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Jun 30 / King Kaufman

Long-form sportswriting: How to find it, how to learn from it

Vintage typewriter

Ridiculously clichéd use of vintage typewriter photo. Credit: trekphiler, Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Want to read some great long-form sportswriting?

Quickish, former longtime ESPN writer Dan Shanoff’s sports aggregation site, collects long-form pieces at the tag longish.

Recent entries include Michael J. Mooney’s GQ piece about the identity scandal surrounding high school basketball star Jerry Joseph, Joe Posnanski’s profile of Yogi Berra for Sports Illustrated’s “Where Are They Now” issue and Dave Sheinin’s piece about minor league manager Luis Salazar, who lost an eye when he was hit by a foul ball.

Another site that collects long-form sportswriting is SportsFeat, an offshoot of, which does the same thing for general journalism.

SportsFeat seems less concerned with timeliness. The top piece at this writing is a 1998 story by Skip Hollandsworth in the Texas Monthly. But current stories appear in the timeline as well.

Remember Jonah Keri’s advice for writers in this space: “Read, read … READ.”

Reading great sportswriting is a great way to improve your own sportswriting. As you read, notice what the writers you like are doing. How are they starting their stories? How are they using rhythm, setting scenes, incorporating dialog? How do they organize their stories, and how do they move from one subject to the next?

If you laugh, how did the writer make you laugh? What was the setup and how was the punchline delivered? If you find yourself misting up, back up. How did the writer get you going? Did the writing get more florid at the emotional part, or more simple and straightforward? Did the length of the sentences play a part?

You won’t learn something from every writer you read, but if you’re reading consciously, you’ll learn a lot if you read a lot.

Where do you go to find great long-form sportswriting?

  • Make Time For Sports

    Sports Illustrated would be a good bet.