Writing for Sports

So you want to write for sports! You may have already read over the writing basics, and you want some guidelines on sports specifically. Here are a few.


UTM sports

As a UTM paper, we focus on UTM stories. Writing for the Medium’s sports section means documenting and previewing sports at UTM, U of T, and—occasionally—on the professional stage. We also publish stories related to physical activity on campus, including RAWC programs and classes and the politics of the UTM Athletics Council. Now and then, we’ll do a profile or two.

But our main focus is games, and once the seasons have started, a slow week is rare—and that means deadlines are tight. As a writer for our sports section, you need to be able to attend a game to write about it, since we prefer original material. Those games can be early in the week in the RAWC, but they can also be late in the week at St. George. Make sure the sports editor knows what you can commit to.


Context and detail

Now, as for actually writing it. One of your basic goals as a sportswriter is to supply background and context for the actual event. The sport, the league, the season, the team, the players, the staff—these are all aspects that you should know about, or at least be able to find out about. Summarize any relevant information for the reader so they understand the significance of the story. A game isn’t just a game—it could be a tie-breaker or a record-breaker, a comeback or the loss of a winning streak, a learning experience or a trophy-decider. And so forth.

At the same time, too much detail should be avoided. Amazing performances are worth mentioning, but not every score needs to be physically explained. Think about the highlights, no matter what kind of article you’re writing. On a similar note, even if you’re an aficionado, it’s important not to use too many technical terms or you’ll risk alienating a more casual audience.


Style, opinion, and editing

On the other hand, sportswriting is one of the areas of journalism in which having an opinion rarely alienates readers, but instead draws them in. Both the writer’s own thoughts and quotes from players, staff, and even fans are valuable, so you should usually make an effort to talk with people after an event and collect some public reaction. Of course, you still need to tell what happened objectively and include points from both sides. But your reader will be rooting for the same team as you the majority of the time, which gives you a bit of licence.

There’s more than one way to structure a sports article. To address it loosely: like any article, it needs a lead—the opening line or paragraph that tells the reader the main fact of the article so they know why they should be interested. Then you can take a second to set the event up with some context, describe the event, describe the aftermath and reactions, and lay out what will happen next.

When you’re done, send it to the editor at sports@themedium.ca for editing!

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