10 Ways to improve online sports journalism

Online sports coverage doesn’t have to be all scores and stats. Nowadays, sports fans have a multitude of ways of experiencing the game without ever having to leave their home. Here are a few ways to give sports reporting a new media makeover using online technology.

1. Make it interactive

Sure you can try to recreate the game with clever writing or visual language, but interactive and Flash-based stories give the online user a better understanding of exactly what happened. Take for example ESPN’s shot-by-shot interactive graphic of a 76ers v. Orlando Magic game, The Indianapolis Star’s interactive recreation of the Indy 500 or The San Diego Union-Tribune’s online tour of last year’s US Open at Torrey Pines South which also includes a flyover of the course.

2. Map it

Sports games are great candidates for mapping because they can happen anywhere in the world or, in the case of the New York Times’ 21 Stages of the Tour de France, all over the country. An equally interesting map was created by The Charleston Gazette for the Charleston Distance Run and the basketball court maps from Nofouls.com and Courts of the World are worth checking out.

Be sure to also take a look at the map of NBA, NFL and MLB stadiums created for a previous post on sports arenas.

3. Blog it

For every sport that exists there are at least 100 blogs dedicated it. Many mainstream media outlets, including ESPN, the Telegraph (UK), and the Star Tribune have not one but several blogs dedicated to a variety of teams.

4. Make a database

With all the stats to account for, many sports lend themselves to databases that contain useful information, like the Washington Post’s NCAA Tournament database. Great databases aren’t limited to scores either: The Indianapolis Star has an online record of Peyton Manning’s career passes and Lost Lettermen, pictured below, has wiki-based updates of favorite college basketball and football players.

5. Make it social

No one knows more about a sport than its fans, so providing a destination where fans can talk amongst themselves and create their own content is the epitome of Web 2.0 thinking. Sites like FanDome, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation let users post video, chat on message boards and write sports reports themselves.

6. Tweet it

Third-party sites like Twackle and SportyTweets, as well as traditional news media like Newsday use Twitter to share the latest sports updates (in 140 characters or less, of course). Or, to up the ante, take a cue from the New York Times’ map of Twitter chatter during the 2009 Super Bowl.

7. Make it mobile

For the sports fan on the go there a number of different ways to stay up to date using a mobile phone. CBC.ca created a mobile-friendly guide to the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs and CBS Sports is available in its entirety by mobile phone. There are what seems to be an endless amount of sports-related iPhone apps, including Sportacular and MLB.com At Bat, which is also available for the BlackBerry.

8. Podcast it

There’s nothing sports fans love more than talking about sports. Give the sports talk show an online overhaul by creating dedicated podcasts produced by those who love the game. Check out the Guardian’s football (soccer) podcast or the KCRW’S The Score for inspiration.

9. Widgetize it

A part of new media thinking is knowing that readers don’t necessarily want to have to visit your site to read the latest news. The same goes for sports news. Online news sites like CBS News, USA Today, and the Telegraph have produced widgets that contain the latest scores, news and even video, all of which can be posted across the web.