If you’ve recently taken the job of a sports reporter or have been assigned to cover a football match, it’s important to do an effective job. A skilled sportswriter does more than simply regurgitate the scores. Instead, he gives readers a front-row seat to the action and also provides them with behind-the-scenes information. Fans can read the box score to know who scored when, and who was penalized, but they’ll read your report if it gives them more than the basics.
Take extensive notes while watching the match. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the sport, but every good reporter takes notes as he watches. Your notes should be more than the shots, goals and penalties. Instead, include information that goes beyond the scores, such as the reaction of the players and fans, confrontations between players and coaches and the atmosphere of the stadium.
Gather as many quotes as possible following the match. This is usually done in the locker rooms after players are made available for the media. Obtain quotes that add life to your story by avoiding simple questions. Dig deeper during the interview process to get a quote no other reporter has.
Write the key information to your story early. The reader should know the score, goal scorers and any ramifications that come out of the game in the first two paragraphs.
Use quotes to reinforce messages in the story, but ensure each quote adds something useful. Don’t just include a quote to show you interviewed a player. If he didn’t say anything of merit, the quote shouldn’t be included. Use your strongest quotes early to intrigue the reader and keep him reading.
Write the story in the order of importance, rather than chronologically. If a player scores a highlight-style goal in overtime, this fact should be at the beginning of your report, not the end. Use the “inverted pyramid” style, in which the important information is featured at the start of your story and the less important filler content is toward the end.
Give the reader the impression she was at the match. What unusual sights or sounds made this game unique? The more detail you can provide, the better your report will be. Write about players’ facial expressions and body language.
Be conservative about writing statistics. A paragraph full of numbers can easily lose a reader. While stats are important in sports writing, spread the numbers throughout the story so the reader doesn’t think he’s reading an accounting report.