There are always at least two sides to any story – unless that story happens to be about sports on college campuses. Or so it appears based upon a recent survey of college sports journalists. (A few weeks ago, I surveyed 72 college sports journalists and college advisers, along with 79 sports information directors. The results will be published in College Media Review.)
More than half of those responding say they rarely or never interview players and coaches from opposing teams for any of the following stories – gamers, previews, profiles, and features. Just over 10 percent of all college sports journalists say they interview opposing players and coaches for these same stories. That's a shame. Sports journalists cannot be lazy reporters. Sportswriters already have a poor reputation as borderline journalists who write for the toys department or serve as PR hacks for teams even though some of the finest reporters can be found in the sports department. Unless a locker room is closed, there is no excuse for not grabbing a quick comment from the other locker room or dugout. And there is absolutely no reason for not calling opposing coaches and players for game previews, profiles and features. That's how readers – and sports reporters – gain perspective on their local, or campus, teams. As sports journalists, we need to work hard and report in much more depth.
This summer you may be out there covering Little League baseball or travel softball. Treat these sports the same as you would college and professional teams. Introduce yourself to the opposing coach and ask to speak to some of these other kids. You'll learn a lot about the game. And readers will be terribly impressed – as will the sports editors who may consider hiring you some day.