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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Use financial data to offer context on college athletics

knight commissionResearch into athletics spending has never been easier for college sports media thanks to both the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the USA Today athletics/coaches’ salary databases. These resources enable college sports journalists to compare finances in order to develop numerous comparisons. This morning, for example, I played with financial data related to both our school (Eastern Illinois University) and our conference (Ohio Valley) that has yielded information for at least a few stories worth investigating.

Here is a sampling of data about EIU’s spending based upon 2012 finances from the Knight Commission database: EIU ranks ninth among 10 OVC schools in total athletic spending at $29,159 per FTE. [Data for Belmont and SIU-E were unavailable.] Southeast Missouri spent $259 less overall per FTE than EIU does. EIU spent $12,550 more on athletics (FTE) than on academics. In this category, EIU ranks at the bottom. Murray State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State, meanwhile, each spent more than $30,000 more per FTE on athletics than on academics.

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