The Sports Writing Handbook

The Sports Writing Handbook

The Sports Writing Handbook

The Sports Writing Handbook


Completely revised and updated in a second edition, this volume represents the only book ever written that analyzes sports writing and presents it as "exceptional" writing. Other books discuss sports writers as "beat reporters" in one area of journalism, whereas this book shows aspiring sports writers a myriad of techniques to make their writing stand out. It takes the reader through the entire process of sports writing: observation, interviewing techniques, and various structures of articles; types of "leads;" transitions within an article; types of endings; use of statistics; do's and don'ts of sports writing; and many other style and technique points. This text provides over 100 examples of leads drawn from newspapers and magazines throughout the country, and also offers up-to-date examples of sports jargon from virtually every major and minor sport played in the U. S.


Being an exceptional sports writer simply means being an exceptional interviewer-- the writing pales if the interviewing skills are mediocre. You can't use in print what you don't get during an interview.

Some techniques are simply timeless. Consider the following three quotations, the first fromWilliam Zinsser (1985) book, On Writing Well, An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction; the second is fromJohn Brady (1976) The Craft of Interviewing; and the last is fromDeWitt Reddick (1949) Modern Feature Writing.

These guidelines are as important today as when they were first published:

Interviewing is one of those skills that you only get better at. You will never again feel so ill at ease as when you try for the first time, and probably you will never feel entirely comfortable prodding another person for answers that he or she may be too shy to reveal, or too inarticulate. But at least half of the skill is purely mechanical. The rest is instinct--knowing how to make the other person relax, when to push, when to listen, when to stop. And this can be learned with experience. (Zinsser, 1985, p. 79)

Interviewing is the modest, immediate science of gaining trust, then gaining information. Both ends must be balanced if the interview is to be balanced and incisive. Yet they are often fumbled in the anxious heat of an interview. The interviewer will either yearn too desperately for his subject's trust and evoke flatulence, or he will restrain his sympathies, demand data--and get like in return. (Brady, 1976, p. 68)

The writer should prepare in advance many of the questions he plans to ask. These questions should not be haphazard and unrelated, but should spring from the central idea of the story, as he sees it. Preferably he should visualize two or three possible lines of development for the story, and think out questions along each line; thus he . . .

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