Don’t hide infractions at your school

You are not a cheerleader. You are not the sports information director, nor the university’s spokesperson. You are a sports reporter. That means you file stories about alleged infractions, such as those regarding Cam Newton, whose Heisman hopes are evaporating as quickly as a stolen laptop. Still, the other candidates are not exactly alter boys, having been arrested for domestic violence and driving under the influence.

It’s never fun to watch to people’s lives implode. Never. But we need to let readers know when an athlete cheats on a test, steals a TV, takes a banned substance, or beats his girlfriend. Why? In hopes that another athlete will think twice before acting in this manner. So that coaches and athletic directors won’t hide egregious, immoral actions. So that boosters will be embarrassed when they get caught. But, most of all, so that young kids, fans reading about their favorite teams, will know this type of behavior is unacceptable.

Don’t worry that a coach won’t talk to you or that a sports information director won’t allow you into a game. The schools need your coverage more than you need to cover these teams – for both recruiting and accreditation. Without your school newspaper, who who will cover the soccer, cross country or volleyball teams. The local daily newspaper usually won’t do that. So what does a coach use during recruitment? Articles on the school’s Web site? Unimpressive. They’ll use your stories, especially those on the so-called minor sports.

If the coach still won’t talk to you, interview opposing coaches and players instead (sources that should always be used in game stories, precedes and features). Or, just don’t cover the games, inserting a note where you explain that coaches and players stopped talking to your newspaper after you reported an infraction.

If you learn about an infraction by the program or an athlete, make sure it is accurate Verify the details through research and interviewing. Otherwise, the story is just a rumor – and we do not want to ruin anyone’s reputation with unsubstantiated stories.

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About jgisondi

I am the author of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports," the second edition now available from Congressional Quarterly Press/SAGE, and "Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot" (U of Nebraska Press). Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition goes beyond general guidance about sports writing, offering readers practical advice on covering 20 specific sports. From auto racing to wrestling, author Joe Gisondi gives tips on the seemingly straightforward—like where to stand on the sideline and how to identify a key player—along with the more specialized—such as figuring out shot selection in lacrosse and understanding a coxswain’s call for a harder stroke in rowing. In the new Second Edition, readers also explore sports reporting across multimedia platforms, developing a foundational understanding for social media, mobile media, visual storytelling, writing for television and radio, and applying sabermetrics. Fully revised with new examples and updated information to give readers confidence in covering just about any game, match, meet, race, regatta or tournament, Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition is the ideal go-to resource to have on hand when mastering the beat. In "Monster Trek," Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. You can order both from Amazon.
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