Tips for planning college sports coverage

College teams are already training and scrimmaging, weeks ahead of another academic year. So now is the time to plan your college media’s sports coverage – that is, if you have not already done so. (It’s not like every single event is not already scheduled and available on your school’s athletic website, right?) Planning enables staffs to be more creative, more engaged and more relaxed. Below are 10 tips for improving sports coverage across any media, which are excerpted from the second edition of the Field Guide To Covering Sports, which will include the expanded list when the book becomes available in Winter 2017. The new edition dives even deeper into social, digital, and mobile sports media, and the Field Guide greatly expands coverage of sabermetrics/analytics, Fantasy sports, ethics, broadcasting and visual storytelling. Plus, there is a chapter on covering a college beat.

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Apply quickly for sports journalism scholarships

There are only a few days left, but this is a terrific opportunity to earn some cash for college – and all for doing what you love best, right? Check out the details below and send in your clips . I suspect they’ll accept some unofficial transcripts until an official one can be mailed.

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The new(er) face of sports event coverage

This is the new(er) look of game coverage: a package compiled by a writer typically watching an event away from the venue and who relies more heavily on advanced metrics, video and social media instead of on play-by-play and post-game interviews. You’ll also notice that visuals (metrics charts that appear more like daily stock market charts), video clips and social media screen shots play as big a part in presenting this story as words do. To learn more about advanced hockey metrics, you might want to start here.

You’ll also need to learn to break down action on the ice, as SB Nation’s Pat Iverson did below. To improve your ability in assessing play, you can chat with high school/college coaches and players, asking if they’d be willing to meet with you to explain – even off the record – aspects of the game. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to sit in when they break down game video.

Value picks. Understanding advanced hockey metrics (left) can get as complicated as evaluating ebbs and flows in the stock market (right). 

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Miami Herald offers an excellent multimedia game package

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The Miami Herald delivered a terrific post-game package after Game 6 of the NBA playoff series between the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.
Today’s game coverage has changed a great deal from two decades ago, before social media and during digital media’s infancy, but some things haven’t changed: telling stories that are focused around key players, plays or trends – even if they are conveyed through audio, video, photos or all three mixed together.

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Learn to curate sports media content

Part of sports journalism today is aggregating, or curating, information found on social and digital media — especially for amazingly, spectacular, enjoyable events like rotund Bartolo Colon hitting his first career home run a few weeks shy of his 43rd birthday, a far more worthy accomplishment than the USA winning a gold medal in ice hockey, as some writers noted. In times like these, fans want to hear what the sports world proclaims. This USA Today writer offers numerous fun comments and coverage in this post. You don’t have to wait for such a fun, crazy moment to curate, though. (Here’s another entertaining curated list that relies on historical sports video.)  Try either approach for any live event or sports news. In addition, create lists on Twitter for interesting sports media and athletes who regularly provide great commentary (and which can save time on deadline). Create lists on Chrome or Safari for sports media websites as well, following top content providers. This is another skill that requires practice, and which can better prepare you for a sports media career.

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Sports leads should offer context, introduce storylines

Like a talented leadoff hitter, leads set the table for a game story or preview. They put the story in play in a reader’s mind, meaning, to continue the metaphor, that the writer might eventually score by compelling people to read on. Too many leads are the equivalent of a strikeout while looking; no big swings and misses. The bat never leaves many writers’ shoulders.

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