What High School Soccer Can Teach You About Content Strategy
Trista Perot
March 8, 2024

It’s not something I talk about much, but many moons ago, I earned my undergraduate degree in news writing and editing and worked as a reporter. Journalism in those days was devoid of opinion; both sides were equally represented, and fact-checking was essential. The ground rules were known: news was a statement of fact, op-ed pieces were for the opinion column, and feature writing was for human interest stories and lifestyle reviews. You generally trusted the reporting system and could form your opinions based on truths.

We didn’t know how good we had it in the early 90s. I’ve never been more nostalgic for those days than I am in this AI-generated mess of blasé content that may or may not be true and influencers posing as experts to tell us what to buy or do.

If I come off as a curmudgeon, so be it. I am increasingly irritable when I read vaguely interesting articles based on lame facts and incorrect statements. I’m sure you’ve found yourself committed to reading an article searching for something to keep you engaged, when you finally abandon the page because it’s just plain boring – and immediately wish you had your 2 minutes back.

We expect value from our content in the form of entertainment, education, or affirmation, whether the content is “media” or company-sponsored branded content. If you hit two of those three categories (or more), then you’ve got something sharable and engaging. But if your content is boring and wrong, you’re bound to miss the mark—and maybe make it viral for all the wrong reasons. And that erodes trust.

If you’re in B2B, boring is a fine line you may walk all too often. To make matters more challenging in this influencer era, people are drawn to personalities who are passionate about things they are interested in and who push the boundaries more than everyone else. Your content doesn’t have to be polarizing to be interesting, but it shouldn’t be thin. Providing value is essential. Boring is bad.

Since it’s the morning after a soccer bender, I’ll use this playoff recap to illustrate how I, as a former newsie, recommend you approach every piece of content whether you’re creating a whitepaper, a blog post, a webinar, etc. This referenced article appeared in the Dallas Morning News.

The headline and subhead are likely purposefully concise, but the header assumes it’s understood that it references playoffs for two different athletic divisions. It sets the stage for what I’m about to read, but the California transplants are probably confused already and will just skip it.

The article begins by touting the phenom (Bryant) who led the Ursuline team to its second back-to-back title in a 4-0 rousing of another local team, one that they pummeled with shutouts twice earlier that season.

I’m okay with that as the beginning.

Then, it off-handedly mentions that this is their 30th state title.

I looked it up; this was Ursuline Academy’s 30th state title for women’s soccer since 1991. That, to me, is burying the lead on what could be an interesting feature piece—one that could provide some valuable inter-site linkage to keep readers on the page. I’m confident that alumni and families who are enrolled at Ursuline Academy would read a companion article celebrating that significant milestone, and in turn, it would double the dwell time for that user session and help to position the DMN as an “expert” in the private school athletics area. This would give it a nod to Google’s EEAT (Experience, Expert, Authority, and Trustworthiness) evaluation.

It then details the plays that helped Ursuline win the final game and how they went about winning the championship game the year before. There is no link to last year’s recap, by the way, yet another missed on-site linking opportunity.

Next, there are a few obligatory and predictable quotes thrown in from the coach, the phenom, etc. Pretty standard stuff.

But much later in the story, it says this:

Given that the article mentions that Ursuline’s regular season matchups with their championship challenger had resulted in wide lead shutouts, wouldn’t you be interested in knowing how the one team that gave them a run for their money  – Parish Episcopal  — squared up against them during the year? This reporter was not.

And that’s all that’s mentioned about Parish Episcopal which is a shame and here’s why. Much later in the content, this factually incorrect section was included:

What this writer’s “research” left out is where the real gold is. Parish actually played in the same semi-final game against Ursuline the year before where the game went to double OT and PK’s. In anyone’s near memory, Parish hadn’t advanced in season and tournament play that far, and they found themselves in the unlucky David and Goliath seeding position again in 2024 to face off against the Ursuline team – a team from an all-girls school that is twice the size of Parish’s co-ed enrollment. Not only did they provide the “toughest test” in playoffs, Parish also had the lowest goal differential against Ursuline for both regular seasons leading up to those semi-final games.


Aside from the above background, an interesting companion piece to the Ursuline back-to-back victory might be, “What’s going on with girls’ soccer at Parish to effect this unexpected turnaround that threatened their 30thtitle?” Could it be the hall-of-fame coach that came on the scene for Parish last year? Could it be a young talent wave? Will we see Parish be the only true challenger to UA for a third year?”

Clearly there’s a lot left unsaid.

Maybe the reporter was bored talking about a dynasty that is likely older than he is, but this is just a small illustrative example of why I believe that the mainstream press is dying. They’re no longer curious; they’re disconnected about what their audience is interested in, and they could really brush up on their SEO skills.

This lazy, uninspired, and unchecked writing will be the final nail in the coffin for the legacy news outlets. Similarly, this will also be the demise of companies that rely on surface-level content to drive their lead flow. It’s just not effective anymore.

Aside from a proud soccer mom’s rant, what analogies can I offer from this example? There are several content best practices to discuss:

  • Don’t let AI write all your content, but let it help. I suspected that the news writer used AI to come up with the article so I played with Chat GPT to see what it would say regarding the UA v Parish matchup. Surprisingly, it offered more factual information than the real article did. If the writer had used AI output and blended it with the interviews he included with the original article, this would have been a much stronger piece.
  • Fact-check your content. If you’re in marketing, make sure you run that blog post by the product specialist before it’s released to the wild (especially when utilizing AI). Is it deep enough technically to resonate with your ideal decision-maker? Are you hitting the relevant pain points that sales speaks to every day? Yep, it’s an extra step, but one that will pay off. And in this soccer instance, the DMN writer wouldn’t have gotten a correction request (which as of this writing has been ignored) or been called out on X.
  • Quality over quantity. Maybe the soccer writer was on deadline, but you certainly have the ability to slow down and be genuinely curious about your subject matter. If you think your content is done, go back and review it again from another angle or ask your mom to read it and give you feedback. She’s the perfect litmus test for where you may need additional explanation to help a less informed reader or to feed the search engines. Ask yourself, is it good or good enough? I lean to less quantity of content in favor of more quality content.
  • Create companion articles help your audience to consume more of your content. I take clients through an exercise to thematically draw out topics their audience would engage with, asking is there more to discuss that would make this content collection better than average? Is there a hidden element that would make the reader/viewer curious? Using this soccer story as an example, we would be discussing what other supporting content would keep the private school readers on the site longer.
    • What’s the history of Ursuline’s athletic success in girls’ soccer? How many coaches? How many former players went on to play in college?
    • Does the dynasty transcend across all of its sports?
    • Why hasn’t Ursuline moved to UIL to match up against public schools, (a move Hockaday and Jesuit made), rather than stay in TAPPS?

Robust stories or story collections are shareable and conversation-worthy. When you can achieve deeper consumption, you’re developing a loyal relationship with your audience, creating a greater change for them to buy from you in the future. Plus, Google likes long-form content and it demonstrates your level of authority.

  • Passionate messaging is a magnet. We’ve been conditioned to thrive in the experience of the moment. Influencers know this and craft their business around it. They each have a distinctive style and format that works for them. Approach your content as a successful influencer would because if your brand lacks differentiation and your content is clinical, you’ll be lost in an ocean of mediocre content that your competition is publishing too.

Like it or not, your content is competing with more and more information every day. People and search engines have to make a choice on where to invest their attention – stepping up your content strategy will help you win the playoffs for search results and click throughs.

Trista Perot

Trista Perot

Trista is a marketing expert with over 30 years of experience working with companies to develop and execute innovative marketing strategies to drive business growth. Her unique ability to blend creativity with data-driven insights has helped countless businesses maximize their marketing efforts and stand out in crowded markets.