Covering basketball, Sportswriting: Language

Some March Madness cliches are more wretched than others

used to rail vs clichés like “Cinderella” and “bubble teams.” Those words, though, have been used so pervasively in discussions about the NCAA Basketball Tournament that they are now as endemic to coverage as March Madness. That’s what makes English perhaps the best language on the planet; words are blended and redefined, in part, through popular usage and changes in society. (God help us, though, if charity stripe eventually makes the cut.)

Sports language has been a big part of our vernacular for more than a century. Baseball, in particular, has a strong hold on how we describe our lives. We go to bat for others, strike out when we fail, and hit a home run when we succeed. Sometimes, though, we throw a Hail Mary pass in a desperate attempt to do well. At other times, a decision or action is a slam dunk.

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Teaching sports journalism

Not so obvious to journalism students? To earn the best sports media jobs, one needs to work hard for a long time.

I think we all need to drop into Capt. Obvious mode from time to time – by stating ideas that are clearly self-evident … except to some of our students.

Students do not often consider the toil required to get to the level where they can get to the highest level – nor that they should enjoy the work itself. Success usually comes to those who are diligent and patient.

Conversely, teachers do not always remember that students are really just beginning on their paths, regardless if they are freshmen or seniors. Here are a few thoughts on the subject that I posted on my Twitter account. Please, feel free to add your own suggestions and tips below – no matter how obvious because they will probably be new to someone.

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Covering Games, Teaching sports journalism

There’s no better way to teach sportswriting than to bring students to cover live events

postgame

EIU women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant and two of his players address the media, and my students, after a game last week. These experiences are invaluable for sports media students.

You can grill students all you want on interviewing techniques, keeping score, taking notes and writing game stories, but they won’t really learn until you throw them into live event coverage.

Everything makes sense until one has to cover a game on deadline.

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Sports Features, Teaching sports journalism

How to report and write news stories more visually

Co-wrote an article with friend and colleague Brian Poulter that has been published in the current issue of Teaching Journalism & Mass Communication. This evolved from a workshop we presented at several conferences on ways to improve writing skills by employing photographic approaches. Check it out.

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Sports Language

Even Spock might agree: Clarity is the key to solid sportswriting

Once upon a time, someone somewhere used a new word or phrase to describe something related to sports that was creative, illuminating and/or humorous. Through the years, that word became embedded in sports journalism’s lexicon, used – perhaps, tirelessly – numerous times. So should this word be considered a cliché, a worn phrase or just another vocabulary word, no different than other parts of speech? At what point should writers eschew such words and phrases?

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