College sports media staffs doing a solid job

Check out this profile by Alabama's Crimson White on a top-ranked golfer.

Check out this profile by Alabama’s Crimson White on a top-ranked golfer.

During the rest of the school year, I will assess (at least weekly) college sports journalism coverage across the country.

  • The Crimson White’s Elliott Propes offers a terrific profile on Alabama’s top-ranked golfer, Robby Shelton. He begins with a scene on a golf course that illustrates a key theme in the story.
  • I never understand why some college newspapers refuse to cover intramurals, especially when these events sometimes attract more interest than NCAA-sanctioned sports. Boise State’s Arbiter writes a preview of the school’s first-ever flag football championships. (A reminder: there is no such thing as a first annual because the event has never repeated itself. Annual can be used starting with the third successive event.)

  • Looks like some college newspapers are starting to follow professional media on how to cover sports events. Eastern Washington offers a few graphs that emulate an AP-type lead, followed by ensuing graphs that outline the following: What It Means, Turning Point, Key Statistics. This is a fine way to cover sports events, but I would not employ this approach for more important, or popular events, such as a conference championship, a rivalry game or a tournament match, where narrative can better offer context, depth, in a format that connects more emotionally, and sometimes, intimately, with readers.
  • The Hilltop Online’s Jourdan Henry writes that football programs at historically black colleges remain competitive and fun, despite Howard’s recent 76-0 drubbing from Boston College. This column also traces HBC’s proud football legacy, which once ruled college football and that continues to thrive in conferences like the MEAC and SWAC.
  • The Reveille regularly publishes video online, including this press conference where LSU players discuss the team’s game against Alabama, which will affect both SEC and national title chances for both teams. I’m surprised that more schools are not offering more video. Yes, access can be a challenge on many campuses (especially for high-profile football and basketball teams), but staffs can use different approaches, such as video on fans reactions’, and can video other sport more easily, such as cross country, baseball and tennis. Video skills are no longer optional for college students entering the profession.
  • J.R. Oppenheim does a terrific job covering a women’s soccer game that has conference tournament implications. In the lede, this writer addresses a key play, offers context and writes knowledgeably about the team’s situation. I’m also impressed by the number of people interviewed.

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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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