By Mark Carpenter –
Let me begin this column by saying that I am not a huge fan of social media, even though it has become a necessary evil in the business world. Airing all your personal stuff for all to see is not that appealing, but when it hits close to home, then I have to pay attention and when someone questions our sports coverage here at the paper, I tend to get my dander up a bit. You really shouldn’t criticize the process without understanding the process. (Apology accepted by the way.)
The first thing one should notice is my job title-Editor/Sports Editor. I dare you to find another one of those anywhere, I haven’t yet. As that title implies, I have many more responsibilities here at the paper than just Sports. In fact, sports has almost become the second job to me and that part I really don’t care for, but as they say, it is what it is. In fact, I am writing this column at 6 o’clock on a Monday evening, alone in this office, frantically trying to get the Sports pages finished so that I can meet my wife later for dinner after she gets off work. At her second job might I add, which may also tell you a little about being a teacher and Editor/Sports Editor, but again, it is what it is.
Let me try to explain the process I use when trying to cover as many of the county’s sporting events as I possibly can. I looked at the daily schedule that I put together every week and last week there were over 35 different events involving the four county schools. Now If you can figure out a way for me to get to all those, other than finding a phone booth where I can slip into my Superman outfit, please let me know. I have to pick and choose and I try to make that process as fair to all the schools as I can, but allow me to let you in on a little secret that likely holds true for most high school sports writers. The schools that are the most helpful are going to get the best coverage. It’s as plain as that.
What do I mean? Well, again as any high school sports writers will tell you, a large majority of what we do depends on information that we get form the various coaches. One county school makes media cooperation part of their coaches evaluation, therefore you tend to see them a lot in the paper because their coaches are excellent at getting me post game information and it doesn’t take much information for me to make a story, I have that talent, but believe it or not, there are coaches that I never hear one word from. I am not hard to find (firstname.lastname@example.org) and at some point in the season, I won’t beg any more for info. If you want to see your teams get the publicity that they all very much deserve, send the stuff. Just look through the scoreboard on the next page and you will be able to figure out who I hear from most often.
There seems to be some question as to why I don’t have more youth and pee-wee sports in the paper and that is a tough one to let go. I may be wrong, but I am willing to bet that in the past few years I have had more pee wee and youth sports coverage than any paper in southern Ohio. I truly wish that I could attend more of those events, but I do have to stop and breathe sometime. Lately I have been working 6-7 days a week and it had been more than a little draining, physically and mentally, but I will do it to make our paper the best in the area, which I believe it is. When it comes to pee-wee and youth sports, I really have to rely on parents and their cameras. In this day and age, everyone has a camera, usually carried in our pockets. Use them, send them to me, tell me who, what, when, and where, and I will likely get it in the paper. Simple.
To those who comment that I favor one school over another, I don’t really know how to respond. If that is the case, I apologize, but I don’t think it is. At the beginning of every season, my goal is to first see every high school team play and get them in the paper. Once that is done, I have other factors that go into my decision, not the least of which is the ability to get the editor duties completed and get out of the office in time. I look for the best game available and if it involves two county teams, I call that a ”two for one.” If I am really tired from a hectic day in the office, like I am right now, I may end up in Manchester, only because I live in Brown County and that makes my drive home shorter. If I am in West Union, it is because it is just five minutes from the office and easy to get to on time. If I am in North Adams or Peebles, I had the energy to make the longer drive or Tony Williams has a spot saved at the table for me. (That’s important too.) Yes, I know you all are tired from your work days too, I am just giving you my reasoning.
It was even brought up that I was favoring West Union and Manchester because their junior high football game was on our front page last week. Notice the headline-”Defender Bowl.” That is a game that we sponsor and provide the trophy for, something no one else does. So it would only make sense that we want to publicize the game as much as we possibly can. Five years we have sponsored the Defender Bowl and I haven’t heard too may complaints.
Let me explain another sacrifice of the job, and I know I am not the only one who deals with this. I am not home very often. I know my wife didn’t picture “empty nest” as me and the kids both being gone, but that is how it usually works out. Glad she has the dog to keep her company, especially now as she is hobbling around with broken bones in her foot. I miss my kids too, seems when they are home I am at work, but again, I am not the only one that deals with that.
My son will text me occasionally, which keeps us in touch, with the topic sports 99% of the time. Here’s a recent sampling, “Giants losing so far”, “Mets went kinda wild today”, “He had two wins in the World Series”, good catch to end it”, having a good week in yahoo”…you get the idea. I know where my daughter goes to work every day so I don’t fret too much about her, even though she is struggling with all this “adulthood” stuff.
I will continue to work as hard as I can to give our readers the super product that they deserve, in both sections of the paper, and like any job, I know I will never make everyone happy. Let me finish this column with a Facebook comment to me from former Manchester basketball coach Aaron Lockhart.
“I’ve said it for years, the youth of Adams County are fortunate to have you. You go above and beyond, from high school down to the pee wee programs, even continuing to report on the ones that go off to college and continue to play their sport, putting in countless hours making sure that the youth are recognized. I appreciated you when I coached and still do, keep up the great work!”