Though reporting live from games or matches and writing vivid, detailed re-caps afterwards are important components of sports journalism, many compelling stories are written outside of game hours, and focus on the people that make up the sport. Chuck Gormley’s ESPN article detailing former Philadelphia Flyers player Brian Propp’s recovery from a stroke is an excellent example of such human-centered sports journalism.
Gormley provides just enough necessary information to familiarize an unknowing reader with Propp’s legendary NHL career, without over-saturating the otherwise focused article with too many statistics and details. Propp’s stroke story is told in chronological order throughout the article, with details of his career woven in where they make the most sense. The article includes quotes from both Propp himself and his former teammates, which not only validate the story, but help illustrate Propp’s personality based on how others talk about him and his influence.
The article also demonstrates the relevance of Propp’s story to hockey players, fans, and the stroke community at large. Mentions of his participation in a Flyers alumni game, charity golf tournaments, and counseling groups for stroke victims make this article far more than an update on a former player who suffered an injury, and overall enjoyable to read.
Non-game-specific coverage, however, can also seem forced, unexciting, and ultimately irrelevant when non-influential stories are pursued. For example, Cameron DaSilva’s Fox Sports article on a fan’s foolish tattoo appears to be ultimately unnecessary, and therefore did not work for me as a reader. The story of this tattoo can be largely interpreted simply by viewing the photo—an overzealous fan with confidence in his team made a bold gesture that ultimately did not end in his favor. This story is almost identical to that of a confident Cleveland sports fan, which went viral only a few months ago, and packed a larger punch because of how close the premature tattoo came to being accurate.
DaSilva’s article is short, factual, and does not provide readers with a substantial amount of information beyond what is intuitively inferable. Even the quote from the fan provided in the article does not reveal much about him—it simply states that he was devastated by the loss, and expects a Super Bowl win from the Cowboys next year. If this article had provided more unique information about the fan, such as a story detailing the history of his fandom, it might have been more compelling to read.