Research

After determining a topic, the work begins. You may have a general concept to the piece, but there must be components to back up the relevancy of the piece. It is not enough to claim team X is the best in the league or that athlete X is the most talented athlete of their sport, there must be evidence to back it up. To produce this, you must gather data regarding their completion of skills related to what makes them successful, or not. If this is a piece about the greatest team or athlete, data is your friend. Key resources would be websites where official statistics are recorded and updated, as well as academic journals that keep record of such things.

These types of data would also be helpful in a piece about an individual, even if the focus is on a unique characteristic or life event that has happened to them. This type of information can help to paint the picture of who this person is and could explain or contrast who they’ve become. Perhaps the story is about someone’s sudden success, or it is about their fall from grace. Either way, background knowledge is important and can help the audience (reader, viewer, listener, etc.) to understand where the topic is going.
Statistics can only take you so far, however. An injection of humanity is always helpful and can better help the audience to follow the topic. It can also humanize or give a person a different perspective on a topic. Interviews are the way to adding this element, as they can introduce people involved with the person or topic before, during and possibly after their topics occurrence. Childhood friends, current friends, teammates, neighbors, coaches, teachers, etc. can help to better understand someone who is constantly surrounded by fame. It may be a long shot, but involving people directly connected with a topic, whether team members or an individual athlete, can add much more character to a piece. It can be an opportunity for them to give their perspective on a story or an opportunity to check in with that person’s perspective on what they’ve achieved or what they haven’t achieved, and their future goals.

 

Learn more:

The Sports Industry

Sports Audiences

Finding Stories

Ethics in Sports Journalism

Career as a Sports Journalist