Post all stories online, not just the big ones

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Texas fans did not get to read about the womens soccer team's victory Monday morning unless they went to the school's athletics site. Post all stories online (and quickly).

Texas fans did not get to read about the womens soccer team's victory Monday morning unless they went to the school's athletics site. Newspapers should post all stories online – and quickly. (photo/texassports.com)

Texas football coach Mack Brown said Saturday’s game against Oklahoma was one of the greatest games he had ever seen. Better than Vince Young’s heroics against Southern Cal a few years ago? Coaches are prone to hyperbole, so we’ll allow this emotional post-game statement. The Longhorns’ 45-35 victory over Oklahoma may have been the best big-game this season. Offensively, this sure was a (Red River) Shootout as both offenses ran and threw, seemingly, at will. It was a fun game to watch. The Daily Texan’s David R. Henry was up to task of covering a game between a No. 5 (Texas) and No. 1 (Oklahoma). Here’s his lead:

DALLAS — Chris Ogbonnaya’s run toward a roaring sea of orange at the Cotton Bowl in the fourth quarter put an exclamation point at the end of Texas’ new No. 1 ranking.

The senior running back’s 62-yard run to the 2-yard line with Texas up by three led to the game’s final score, a 2-yard Cody Johnson run, giving the No. 5 Longhorns a 45-35 upset win over No. 1 Oklahoma in Saturday’s Red River Rivalry.

“It was one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. “Every time one would get up, the other one would come back and vice-versa. It was a heavyweight fight that continued throughout the day.”

After Missouri and LSU, formerly in the top five ahead of Texas, fell Saturday, the Longhorns overtook second-ranked Alabama in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today coaches’ polls to score their first No. 1 ranking since October of 1984.

Henry covers all the main elements – key play (62-yard run in final minutes), significance (Longhorns now are No. 1), context (two other top 5 teams lost during the weekend), and solid quote that emphasizes the lead’s focus.

Not sure why the newspaper’s other sports coverage is not included online. Texas alum and fans would certainly want to dive into the Daily Texan’s usually solid coverage. I suspect the newspaper probably had several other stories and columns on this game as well. Fans also do not get to read about the volleyball team’s victory over Colorado, the womens soccer team’s 1-0 win over Texas Tech, nor about the baseball team’s fall ball win over Baylor. You can find these stories on Texassports.com, the official site for the university’s athletics. College publications should also consider their other readers, alums who will check in for years to come. Quickly put these stories online as well, or risk losing them to your university’s AD sites.

A few other suggestions – 1. Interview coaches and players from the opposing team. That perspective, whether that is a player crying, a coach getting angry, or an assistant coach logically breaking down the game, shows the context and impact of these games. 2. Do not write that a coach ‘called in the dogs,’ unless that literally happened at his home. Write more precisely.

The Oklahoma Daily’s sports editors said Texas ‘escaped’ with a victory, a statement in a headline that strikes as homerism, implying the Longhorns were fortunate to have won the game. The newspaper did offer several stories online about the Sooners’ running game and a column. And the paper also offers a story on Oklahoma winning its first womens soccer game in 43 days. But nowhere in the football coverage did the newspaper quote, cite or attribute comments from Texas’ coaches and players.

Cliches, part II – Do not write that a play was a “nail in the coffin.” The play may have put the game out of reach, or culminated a failing performance, but no undertakers banged away at an old wooden box. And if someone tosses a Hail Mary at the end of the game, it is probably fans who are hoping that someone catches a pass made out of desperation or someone watching at home with rosary beads, praying that the Virgin Mary is blessing her team. As sportswriters, we need to write more precisely (and, yes, creatively, which means either playing off these terms or using more accurate language.)

Show, don’t just tell Snow flurries disrupted a women’s soccer game in Boise last Friday, creating slippery field conditions and limited visibility – a perfect storm for writing descriptively. Fans love to read (and watch) games played in bizarre weather conditions. Show these games to fans in detail. Telling alone (never a good idea) is an especially poor idea when writing these game stories. Here are a few excerpts from the gamer in The Arbiter:

Coming into the second half, the women were greeted with light snow flurries and a slippery field, making play executions even more difficult. In the 76th minute, sophomore Shannon Saxton crossed a beautiful shot into the net from the right side to put BSU up 2-0. … By this time, the field was white and severe snow was falling on the teams, making visibility and play extremely difficult. … With only four minutes left in the game, BSU did what they could to get the ball up the field, but with a heavy snow falling, the ball got too heavy to move effectively, causing the match to end in a draw.

Show how execution was more difficult by detailing a few plays (or, at least, offer one play). How poor was visibility? Could players only see a few feet away, preventing players from making longer passes or causing the goalies to ask teammates for the ball’s location? How did the ball get too heavy (and how did this cause problems in passing and shooting.) If you cover a story like this, jot down some general descriptions such as “goalie could not see farther away than the penalty box area” or “midfielder slipped twice at around 19 and 23 minutes while trying to cut right.” In addition, ask many, many questions – posed mostly to players for more description of the game. Remember, interviews are for recording information, not just for quotes. By getting this information, you can describe the games from two perspectives – yours and the players.

Yet another reason not to rush the field Florida International University won its first football game at home this past weekend, something that prompted at least one fan to celebrate by rushing the field at the end of the game. An FIU athletic department employee, apparently, beat this fan, according to fiusm.com. But no other news outlet covered this story. I hope the FIU student media follows this column with updated information for a news story.

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