One of the differences for today’s sports journalist as opposed to when I began my career in the late 1970s is the sheer volume of information available to everyone surrounding a game or team. The press notes and media guides were once the tightly held to the vest by team communications and the sports reporters themselves. After all, all those stats at our fingertips made us look very smart.
But what is very much the same is how you use those stats/facts. Usually, the team only gives you positive notes. The rest is hidden in the stat sheet or record book, but it’s up to the journalist reporting on a game to have a balanced perspective and to anticipate questions that may or may not be answered during the game.
Even though I’m taking time out these days to work in academics, I still approach a game or team journalistically. How can I put what happens on the field in perspective? What truly makes one result, one performance, noteworthy?
I enjoy the positive, uplifting aspect of sports. I believe in fairness and treating athletes like human beings. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking for things some might see as negative, as long as it’s in perspective. So when working with my sportscasting students at OUTV this week helping them prepare for Sooner Sports Pad and OU Nightly, I wanted to put in perspective how rare OU’s home record is this year, having lost twice in Norman for the first time under coach Bob Stoops.
So, with a good OSU team coming in to Norman for Bedlam, an unbiased observer would realize that a third home loss this season was a possibility. (Even if I didn’t see it as a probability) The question I asked my guys? When was the last time OU lost three home games in a season?
The answer is 1997. The dark days for OU football. I haven’t heard or read the tidbit anywhere his week. So I told them to put that fact in their pocket. Just in case it became relevant. As OSU and OU run back and forth from end zone to end zone today, it will be interesting to see if that info is used by my students this week, win or lose.
This is one way that if you do your homework as a sports journalist and make it your business to go beyond the obvious, you can be known as a go-to guy or gal when it comes to reporting,