I've been watching myriad basketball games the last several days. The NCAA tournament always gets my attention. Our team, Kansas State, only got to play in the first round. They had a formidable opponent in Kentucky, who beat them but only by several points, not a blowout. Sad but not the end of the world.
Kids and sports are a natural fit. Young kids look up to the older ones and try to copy them on the football field, basketball court or when kicking a soccer ball around the field. This afternoon, I got to thinking about the fertile ground for fiction for kids that centers on sports. Two of my grandchildren love to be part of a sports program, whatever the season might be. It follows that they would enjoy reading about other kids in sports. These stories are entertaining but also incorporate a thin thread of a life lesson. Note, I said 'thin' as the one thing kid magazine editors harp on is to not be 'preachy' when writing a story for kids as they'll tune out fast if you do.
There are a lot of different angles a writer might use for a story of this type. Write about the kid who is always the last one to be picked on a team and how he deals with it. Or how about the hot shot who lords it over the others until something happens to make him see life from the other side of the fence? A story about a conflict with a coach would fit right in today's world. Coaches and players don't always see eye to eye. Another story line might be about a father who pushes his son to play in sports when the boy much prefers dabbling in the arts.
The sports stories aren't limited to boys. The girls' sports world expands every year. Jealousy can raise its ugly head between girls on teams. How is Susie going to deal with it? How is Mary Lou going to keep from cheating when the opportunity presents itself? What about the girl who wants to try out for a team but is too shy to make that first move?
There are lots of story lines for fiction sports stories for kids but you needn't stay totally with fiction. A profile piece on a well-known player or one just coming up through the ranks would make a good article to pitch to an editor. Try one on a local high school player for your community newspaper.
Do a search for children's magazines that use sports stories, both fiction and nonfiction. The one thing I would caution any writer delving into this field is to have some knowledge of the sport you're going to write about. You don't need to know lots of specifics as much as knowing something about the game so that you can write intelligently about it. If you're not sure of part of your story, find an expert and check it out. Kids will catch your errors mighty fast. It's not easy to fool them.
I've written dozens of stories for kids but I've never tried one that uses sports as a base. Maybe it's time I gave it some more thought. How about you? What's a sport you understand and like? Baseball--soccer--tennis--golf--basketball--football--bowling?