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Why is most sportswriting so bad?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by inthesuburbs, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    Why is most sportswriting so bad? Lame. Full of trite phrases. Obvious. Overblown. Choose your adjective.

    (One theory: Sportswriters tend to watch way too much TV, and read far too little. Not all sportswriters, but most.)

    For example, in the following story, the paragraph, "Somebody will." Wouldn't any good desk editor -- or teacher in junior high school -- remove that sort of trite, obvious writing?

    I'm not talking about inexperienced writers, but professionals.

    Here's today's lede from the world's largest news organization, covering the world's most popular sporting event:

    "Spain outplayed Germany yet again."


    Spain tops Germany to reach World Cup final
    Puyol’s second-half header sets up championship showdown with Holland
    By Nancy Armour
    The Associated Press
    updated 5:33 p.m. ET, Wed., July 7, 2010
    DURBAN, South Africa - Spain outplayed Germany yet again.

    And now the Spanish have the biggest prize of all within their sights.

    Spain will play for the World Cup title for the very first time, thanks to Carles Puyol’s goal on a powerful header in the second half Wednesday night. The 1-0 victory was the same score as the European Championship final two years ago, which Spain won to end a 44-year major title drought.

    But while the European title is nice, nothing compares to being the world champ.

    “This is one of the greatest moments for Spain, for us to be in the final of the World Cup, it’s history,” said David Villa, who remains tied with the Netherlands Wesley Sneijder for tournament scoring leader at five goals. “And we want to make more history in the final.”

    Somebody will.

    Spain faces the Netherlands on Sunday at Soccer City in Johannesburg, ensuring a first-time champion. The Dutch, who beat Uruguay 3-2 on Tuesday night, have lost in their only two trips to the final. The two teams have never met in the World Cup.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    That phrase really got your panties in a twist, huh?

    Sorry. Figured if I didn't offer a cliche, somebody will.
  3. CR19

    CR19 Member

    I can't worry about the quality of sportswriting! I have to focus on the LeBron James saga! ;)

    That's a great question, and the answer is elusive. Sometimes, writers just get lazy and have no interest in making a name for themselves. We also have "ESPN" syndrome where writers believe the words on ESPN equal good sports journalism. Please understand: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner is horrific.

    You have to make up new ways to say things. Whenever someone says a cliche, someone must have invented it. Writers may also believe that the way they write will draw more internet readers. I'm not so sure. I usually bypass AP stories because there is no creativity to them.

    Be creative, be original, and you'll do well. If only most of the other sportswriters followed that advice.
  4. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Because the appetite for sportswriting far outstrips the availability of good writers.
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Does the "very first time" come before the first time?
  6. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I thought the "Somebody will" line was kinda good, personally.
  7. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    Beating the ESPN dictionary out of a new stringer is usually step one. And I can't count the number of mini Bill Simmons clones I've come across. Telling someone to leave the letter "I" out of a submitted column, or even a game story, elicits nothing but blank stares.

    I would say 90-percent of the sports writers I have come in contact with read nothing but sports. They read no fiction, non-fiction - nothing outside of the usual suspects on the web. I always thought if you wanted to write well you had to read well, and that means reaching to sources outside of sports.
  8. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    So bad says who? Says you? Somebody will is a transition trying to bridge between the quote about making history and the final, which will indeed make history. Could it be more smooth? Maybe. But I'm OK with it the way it is, personally.

    Desks are getting cut down and it kind of stinks. But I don't think it's fair to blanket everything as bad.

    One thing I'll say is sometimes what seems like an unnecessary reach is done for variety. What's worse, saying "scored" seven times in a row or coming up with other, sometimes more cumbersome, ways to say it so the story doesn't seem repetitive?
  9. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    There are a lot of things to discuss about our business, and what writers do compared to what they did, and what's allowed, and whether quick opinion writing and writing to provoke other opinions has somehow diminished what we do, and whether anybody will write really well in 20 years.

    The line "Somebody will" in this article, where it was placed in context, is not a starting point for that discussion.
  10. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I should have kept the "Top 10" list on dos and don'ts for writing an AP gamer that I was sent when I was a stringer for a year.
  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Because in your mind there's too much emphasis on design?
  12. Lester Bangs

    Lester Bangs Active Member

    People do the best they can to make a living. I am sure I've turned my share of inarticulate dreck, but we're writing about sports. Our readers aren't looking for Hemingway ... or even Jim Murray. Just tell the story the best you can and quit with the nitpicking. It's vanity to get hot over a phrase like that, same as it's vanity that drives Bill Simmons and all his clones.
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