In sportswriting, what you know can depend on who you know
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There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” It’s not quite accurate when it comes to sportswriting, but I’ve found the who-you-know part of it applicable to my experience in the Bleacher Report Sportswriting Internship.
Almost every article I have written has started with a conversation. The stars of these conversations are my roommate, a sports nut and future lawyer; my girlfriend, the only person who loves Gonzaga basketball more than I; and a foreign-exchange student from Bangladesh who’s passion for soccer makes him an enigma on campus.
Good sportswriters understand they don’t know everything about all sports. It’s difficult for me to write about the history of soccer because I just started following the game two years ago. But I can pick up the phone, call my friend and have a spirited discussion that helps me narrow my focus and makes me excited to write.
The best sportswriters are open to other points of view. There are thousands of angles a writer can take. Having discussions with others has allowed me to delve deeper into my ideas and sometimes change my point of view.
These discussions have allowed me to gauge just how engaging my points were. If my words fell on deaf or sleeping ears, it was back to the drawing board.
A great example of the benefits of networking occurred just last week. I asked a friend of mine at UCLA to keep me appraised on the NCAA’s investigation into Shabazz Muhammad’s suspension. Having this contact allowed me to get a head start on copy when rumors on campus emerged that Muhammad would become ineligible.
As soon as these rumors were verified by the athletic director, I simply had to put in a couple quotes because the framework and analysis already existed. Getting out in front of this story allowed me to write an article that got placement on Bleacher Report’s front page.
It’s a great idea to surround yourself with passionate sports fans who can help you broaden your ideas and knowledge. If nothing else, it keeps you from talking to yourself while writing.
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