Friday, October 1, 2010

Building a better box score

Several teams, particularly up-and-coming teams, contact their local papers to get coverage and promote their sport and upcoming bouts. Unfortunately, many newspapers and television stations still treat roller derby as a niche sport, the latest fad and treat it little more than a club sport.
Teams often expect reporters to just show up to a bout, but when most events are held on a Saturday, derby gets left at the bottom where the news cycle is concerned. Bouts often fall on days in which a newspaper operates on a skeleton crew, with just a few reporters and photographers working that day. Work itineraries are budgeted several days in advance, so unless you've invited a reporter to come out to the event -- sometimes bribing them with comp tickets or media passes -- it's likely that no one from your local paper will show up.
To start building interest in your sport, it can be incredibly beneficial to start providing box scores to your local newspapers. Box scores are the easiest way to get your name in the paper because sports desks are almost always looking for things to fill their agate pages (those pages with the teeny tiny type regarding scores from area and major league sports).
Here’s a simple rule to remember: The quicker you get your box score to the paper the better. If you wait until the next day to submit it, the box score has a greater chance of getting tossed in the trash. Immediacy is your friend.
Also don't simply choose to send the box scores in which you win or just the home games. Anytime your team plays -- home or away, win or lose -- someone from your league should be able to provide a quick and easy box score. Thanks to smart phones and wireless Internet, this has become incredibly easy to do, it just takes some coordinating with your NSO staff or the staff of your host team if its an away game.
The most basic box score should provide some key information: The name of the bout, the date, what city the game is played (even if it's a home game). Such information is important once you build a relationship with the paper and they decide to call your media representative to write up a gamer -- a brief story about the game. Time, date, place, the teams that played are all important. Next you want to list the teams playing and if the name of the home cities isn’t included in their names, set the hometowns off in parentheses.
Ex. The Dairyland Dolls (Madison, Wisconsin)
Not everyone knows where the Circle City Socialites or Charm City skaters are from. Even the most astute fans may not make the connection of Circle City to Indianapolis, or Charm City to Baltimore.
Next break down the score by period and total so that it's the points from the first half, second half and the final (for added emphasis you can bold the final score: XX-XX XX
My favorite down and dirty box score looks like this:
Bout nameDateLocationDairyland Dolls (Madison, Wisconsin): XX-XX XXWindy City All Stars (Chicago, Illinois) XX-XX XX

Second if time permits, I definitely recommend poring over the jammer stats and find the top three jammers from each team and do subsequent point breakdowns (first period, second period, total) for each.

Now, for something that will likely offend many derby girls: Instead of listing the derby names I highly recommend tracking down skaters' real names and using those. Newspapers are much more likely to print real names as opposed to derby names. Getting the real names of your team's skaters may be relatively easier than tracking down those of your opponent but the payoff will be much greater than if you simply report your own score, or use derby names.  And some derby names just are print appropriate as most professional newspapers will shy away from the racier names.

Do the math as quickly as you can and then hunt those respective girls or their friends down to get their real names.

Also don't worry about working in how many jams, lead jammer percentage, grand slams ... yet. Get comfortable with getting the most basic information to your media outlets as quickly as possible. Most casual sports readers will understand a basic box score simply because it's simple. If you start throwing strange stats around you'll lose someone who might have a slight interest. Stick with standard box scores, jammer scoring by period.