Editorial: Want your sport in the paper?Published 8:35am Friday, September 21, 2012
Each season we receive phone calls and emails from sports fans wondering why their favorite team isn’t getting enough coverage in the paper.
By their standards, of course.
Typically it’s family members of athletes, but not always, and ironically, they’re usually concerned about the teams that, in reality, receive the most coverage.
One of the top factors in how much coverage a program receives is its transparency. The teams whose coaches call in or email stats, comments and are willing to answer any and all questions get plenty of print in the newspaper.
The best example of this is Jim Boehmer, Lake Mills’ volleyball coach. Boehmer faxes in individual game and updated season stats after each match along with comments. Without asking, he updates us on North Iowa Conference award winners and who made All-State, honors we may otherwise be unaware of, and includes detailed descriptions of each player. We can take this information and easily turn it into stories on the fly.
Other coaches who run transparent programs are Albert Lea’s wrestling coach, Larry Goodnature, and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s girls’ basketball coach, John Schultz. These coaches go out of their way to provide us with information whether we ask for it or not.
Not all coaches are this way, even when it is in their job descriptions.
Some coaches will provide us with only a score or refrain from submitting stats and comments only after a loss. While the athletes’ parents may want a newspaper clipping for the fridge win or lose, most coaches don’t want to read the headline: “Team loses again” on the Sports page.
Coaches whose teams receive the most ink are transparent through thick and thin.
During the start of season, we make a fair attempt to cover each team at least once, but midway we focus on the competitive matchups and more successful teams. That’s what the sports audience favors, too.
While some parents may want to read their son or daughter’s name in the paper, the overwhelming majority of the audience — casual sports fans — would rather read about a team making a run at the state tournament rather than one riding a long losing streak.
We also keep in mind which sports draw people. Football, like it or not, is a sport that draws more fans to games than, say, cross-country or tennis. We, thus, are obligated to gravitate toward the sport with the greater audience demand.
We also make an effort to cover contests where two area teams face each other.
When we redesigned the newspaper for the start of 2011, we put the Scoreboard on the left side of the Sports page for box scores. It was then we decided to stop writing short stories about each event and include only box scores instead. While it may appear there are fewer stories on the Sports page than in the past, in reality, there’s more information. A complete box score contains the same, plus more information than a short story would.
This strategy gives us more space for the events we actually cover. While there are fewer headlines on the page, the main stories have more photos and in-depth reporting.
As for youth sports — younger than varsity — or for various local leagues of all ages — from church dartball to youth archery — we have always accepted submitted scores, stats, photos with captions and things like that. Sometimes, the parents in one age category in a sport get jealous of coverage in the paper from another category when, actually, that coverage was really nothing but submitted material. We urge parents and coaches of these organizations to send us photos and information.
It’s really simple: Photographs should be at least 200 ppi resolution. Bigger is better. Never embed photos in a Word document. Just send them as a JPG attachment in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stats, scores and summaries can be sent in Word documents or in the body of the email to the same address.