Getting Inspiration from Sport

It’s been rather a sporty weekend (I don’t mean me! Unless 5 minutes of table tennis counts). First there was the Grand National – which you couldn’t have missed – and the US Masters was also on (that one might have passed you by but if you live in a golf-centric household like me, believe me, you’d have noticed).

It’s made me think. Whether or not you’re interested in sport, as writers, we’re interested in people, right? And there are always great ‘human interest’ stories around big sporting events.

Take this year’s Grand National. One of the favourites was called ‘Definitly Red’ (yes, written that way because the person who registered him couldn’t spell it. But ‘definitely’ is, apparently, the most misspellt word in the English language. I had a colleague who used to reply positively to emails with ‘Yes, defiantly!’ which always made me smile).

Anyway, Danny Cook, who rode ‘Definitly Red’ in Saturday’s National, comes from a family of electricians and landscape gardeners, didn’t start riding until he was 16, once rode a race with a broken leg, has taken the wrong course on a racetrack three times and been banned for taking drugs. Not the likeliest of jockeys! (And quite a character…).

Another story: the two women who’ve been friends since school – Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson – who own the horse that was the winner on Saturday – ‘One for Arthur’. They bought him because they wanted an activity that they could enjoy while their partners played golf. Apparently, you have to have a partnership name, so they came up with ‘Two Golf Widows’ (hmm, if I had several thousand pounds to spare, I could have been in that club too).

And talking of golf, yesterday’s winner of the US Masters, the Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia has taken 18 years – and 73 previous attempts – to win a major. Lots of people thought he’d never do it (‘the habitual bridesmaid’) because although he’s a fine golfer, he can’t take the pressure of big events.

Five years ago, he said this, “I’m not good enough. I don’t have the thing I need to have. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.” Ah, bless, we’ve all been there.

Yesterday, when he won, would have been his mentor Seve Ballasteros’ 60th birthday. The stars were aligned. He did it. The BBC called it possibly ‘the perfect sporting story’.

Aw, I love it.

I wrote a story set during a swimming race, once. It did rather well – two shortlistings and, finally, third place in the Wells Festival Short story competition. I suspect part of the reason if found favour with the judges was because it was a bit ‘different’. Being original, finding an unusual subject matter or angle is, I think, half the battle when you’re entering a short story competition.

So, if you’re wondering what to write about, perhaps you could write about sport? Those freezing days out on the hockey pitch, getting whacked on the ankles. Or did you play rugby or something more unusual, like lacrosse? (or is that only in Enid Blyton books?) or hopscotch or belly dancing?

Here are 10 tips on writing about sport, to get you started.

On your marks, get set… GO!

This entry was posted in Competitions, Ideas, Short Stories, Successes, Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Getting Inspiration from Sport

  1. Kate Hogan says:

    Thanks for the post and the ideas, Helen – always welcome! Just belatedly read your TAB story ”
    ‘You’ve Got My Bum’ really enjoyed it – made me laugh. Thanks. KH

    • Thanks, Kate! Yes, that story’s going back a bit, isn’t it? Got the idea, by the way, from a thread on Mumsnet, in which two women were telling the other ‘you’ve got my bum’. Mumsnet always good for story ideas, imo!

  2. Kate Hogan says:

    Yes, I don’t know how I missed the story but I’m always moving things about so sometimes unread magazines end up hidden upstairs! Thanks for the Mumsnet idea. Good wishes KH

  3. juliathorley says:

    There’s so much drama in sport – just think about how many films are based on it. Ages ago I did start something about a women’s football team: perhaps it’s time to dig it out and have another look.

  4. Ninette90 says:

    Good post (as usual) 🙂 I don’t know the first thing about any sport in enough detail to write a story. My husband does do a lot of cycling and I’ve just written a poem about that! My background is dance and I’ve often wondered about stories set in dance companies or dance schools…hmmm…

    • Go for it, Ninette! I’d be interested in reading something set in a dance school or dance company (I was a ‘promising ballerina’, don’t you know? OK, at the age of 5 I was, at least, until my mum took me out of ballet classes!).

  5. Wendy Clarke says:

    What fabulous stories. I particularly like the one about the golf widows. Thank goodness my husband isn’t a sports fanatic like some of my friends’ husbands.

  6. Rosemary Reader and Writer says:

    Defiantly? Oh yes. In the college where I used to work, this was a very common error, committed particularly by tutors teaching functional skills, I noticed.
    Regarding sport, and writing different sorts of stories, For my face-to-face writing group last month, our theme was ‘Race’ and I wrote about someone attempting to ring his GP at 8.30am and make an appointment, before all the other patients got in before him. What you’ve just said above makes me think maybe I could do something with it.

  7. Defiantly, Rosemary – that sounds like a great idea for a story – go for it! (and it’s something we can all probably relate to, trying to get a doctor’s appointment!). Funny you should say that it was tutors ‘teaching functional skills’ who spelled definitely wrong. My colleague who used ‘defiantly’ was also a tennis coach…!

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