By Mark Carpenter –
“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people’s accomplishments, the front page nothing but man’s failures.”
The above quote didn’t come from a sports figure, but from former Chief Justice Earl Warren. The quote that has long been used to celebrate the importance of sports journalism. It is carved into the wall at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., a museum dedicated to American journalism. It hangs on the wall near the sports desk in many college newsrooms and it serves as a reminder and a declaration that the sports page plays an important role in journalism.
Now I am certainly not going to brag that the sport pages are more important than the front page, especially when you have as outstanding a front page writer as we do here at the Defender, but it’s National Newspaper Week and we are celebrating our entire publication, but personally, I’m happy that we have these sports pages.
As editor, my philosophy is not to flood the front page with “man’s failures” as Justice Warren said, but to try and focus on as much positive as our county can provide. In the sports pages, it is always positive. Yes, we have winners and loser in each contest we report on, but we focus on every student-athlete as a winner. As I have stated many, many times, sports is our temporary escape from reality, even if current events have done their best to catapult sports into the political realm.
That’s not my job here. The local high school athletes who I cover are not going to be making political statements anytime soon, at least I hope not. Let’s keep it pure and simple here in the county. Play for the love of the game and the memories that you are making every day. You do that and I will write about as much of it as I can, though some people still think I am some kind of Superman who can cover every single sporting event in the county. Let me assure you that my chest is only carrying around extra fast-food weight, not a giant “S”.
There is something different about high school sports-no professionals, no big contracts, just kids having fun, at least I hope they are. I have done the “parent” in high school sports part of my life and yep, I’d love to do it all over again. So knowing that, I try my best to make these sports pages a memory for all of the athletes and their parents, something they can keep for those days when they try to convince their children and grandchildren that they really were athletes when they were younger. There are sure plenty of photographs for you to use as evidence and I am definitely flattered when I am asked to use my pictures in a yearbook or a scrapbook or a senior board. Something to celebrate!
If you ask my mother, you will find out that I learned to read at a very early age and continued that process by bringing the sports page of the Cincinnati Post (remember that one?) with me to the dinner table, a practice which most would frown on today, when of course it is your phone at the dinner table. I grew up reading the two Cincinnati papers and my all-time favorite, The Sporting News. I gobbled up every sports book and magazine that I could and I honestly think today that my ability to write sports stems from all of that reading. There you go kids-if you learn to read, you will learn to write. See, you can even get good advice on the sports pages.
So, as we are in the midst of celebrating National Newspaper Week, a week that is pretty important to the folks here in this office because it celebrates what we do day in and day out and that is provide our readers with the best news and sports coverage that we possibly can. That is our task and we know the responsibility that comes with it. Are we always perfect? No, but we will always deeply appreciate all of the subscribers and readers that enjoy our two papers a week and know that we owe you all a debt of gratitude and national Newspaper Week is a time to celebrate all of you. We thank you for your support.
Writing this column on Monday afternoon means just one thing, I must quickly move on to the next project, which in this case is a story on a Friday night football game. It doesn’t get any better than that. My own personal celebration of the sports pages, hope you enjoy