went to the zone,
h e a d d e d , w e w e r e a b l e to
double-team him and clog up the
Unlike newswriting, sportswriting requires little
attribution. About the only attribution needed is for
quotes or paraphrases. If the writer witnesses a game or
event, he can write about the action without attribution.
If he writes the story from scorebooks, he need not
attribute the information because it is a matter of record.
SUPERLATIVES AND COLORFUL VERBS
As an observer, the sportswriter may inject his
opinions concerning the action he witnesses. He might
describe a teams defense as sloppy. He might
describe a catch in the outfield as miraculous or a
basketball players leaping ability as gravity-defying.
In newswriting, this is considered editorializing; in
sports, it is the observation of a qualified observer. Do
not overdo it, however, and do not confuse this freedom
with license to break the rules of newswriting. Save the
superlatives for when they are warranted and for when
you are confident you know what you are talking about.
When in doubt, play it safe.
Similarly, the sportswriter is free to use colorful
verbs or adjectives to describe how one team smashed
or clawed its way to victory. People who read the
sports pages or listen to sports broadcasts are
accustomed to such language and expect it.
Do not, however, get colorful verbs confused with
cliches. If you write smacked the apple, you are
resorting to a cliche. If you write, smacked the ball,
you are using a colorful verb.
It is all right to use sports jargon, such as threw a
bomb, lobbed an alley-oop, turned a 6-4-3 double
play or busted a monster jam, when writing game
You must know the terminology and the rules of the
sport you are writing about. If you are not familiar with
the sport, it is wise for you to start reading the sports
sections of as many newspapers as possible to see how
experienced writers cover games.