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Lots of numbers and play by play or the story?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Damaramu, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. Damaramu

    Damaramu Member

    Ok so as a new graduate I'm still learning exactly what people want in a gamer. I've learned it's a ton of different things obviously and that everyone wants something different.

    But, my style has always been not to bog the story down with numbers or play by play. I usually take the stance that there's a key moment or trend in the game that makes the whole game. Then I talk about that and the other stuff is there but it's not as big as that moment or trend or player that had the big game. I try to have my quotes and description revolving around that.
    I'll throw PBP in if it revolves around that key moment but I never do it for the sake of doing it.
    I was told by my ME at the time that my writing was very clean and easy to read. He enjoyed it because there weren't a ton of stats jumbling everything up. There were key stats but I didn't put everything in there.

    Then I'm told by another sports journalist that people like numbers and people like PBP. I need to include more of that in my stories.

    I'm just wondering what everyone's philosophy on writing a gamer is? I just feel like throwing all the numbers in there and a ton of PBP really makes it bland.
     
  2. Overrated

    Overrated Guest

    I usually take the stance that there's a key moment or trend in the game that makes the whole game. Then I talk about that and the other stuff is there but it's not as big as that moment or trend or player that had the big game. I try to have my quotes and description revolving around that.
    I'll throw PBP in if it revolves around that key moment but I never do it for the sake of doing it.


    That's the way to go. There's nothing worse than reading play-by-play.
     
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I agree with your style of less stats and PBP and more of the story. Also, don't get too bogged down in sports jargon.

    The gamers I remember best are the ones that tell a story. The key play is what people are going to remember, not that Joe Blow threw for 279 yards or 297 yards for Podunk U against Bumblefuck State. They're going to remember his crucial interception on the goalline or his rare scramble to pick up a critical first down when his team desperately needed to keep a drive going.

    It's not that stats or PBP aren't important. They have their place. But to me, story is king.
     
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    My philosophy is, find a happy medium. Too much play by play and stats can bog a story down. However, if all you're writing about is the key moment and what it means, you can sometimes be left wondering what the hell happened when you read the story.
    I usually try to lead with the key moment or trend and then get into the pbp and stats later. For example, if Johnny Nutsack hits two free throws with 10 seconds left to win a basketball game, you lead with that. But after you talk about that, try to mention how the game got to that point. Was it close the whole way? Did Johnny's team make a big comeback or hold one off? There's usually a point in time where you can pick up the action and go from there. Way I look at it, if the score is close at halftime then my story hasn't been written yet.
     
  5. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    It really depends on who your audience is.

    Either way, you want to tell the story to the point that your readers feel they were there. Those that actually were there (the ones who care the most about what you write) do want to know the numbers. But it's your job to write about stuff that even they might not have picked up on.

    Stats are good, and a vital part of the story, but if you're working for a nondaily, then stats aren't the story. The game may be 2-3 days old by the time your readers see it. Therefore, you want to write more about the team and its next game as you do a blow-by-blow.
     
  6. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    People who care about play by play watch or listen to the game. Or they read a recap of it right afterward online. With stats, just ask your editor for a small box to the side where people interested in them can look. Your instincts are right.
     
  7. didntdoit19

    didntdoit19 Member

    Do. What. Your. Editor. Wants.

    It's very simple.
     
  8. didntdoit19

    didntdoit19 Member

    That should only be applied to major-league or major-college games. It doesn't work for high schools, small colleges or low-minor league games.

    For example, I doubt there will be a p-b-p recap online of a Cornhole City-Asshair North football game, nor will it lead the 10 p.m. news.

    The person who tought you that should have qualified his lectures. What works when you're covering Big State U. doesn't work when you're covering Little City High. To say that both require the same type of gamer is ludicrous.

    And since the person who started this thread is a recent college grad, I'm betting he/she will start by covering high schools, small colleges or low minor-league games, ie, Little City High or the Little City Wieners of the Outoftheway League.
     
  9. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    You got it right there. When I'm covering a game that's on TV and the radio and all seats are sold out - otherwise known as pro or Division I, I guess - I'll throw in a number here or there and write with the assumption that people saw the game and know what happened. Granted, there are those who missed the game and are looking in the paper to see what happened, but generally, I keep my play-by-play to two or three paragraphs, at max.

    When it's a high school game, Division II or there's no more than 100 people seeing it, play-by-play is a little bit more important, especially the trends. But don't forget to give something to the people who were there.
     
  10. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    You don't need play by play unless you're writing running copy to deadline with a specific size hole to fill. If you have time to get quotes from the principals or build it around a key play or a turning point, that's the way to go. Stats just kind of sum it up.
     
  11. Damaramu

    Damaramu Member

    I'm a one man shop.....so I suppose I should do what I want. haha.

    The only thing that worries me about doing what the editor wants in that instance is that it could hamper your writing style or growth. What if you get to a bigger paper and they want another style or something completely different and you find yourself struggling to break old habits?
     
  12. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Mix it up every once in a while. Don't let it get to a point where you develop these "old habits."

    Remember, forward thinking. You'll get eaten alive if you're not.
     
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