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News gathering for a sports story


In this assignment, students will learn what sources and research are essential to sports writing and practice using those resources. This is a flexible lesson that teachers may fit to program needs by requiring students to gather information for one or more types of sports stories, including an advance, a game report, a season recap and/or a sports news feature. Students will gather information on a particular team and use that information to write the story or stories they are assigned.

A similar lesson focusing on how to write sports stories is available in the News Writing section of the Writing module.


  • Students will develop background knowledge on the team they are covering and the sport itself.
  • Students will collect and analyze data of the team both prior and following a game.
  • Students will locate sources to retrieve background information and statistics (season and game).
  • Students will identify and arrange timely interviews with significant sources (coaches, team leaders, prominent players and opposing team members).
  • Students will gather relevant information to compose one or more sports stories.
  • Students will demonstrate observation skills by noting event highlights.
  • Students will transcribe copy-ready quotes and be ready to compose a story within 24 hours before and 24 hours after the game.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


Three 50-minute class periods, plus the start of a fourth (170+ minutes)


Slideshow: Reporting on sports

Class set: Sports coverage planning handout

Sports reporting rubric

Optional use: Story prep worksheet

News writing rubric

Lesson step-by-step

1. Slideshow — 20 minutes

Establish prior knowledge. Ask students for ideas about how sports reporting is different from other reporting. What do they need to know and how will they find the info they need? Explain that students will learn about how to properly prepare for covering sports. Walk students through the slideshow on gathering information for sports. Stop to address questions, provide clarification and add/solicit examples as necessary.

2. Make assignments — 15 minutes

Using your staff’s story assignment process, assign a sports-related story to each student.  Based on publication needs, you may assign season or game advances, game reports, season recaps and sports features. A student may not cover a sports team that he or she is part of.


Beginning or novice students can learn much about sports reporting from covering a single game or match. Using your school’s athletic calendar as a resource, assign students to cover a sporting event at your school or nearby. The dates may be spread out over three or four weeks.

Students may work together to obtain background information and statistics, and they may coordinate interviews to avoid the coaches being inundated by beginning reporters, but each student should plan, report and write a separate story.

Honors students or students on staff without previous journalism training may be required to write both an advance to a key game and the game report. If your program includes a website, staff members can be required to write for the website and turn around the game report within 24 hours.

Advanced or more experienced staff members should move toward beat reporting. Assign each student to a team for each season, to cover all of the teams in your school. Some sports may need off-season coverage as well. Use past experience to determine what sports require coverage for each season. Depending on the size of the staff, some teams may be assigned to two or more reporters, or one reporter may be assigned to two or more teams in the same season. Student editors or the adviser may determine a minimum number of stories required from each sport or team.

Each student must determine what stories are necessary from their sports, including advances, game reports, season recaps and news features. You may require any or all, depending on publication or broadcast needs.

3. Brainstorm and research — 15 minutes

Distribute the “Sports coverage planning handout.” Ask students to spend the rest of the class period brainstorming and beginning to research how they will complete their assignments.

4. Assessment

Assign the “Sports coverage planning handout” for homework. Evaluate based on completion.

Additional assessment: Use the “Story prep worksheet” and assign students to transcribe key facts and quotes from research and interviews. Check the quality of reporting for the assignment. Use the “Sports reporting rubric” to assess the quality of the reporting.


If necessary, the teacher may use the following lesson steps on subsequent days to check student progress or to provide time in class for work to be completed. These steps are particularly useful for beginning reporters or staff members who need additional assistance.

Day 2

Research — 50 minutes

Students conduct research by gathering prominent statistics, arrange for interviews with at least three sources, prepare relevant questions and conduct interviews. You might use class time for this, or students may work outside class.

Once interviews have been completed, provide class time for students to transcribe interviews and prepare quote sheets.

Day 3 (after advance interviews have been completed)

Evaluation — 20 minutes

Students will have research notes and transcribed quotes evaluated by peers and adviser before filing an advance story. Peers should look for any missing information or information that needs to be clarified or expanded.

For a game report, students will make contact with game statistician and arrange a timely post-game interview with a coach and a team leader.

Then, the student will attend the sporting event to observe action, collect data and conduct end-of-game interviews.

Day 4 (after event)

1. Transcribe and write — 50 minutes

Student will transcribe quotes, organize data, and file a game report story. Fact checking should occur prior to filing story.

Adviser will conduct follow up conference with student reporter. Story may be evaluated using the sports reporting rubric.