AP Style Sports Writing Guidelines
Sports Reporting AP Style
Source cited: The Associated Press Stylebook
Editor: Norm Goldstein
Basic Books, 2004
Sports Story-type Identifiers:
BBO- Professional baseball
BBA- Professional baseball (American League)
BBN- Professional baseball (National League)
BBM- Professional baseball (All minor leagues)
BBI- International baseball
BBC- College baseball
BBH- High school baseball
BBW- Women’s baseball
BBY- Youth baseball (Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legion)
BKC- College basketball
BKN- Professional basketball (NBA)
BKO- Other basketball professionals
BKH- High school basketball
BKW- Women’s college basketball
BKL- Women’s pro basketball
CAR- Automotive racing, motorcycle racing
FBC- College football
FBH- High school football
FBN- NFL football
FBO- Other football, including Arena Football, CFL
FIG- Figure skating
HKC- College hockey
HKN- NHL hockey
HKO- Other hockey, including minor leagues
RAC- Horse racing
RUN- Track and field
It isn’t necessary to spell out the most common abbreviations on first reference, like NBA, NFL, MLB
All-America, All-American:The Associated Press recognizes only one All-America football and basketball team each year. In football, only Walter Camp’s selections through 1924, and the AP selections after that, are recognized. Do not call anyone an All-America selection unless he is listed on either the Camp or AP roster. Similarly, do not call anyone an All-America basketball player unless an AP selection. The first All-America basketball team was chosen in 1948. Use All-American when referring specifically to an individual. Use All-America when referring to the team.
AstroTurf: A trademark for a type of artificial turf
Athletic teams: Capitalize teams, associations and recognized names: Red Sox, the Big Ten, the A’s.
Baseball numbers: Some sample uses of numbers: first inning, seventh-inning stretch, 10th inning; first base, second base, third base; first home run, 10th home run; first place, last place; one RBI, 10 RBIs. The pitcher’s record is not 6-5. The final score was 1-0.
Baseball leagues: Use American League, National League, American League West, National League East, or AL West and AL East, etc. On second reference: the league, the pennant in the West, the league’s West Division, etc.
Betting Odds:Use figures and a hyphen: The odds were 5-4, he won despite 3-2 odds against him.
Knock out (v.) knockout (n. and adj.): A fighter is knocked out if he takes a 10-count. If a match ends early because one fighter is unable to continue, say that the winner stopped the loser. In most boxing jurisdictions there is not such thing as a technical knockout.
Bullpen:One word, for the place where baseball pitchers warm up, and for a pen that holds cattle.
Coach: lowercase in all uses, as a job description, not a formal title.
Collective nouns:Nouns that denote a unit take singular verbs and pronouns: class, committee, crowd, family, group, herd jury, orchestra, team. However, team names such as the Jazz, the Magic, the Avalanche, take plural verbs.
ERA: Acceptable in all references to baseball’s earned run average.
Filly: a female horse under the age of 5.
Football numbers: Use figures for yardage: The 5-yard line, the 10-yard line, a 5-yard pass play, he plunged in from the 2, he ran 6 yards, a 7-yard gain. But: a fourth-and-two play. The final score was 21-14. The team won its fourth game in 10 starts.
Golf numbers: Use figures for handicaps: He has a 3 handicap; a 3-handicap golfer, a handicap of 3 strokes; a 3-stroke handicap. Use figures for par listings: He had a par 5 to finish 2-up for the round, a par-4 hole; a 7-under-par 64, the par-3 seventh hole. The first hole, the ninth hole, a nine-hole course, the 10th hole, the back nine, the final 18.
Indoor (adj.) indoors (adv.): He plays indoor tennis. He went indoors.
Kentucky Derby:The Derby on second reference. An exception to the normal second-reference practice. Plural is Derbies
left hand (n.) left-handed (adj.) left-hander (n.)
Mare: A female horse 5 years and older.
Olympics: Capitalize all references to the international athletic contests: the Olympics, the Winter Olympics, the Olympic Games, an Olympic-size swimming pool. Lowercase games in the second reference.
Pingpong: a synonym for table tennis. The trademark name is Ping-Pong.
play off (v.) playoff, playoffs (n. and adj.): The noun and adjective forms are exceptions to Webster’s New World Dictionary, in keeping with widespread practice in the sports world.
postseason, preseason: no hyphen.
racket:Not racquet, for the light bat used in tennis and badminton.
right hand (n.) right-handed (adj.) right-hander (n.)
scores: Use figures exclusively, placing a hyphen between the totals of the winning and losing teams: The Reds defeated the Red Sox 4-3, the Giants scored a 12-6 football victory over the Cardinals, the golfer had a 5 on the first hole but finished with a 2-under-par score.
ski, skis, skier, skied, skiing
sports sponsorship: If the sponsor’s name is part of the sports event, such as Pepsi 500 or Buick Open, use the name in the title. If there is a previously established name commonly accepted for the event-Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl-use that name even if it currently has a corporate sponsor. However, mention the sponsor in an editor’s note at the end of the copy.
stadium, stadiums: Capitalize only when part of a proper name: Yankee Stadium
World Series: Or the Series on second reference.