How to Be a Sportswriter – Lesson 2 – Ultra Clever Sports Puns

A sportswriter cannot assume people will seek out stories and information on their favorite teams.  People don’t want facts. They don’t feel like browsing though boring stuff like who won the game and by how much.  Who cares who the leading scorer was?  No one cares what records were broken that night.  People want to pick up the sports page and get what they’re really looking for out of their news… a moderate chuckle at a clever pun. 

The ingredients for a good…nay, great sports pun are surprisingly simple.  You just take someone’s name and/or nickname and plug into a cliché.  That easy.  Well, okay, there is a little more to it than that.  The cliché has to at least kind of sort of describe your story. 

For example, remember the stunning performance of LeBron James in the playoffs in which he scored, I don’t know, a billion points in the 4th quarter and took the game into overtime, in which he scored half a billion more?  Well, the headline should read King James Holds Court.  You see, because he ruled.  King.  Ruled.  Get it? Oh, man that’s good.

The Monday morning paper after this past Super Bowl Sunday?  Sports page should have featured the headline Super Bowl MVP?  The Colts Have Found Their Man(ning).  

Stanley Cup?  Ducks Too Mighty for Senators

On the Tour De France reign of Lance Armstrong, Only the (Arm)strong Survive.  Okay, I was really reaching into the past on that one, but as much ass as that headline kicks, that really shouldn’t matter.  Hell, I could still throw out my little beauties about the 85 Bears “Shuffling” to victory and it would still grab the readers by the horn.

Imagine this scenario… The Yankees are down one run in the bottom of the ninth against the Red Sox, a runner on third, and up to bat comes A-Rod, who has been 4-4 in the game with 2 homeruns.  Instead of pitching to hit and letting him bring home the game tying run, the Sox decide to walk A-Rod.  Up comes Giambi, who rips a shot into the far corner of right field, allowing both the runner on third and A-Rod to score, winning the game.  What should your headline be?  That’s easy. 

 Spare A-Rod, Spoil the Yankees 

See what I did there?  Not only is it a pun and ultra clever, it’s also taking a cliché, switching it up a little, and making it mine.  That’s my cliché now.  You’ll think of me and my brilliant sportswriting every time someone uses the old cliché about the rod and the kid being spoiled.  See?  My headline rules so hard I can’t even remember how the original goes now. 


Coming Up – Lesson 3: Ultra Bitter Home Team Reporting






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