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Writing sports news


This is a lesson for advanced journalism students on the particulars of covering sports. Experienced student journalists will learn the particulars of covering sports news and practice generating story ideas and/or reading about high school sports. The lesson can be extended to provide practice in sports news writing.

If you would like to teach more on sports writing, a complementary lesson on sports writing, including information on how to write the “game story” can be found in the News Gathering module.


  • Students will identify specific types of information needed for sports news and determine what types of sports news stories are best for student media.
  • Students will analyze coverage of high school sports in their own or other media.
  • Students will formulate story ideas related to sports.
  • In the lesson extension, students will write sports news.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1d (lesson extension only) Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 (lesson extension only) Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 (lesson extension only) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


50 minutes (additional class period if sports writing assignment is included)


Slideshow: Covering sports

Handout: Story prep worksheet

Supplemental alternative: Sports writing prompts 

Handout: Reader wheel short

Handout: Reader wheel sample

Reader Wheel for teachers

Handout: Reader Wheel Blank

Handout: News writing ranking sheet

Lesson step-by-step

1. Build background — 5 minutes

Start with Slide 2 of the presentation, which asks the question: “What do you need to know about writing sports?” Let students make suggestions and take note of any that are, or are not, addressed in the lesson presentation so that you can cover them later. Explain that students will learn some tips for covering sports so that they can improve their sports news coverage.

2. Present — 20 minutes

Present the lesson on covering sports. Ask students — particularly those who cover sports — for feedback on each slide. More experienced sports writers can be prepped to offer advice and examples to newer students.

3. Activity – Option 1 (Slides 20-21) – Pair-Share

Working with a partner, students should brainstorm at least five sports story ideas for the newspaper, website or yearbook. If students have been introduced to the reader wheel or story paths from previous lessons, ask them to use these methods to discover fresh angles and ideas for sports news. In the ideas they turn in, they must use specific examples including which sport or team, what athletes they will focus on and a description of the or approach the story will take.

SPORTS WRITING EXTENSION:  Option 1 – Sports News Writing Assignment

Have students choose one of the five ideas that they like best and can accomplish within the specified time frame. They should complete a Story Prep Worksheet (grading rubric provided) and then continue with their background research and interviewing outside class. Provide an appropriate deadline for first draft. Use the Making it better or GQ STUDS handout for peer editing of sports stories. Use the News writing rubric to grade the rewritten stories.

3A. Activity — Option 2

If your goal is merely to introduce the concept of sports writing or you are using this lesson as an extension with beginning reporters, use Assignment 2 on slides 22 and 22.

Using local prep sports news on the Internet or classroom copies of your and other schools’ publications, students must find one well-written school sports story. They must summarize the story and include the headline, name of publication where it appeared, byline and date published as well as the 5W’s and H of the story. Additionally, students must write a half-page reaction to the story in which they discuss the following:

–       the way the story was written and reported; what the reporter had to do to get this story

–       why this story is news

–       why they are sure this story is news, not opinion

–       what was not included and could or should have been in the story

–       how a similar story might be written for your publication

–       other thoughts, opinions, insights, or reactions

4. Follow-up — Take-home exercise

If assigning a sports news story to each student, assign students to conduct interviews and research outside of class and write a first draft to share for peer editing.

If using Activity Option 2 only, you could have them look for a second sports news story that interests them and turn in a Current event form on sports news.


Activity Option 1

Evaluate the story prep according to the following rubric.


Fair(1 point) Good(3 points) Excellent(5 points) Total points
Topic and angle The topic is of interest but the angle is too general to yield an interesting story. The topic is of interest and the angle is timely and specific. The topic is of interest to readers and the angle offers a fresh, unusual or unique approach. ____ / 5
Sources Sources are not all appropriate to the topic or do not all have a clear viewpoint or stake in the story. Fewer than three sources are listed. At least three complete sources are listed. Sources are varied and specific, but a key viewpoint or expert is missing. At least three complete sources are listed. Sources are varied and specific to the topic and angle. Conflicting viewpoints or a variety of stakeholders are listed in the source lists. ____ / 5
Questions Some key questions are missing. Questions are not open-ended. All 5W’s and H are covered and most key questions are open-ended. Key questions are open-ended and designed to elicit information. All 5W’s and H are covered. ____ / 5
Planning Planning is incomplete. Most planning steps have dates assigned. All planning steps have dates assigned and photography is planned. ____ / 5
Total points ____ / 20

Evaluate the draft according to the peer editor’s comments and provide a holistic grade for effective peer editing.

Score the final draft of the story according to the News writing rubric.

Activity Option 2

Evaluate the summary and response to a school sports news story holistically. Issue full credit to students who correctly identify the story by headline, publication and byline,  provide a clear, coherent and concise summary and answer all of the questions in their reaction.

If using, grade the current event form according to the form itself.

Supplemental or alternative activity

If students need additional writing practice, or you have advanced students who benefit from enrichment, use the news writing prompts provided in this lesson folder.

1. Build background

Ask students to explain how to use the LQTQ formula. Use slides 33-36 of Slideshow: News writing structure to remind students what they should be aware of while writing. Ask them to take out their LQTQ handouts and the news writing rubric to use while doing this writing practice.

2. Work time

Provide time for students to write sports news reports from one of the sports writing prompts. Three complete two-page prompts are provided.

3. Closing

Collect the sports stories, or if you prefer, assign as homework.


Use the news writing rubric or the news writing ranking sheet to evaluate the news stories written from prompts.