Here are the most important concepts for you to learn in this class:
Inverted Pyramid Style
This means that the most important information goes first. In sports if the result of a contest isn't noted (winning score goes first, always), the inverted pyramid style isn't being followed and this professor gets really crabby!Remember the 4 Ws and an H
In a news-style sports lead for this class, four of the five W questions and at least a basic answer to the H question get answered, usually in one sentence.
- W = Who - In a sports story about a competition there is nearly always two who answers: winner and loser.
- W = What - What is the result of the competition (the score); and what are the consequences for the winner and loser; i.e. in a tournament the winner advances to … in a team sport it’s usually noting the team’s records after you name them. See the team competition example above.
- W = When - The date and often in the lead you’ll add the day of the week just for clarity. For example, Monday night.
- W = Where - The city where the event occurred in bold type is called the “dateline” and it occurs before you even start the sentence. Then, in the body of the lead the name of the venue should be included.
- H = How - In the lead a simple explanation of how a competition was won should be included. In the examples below for individual and team competitions, how is answered by the words "straight sets" and; Yadier Molina lined a two-run single.
So, why don’t I ask for the answer to the question "why" in an AP style sports lead about a sport competition? Because, the answer to "why do they compete at any sports contest is always this: To see who would win.
Other leads for sport organizations, besides those which summarize sport competitions, should additionally answer the question "why" so will have the 5 Ws and an H contained therein. (See the non-competition examples on this page.)Be brief and use clear language
The lead sentence(s) may answer the five questions in a sometimes shockingly brief answer. A lead should never be more than two sentences. The lead should not contain flowery language, unnecessary words, and, for the most part, should not include your opinion. Facts are being stated.
Use an active verb and use the correct verb tense. In a summary of a sporting event, you are ALWAYS
writing in the past tense. You know the outcome because the game is over, it happened. Team A beat Team B.
The winning score should always be listed first, even if you are working for the team that lost. In sports it is ALWAYS
, Team A beat Team B, 41-38. And, in reporting the score of a game or listing the ranking of a competitor or team in sports, it is acceptable to use numbers for scores or rankings. No. 1 Team A beat No. 13 Team B, 6-4. (Check AP Style manual whenever you are unsure.)
A writer of this basic style for writing in sport gets to exercise creativity and skill in two ways: 1) by using active verbs in the past tense; and 2) in describing how a contest was won, interestingly, but objectively.
"He blasted a home run" is a lot more active
than "He hit a home run." Notice that both verbs are in the past tense because the home run happened; the game is over.
"She slipped the winning goal by the keeper in the final minute of action." Notice that you know the match must've been exciting because there was less than a minute on the clock; there is no need to add a superlative.
This writing is more technical than creative, but the great lead writer still makes the sentence compelling by choosing interesting action words.HERE IS A LINK
to a PDF resource for this class to help you with the very basics of AP style.