Sportswriters claim that it's tough doing what they do. They have to watch a late game, and be writing a column. Imagine watching the Patriots-Colts game. After 21-3, you are crafting a story that again extols the genius of Belichick and the unflappability of Tom Brady and the Sisyphean task of Manning trying to beat his nemesis.
But, then the game gets close, and then, gets tied, and you're rewriting that again.
Most sports stories appear to be written in halfs. You write the second half of the story first, which is really a report on the first half. It contains details of what happened there, and you hope to fix up just enough of it so that it meshes with the first half, which is really about the second half, or the ending. You see people want to read about how a game ends at the start, but for completeness, you want to talk about the beginning.
Thus, you get the common formula of "cover the first half of the game in the second half of the column and the second half of the game in the first half of the column". It creates an article that's ends ehh, but what can you do? They want to publish the column not even half an hour after the game ends. You have to trust your quick wordsmithing, plus double check your numbers and facts, and fire off the article.
As much as people malign sportswriters for reporting on sports, and not real news, this is the one aspect that sportswriters have it tough, which is to write quickly. And generally, this impedes the quality of what's written. You know you want to cover a few key points. For example, nearly everyone (myself included) has pointed out that two African Americans will coach in the Superbowl for the first time.
You want to talk about the history of the Patriots vs. the Colts, and perhaps even say that the Patriots weren't expected to get this far, and yet, came awfully close to making the Colts have to watch the Superbowl at home again.
You resort to a formula because you don't have time to do much else. Can you be so creative, while still paying attention to the game, enough to do some kind of analysis beyond what the scoreboard says? Most likely no. The only advantage is that the next day's more complete coverage is often no more in depth either. How many sports columnists are competent enough to rewatch the game and analyze details at the level of real coaches? Probably not many. So they appeal to more basic opinions, about how one team lacked heart, or guts, or what have you. Emotion replaces solid analysis because when you lack analytical skills, this is what you do.
All I can say is that despite a game's odd newspaper coverage, I admire the writers for what must be the toughest way to write an article.
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