Wick Communications

Expanding sports coverage

In sports on 7 Feb 2013 at 3:58 pm
On the day baseball Hall of Fame voters passed up this year's class, the New York Times sports front went blank too.

On the day baseball Hall of Fame voters passed up this year’s class, the New York Times sports front went blank too.

What is a sports story? Does the story of a basketball player’s tattoos count? How about an expose on head injuries caused by sport? If you were a sports reporter, would you even pitch a story about an avalanche?

Recently, we learned that Joe Sexton was leaving his post as sports editor of the New York Times for a spot with the online journalism outfit, ProPublica. I admit his name didn’t mean much to me, but I sure was aware of his work, work that included championing the stories mentioned above and many more like them.

Because editors commonly toil in the background, most of what I know about Sexton comes from this short profile by New York magazine’s Joe Hagan. I wanted to nod my head off as I read the piece.  “Do @#$#^ you’re not supposed to do,” Sexton told Hagen. And this gem: “The ways to have impact are to produce exclusive news, write memorable stories, and evince a sense of daring and fun,” says Sexton. “And if that formula fails, then we’re all in #$@#ing trouble.”

Those, my friends, are words to live by.

The Times sports section truly sees the forest for the trees. Sexton and his charges realize readers can find out who won the game in a million places. The Times unique value proposition, under Sexton, is to deliver something else: context, awe, curiosity … grandeur.

Want to see something inspiring? Take a look at “Snow Fall.” It may be the most audacious “sports” story ever written. It took forever to produce and a million man and woman hours. You decide for yourself whether it was worth it. You can be remembered for a thousand game stories or you can be remembered for your epic. …

Here’s all I’m saying: Think big. Produce exclusive, memorable stories (across multiple platforms) and, as Sexton said, “evince a sense of daring and fun.” I bet you won’t be sorry.


  1. This is a great look at what sports stories should be. Fun, exciting and inspirational. You can get scores and stats from a box.
    Write for the 90 percent of the public and not 10 percent for other sports writers. I can hardly stand or stay engaged in most of what I have read in sports recently. Their short with scores and stats that mean nothing and don’t tell a story. It’s the Lazy Sports writers way out. It’s the grenade pile of average looking to do the bare minimum to justify a paycheck.
    You can still adhere to AP style (I have become to believe that no one really knows what that is) and still produce READABLE stories. Your audience deserves it.
    I have to reference “On Writing Well” because it has been a God send. The section on sports writing is excellent.
    Once again Clay, you’ve cut through the bull%$#@ at hit it right on the nose.

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