A New Model for Sportswriting

There's some promise here.
When I worked at NHL.com, we had to write these “Why the [TEAM NAME] will win the Stanley Cup” pieces before every postseason that were just nightmares, especially when you didn’t believe what you were writing... We were guaranteed to get 15 of 16 of these stories wrong every spring yet we did them anyway.

Six years later, I’ve found the perfect antidote to that insufferable optimism—telling you why your team isn’t going to win the Cup. I’m guaranteed to get 15 of 16 correct! You can’t beat those odds!
I don't know much about the current state of hockey, but the model he's hit upon is clearly valid.


E Hines said...

I don't entirely agree. A more valid approach--and more interesting IMNSHO--would be to write "Why the [TEAM NAME] will/won't win the Stanley Cup," according to the considered view and season-long observations of the sportswriter. The NBA, MLB, and NHL writers tend toward that view, albeit imperfectly. It would suit hockey well, too.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have noticed a rise in that type of article over the last few years.

douglas said...

The premise bore better expectations for an article than the product turned out to be in actuality. It was more a one-liner stretched into sixteen teams of trying to be funny in knocking the teams. By the time he got to my Kings, he admitted he had nothing left. The analysis wasn't particularly good in any substantive way, either.

He's a sportswriter, not a comedian, apparently.

At least we're finally talking hockey in the hall!

Texan99 said...

I'm not sure if this is a new trend or something I didn't notice before, but it seems that journalism of all kinds depends heavily on prediction pieces, and not very good ones, either. I wouldn't mind seeing thoughtful pieces that made specific predictions, as in the scientific method, and then invited people to consider in a year or two how good the prediction turned out to have been. Instead I get a constant stream of vapid reports speculating vaguely about what Congress or the President is about to do next. I'd rather read articles about something that has actually happened, maybe putting it in historical context.

Grim said...

Excellent point, Tex. But then they'd have to know history, wouldn't they?

At least we're finally talking hockey in the hall!

Like the desert flowering after a long-delayed rain, enjoy the brief moment while it lasts. :)

MikeD said...

Tex, the issue with reporting what has already happened is that everyone else can do it as well as you can. Who, what, when, where, and why are not difficult when literally everyone has the same sources (or can lift the copy right off of a rival's site in mere minutes). News organizations used to be able to pride themselves on "scooping" other media outlets. But when your competition quite literally can put up the same facts in less time than it takes for your readers to get to the end of your story, the ability to crow "but we had it first" is near meaningless.

So now they're all trying to get the best "analytical team" of reporters that they can. Because it's no longer about scooping the other outlets, it's about predicting the outcome correctly before it even happens. And just like any other predictive field, they get praised to the heavens when they get it right, and everyone kind of assumes that "everyone else gets it wrong all the time too" when they don't.

The problem is, whereas your personal biases may cloud and tint your vision on an event that has happened already, "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes" doesn't actually work that well. But a personal bias will absolutely swing predictions that you may make. Look at the articles talking about how it's inevitable that the rest of the country will end up like California (blue, and liberal as hell). It's not a prediction based upon evidence, it's just based upon wishful thinking. How many times have we heard that "Trump is sunk!" or "the White House is in chaos!!"? Weekly it seems, and yet, for all their wishcasting, he's still President, and his approval rating is still climbing. But hey, everyone gets it wrong, so they're forgiven for not getting it right this time.