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May 3 / Neri Stein

How to leave the fan behind and become a sportswriter

Neri SteinOne of the toughest things for beginning sportswriters to grasp is how to leave the fan behind. Being a sports fan is what got you into this business in the first place, and the whole idea of “For the Fans, By the Fans” is what sets Bleacher Report apart and makes it so special.

So, how can you be sure you’re writing as a journalist and keeping your fandom in check?

Well, for starters, stop defending your guys every time they do something wrong and lambasting your rivals whenever the opportunity presents itself. Banter is good fun on Twitter, but you can’t base an entire article on it.

As you write and read your article, put yourself in a rival’s shoes. Is your argument sound and complete, or are you only seeing half the picture? You’re already going to upset plenty of readers when you pick your favorite player over theirs, so don’t give them any extra ammo.

It also doesn’t work to list your complaints during your team’s latest losing streak and place blame on anyone you can think of. Any fan can do that. Sportswriters need to actually defend their complaints and find the solutions to the problems.

Readers are smart. They know when you’re just favoring your team or player and when you’re simply going on a rant. They won’t like it, and they won’t respect you for it.

Proofread your article as a reader and make sure you’ve answered all the questions that come up. Make sure you’re not talking—or writing—down to anyone.

Finding the balance between being a fan and being a writer takes work, and Bleacher Report is the perfect place to experiment. Fans are everywhere on B/R, and they’ll be sure to let you know if you’re on the wrong track.

Keep writing what you’re passionate about, but write as a journalist, not as a fan.

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Neri Stein is the Bleacher Report Sports Media Internship‘s Assignment Editor. Follow her on Twitter @neristein

  • Gary Davenport

    You’re going to get slammed by certain members of a fan base any time you criticize a team, no matter how well-founded those criticisms might be. I apparently am a “hater” of 38 NFL teams, which is quite the achievement in a 32-team league. You’ll also get the “you’re not a ‘real fan’” remark if you DARE to criticize the team you happen to also root for.

    You’re absolutely right though Ms. Stein. If you’re going to be at all effective as a sportswriter, the fan hat has to come off when the writer hat goes on. Luckily for me I’m a Browns fan, so I never wear my fan hat anyway…it’s embarrassing.

    • Rob Goldberg

      I also find it funny when people complain that I’m “obviously a fan of _____” after writing an article, when I actually can’t stand said team.

      Good post, Neri.