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Crediting the defense

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    I received an e-mail from an reader who was curious why in write-ups about soccer and other similar sports like field hockey and lacrosse, why the defense doesn't get mentioned more in the story.
    The people who scored goals and assists are always in the story, but many times the defensive players aren't.
    The reader wondered if that's just "the way it is" or is there another reason.
    I'm not sure how to answer it, if it's a failure on my part in terms of reporting or something else. The only thing that comes to mind is that if I'm going to put something in the paper, especially if it's a phoned-in thing, I'd like to have some sort of objective measure of what the player did, stats or something like that, not just "somebody played well on defense."
    Also, I think there are times when I'm covering a game live when I will report that the sweeper took the ball away from an attacking player or something like that, so maybe it's a matter of somebody not really reading my work on falling back on old cliches.
    I'm not even sure how to answer this one. Like many things I do, I don't always know why I do it.
  2. Tucsondriver

    Tucsondriver Member

    Not much you can do in a roundup if the coach calls it in and doesn't mention it. If he/she does, you can use a quote and mention a few names. But there is a language of roundup that like you said tends to diminish the accomplishments of things that aren't measurable statistically. It's not the world's greatest injustice. Just like linemen take pride in doing the dirty work without getting much pub, so do their grunt equivalents in other sports.
  3. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Not worrying about it. Somebody asked me a question and I'm trying to figure out what a good answer is.
  4. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    If a sweeper makes the difference, and sometimes they do, then it's always well received to give them some credit.

    But you've got be able to identify that on your own.
  5. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    For lacrosse, you might look to see if the statisticians kept ground ball totals for individuals, and obviously saves.

    On this kind of thing, especially with called-in games, having a knowledge of the players on each team can help. If Team A, which has a standout attacker, gets shut out one game, ask Team B's coach how they were able to contain that player. Most of the time, the coach will give you a name you can use, and you can use it in relation to the player they held off the score sheet.
  6. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I'll be the person who called in has a son/daughter/neighbor who plays defense. Just like the guy who complains the star tailback gets all the glory and his linemen never get mentioned.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Tell complaintant to get back to you with reference to a game won 0-0.
  8. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    From the OP, it doesn't really sound like a complaint. The way I read it, a reader -- who may or may not have a dog in the fight -- wondered about it.

    It's a legitimate question, really.

    I worked in a collegiate hockey league office and had to helped choose stars of the week. More often than not, the defensive star was someone who assisted on goals, because that's all the scoresheet had. We were aware the method sucked, but unless an SID called and made a pitch, we had no way to know what defensemen were outstanding defensively.
  9. Bob Slydell

    Bob Slydell Active Member

    As far as soccer, I ask the coach about the defense. If a team only gets off a few shots, the defense has to play a role.

    Now if a team gets 15 shots and has one goal, most likely they can;t shoot well.

    But one of the girls teams we cover has a super-fast defense, and I make sure to mention it. It's hard put that into statistical terms I know, but I try to spread the love.

    But when a coach calls in and doesn't mention it, not a lot you can do.

    And HanSenSe, I played line in school so whenever I hear that i just tell them to get over it, goes with the position.
  10. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    If it's a paragraph or two about the game, then you get the people's names in who scored. Simple.

    If you're covering a game and it's 1-0 and you spend six paragraphs on the guy who scored the goal and one paragraph on the defense, that's poor reporting.
  11. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Active Member

    Could be that, or it could be the other team's keeper had a great game (getting shots and shots on target would help sort that out). Of course, you also occasionally run into a scorekeeper who counts every slow dribbler to the keeper's feet as a "shot" (or worse, a "save").

    @ SP: I can't speak to lacrosse or field hockey as I haven't had the pleasure, but part of the reason scorers get so much attention in soccer is because scoring is so damn hard to do. And, like Jimmy Dugan says, the hard is what makes it great.

    Soccer isn't a game that lends itself to stats, and defenders' stats such as successful tackles, interceptions, headers won, etc., would only bog down a story some people already find difficult to follow. If you must have defensive stats from a phoner, ask for keeper saves. You can keep an eye out for defenders constantly breaking up plays or winning headers when you cover a game in person. I'd hold off on mentioning defenders stripping the ball unless the play would've otherwise been an obvious scoring chance.

    Above all, if you're wondering how the defense played, just ask the coach. They should be able to give you a good gauge whether that 1-0 game was down to offensive ineptitude or defensive brilliance.
  12. I believe coaches about as often as I believe politicians, so stick with the stats.
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