When I was going to journalism school in Vancouver, one of my instructors would say from time-to-time that sports reporting/writing wasnít real journalism. Itís a form of entertainment, he said, not hard-hitting, life-altering investigative journalism.
Well, maybe itís not, but itís not something to be written off, either.
Sure, recapping a hockey game might seem like a blithering page of nonsense compared to a front-page piece on the New York Times about Hurricane Sandy, but you know what? Itís not as simple as that either.
Of course Iíd get a bit insulted as a j-school student about what my instructor said, even though I wasnít a sports writer yet. I couldnít help it Ė thatís what I was trying to become and my end goal was basically being tossed out the window as fluff that couldnít contribute to society.
I thought he had a point in most cases (ie. recapping that hockey game I mentioned) but there are many ways to cover and write about sports.
In a smaller community like Fort St. John, sports mean a hell of a lot. Itís a city that
prides itself on its athletic achievements, which it has every right to. This is one impressive place when it comes to the caliber of athletes it puts out, and the communityís pride should be reflected in the work I, or other sports writers, publish.
Is it fair, then, to say that writing about the pride of this community isnít important journalism? Well Iíd like to think itís important to my audience, and thatís all that matters to me right now.
When Iím working on a basic results story, sometimes after I speak to that athlete or coach, an underlying story reveals itself. Instead of the article being about a victory or a defeat, something wonderful comes to the surface, and that recap story can turn into an account of impressive, amazing humanity. It can be a story about how sports or competing changed someoneís life, or it can be a profile on someone who has changed other lives through sports.
Really the amazing stories that can come out of sports are endless. They are engaging, relatable and awe-inspiring as well as entertaining.
How can those stories not be considered good or legitimate journalism?
There are many forms of writing and just as many ways to write about sports. The people involved in those articles, stories and profiles shouldnít be written off just because of the category of ďsportsĒ that theyíre filed under.
Everyone has a story to tell and athletes have some of the most amazing ones there are.
No one can make me feel bad about my job because itís an incredible one made so by the people I meet through it and the stories they tell.