Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Will Roberts of UVA threw a perfect game yesterday, only the 19th in D1 history and the first since 2002. But you wouldn't know it if you read the recap from George Washington University, which came out on the losing end of the feat.

How does this happen? Let me tell you a story. Some years ago, I interviewed for a job with It would have been pretty miserable - working from 8pm until 3am, writing up quickie game recaps for the night's games around the country, working solely off of text play-by-plays and game notes. As part of the interview, I had to do a sample on the spot. I wrote it up, ten grafs or so, focusing on what I thought was the story: one team extending their winning streak to eight games, thanks in large part to five stolen bases, three from a single player. Only when I was nearly finished did I notice that a player had hit for the cycle in my imaginary game. I didn't want the job enough to rewrite the whole thing, so I snuck it in at the end. I didn't get that job.


Then, there's the robot possibility. In recent years, researchers have made strides in teaching computers to write game recaps. For an example, see the ACC Championship Game, as written up by StatSheet's algorithm. It touches on the relevant facts, like who won, who was ranked where, who scored how many points — but it's dry. It doesn't have any mentions of the rivalry, or of seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler getting standing ovations when they were removed with a minute remaining. The computers are adequate at writing game stories, but they're not great.

So which of these possibilities best explains burying the lede as deep as it can go? Probably neither. No one goes to official school sites for their sportswriting. Just the parents of GW players, and they want to read about how their kids did.

[h/t Chris D]

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