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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Blindly protecting young athletes not always a good option

I still searching for what the parents of high school athletes want?
Is it good solid coverage or is it publicity?
I'm really beginning to think it's publicity. And if that's the case, you may be looking in the wrong place.
One of the most common e-mails is "why don’t you write about Johnny or Julie."
Apparently covering "Johnny" or "Julie," or their schools, isn’t exactly what parents want.
Recent prep state championships have been exciting, especially for local squads. And I have to hand it to sports editor Scott Ferrell. He did a wonderful job managing out "work force" to cover every state tournament game (baseball and softball) -- despite the fact games were spread out all over the state. If you had a kid playing, we were there. Try that with two reporters and Scott. We not only provided a story (two, three or four stories in some cases), but live updates with virtually inning-by-inning action.
That was well and good -- until your team lost. Or in a few unbelievable cases, won.
Then the "why don't you write about Johnny and Julie" e-mails turned into "did you have to mention this error, or that base running mistake?"
The answer: Yes. That's our job.
Just like we write "Julie went 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBIs," we will put, "the game ended on an error" or whatever. It's called bringing the news to the people. Sometimes the mistake is more crucial to the outcome than the home run, that's just the way it is.
We are not a publicity machine. And if "Johnny" or "Julie" plan on advancing their academic or athletic career beyond high school, we will seem extremely nice compared to fans and some journalists at an SEC level for example.
Nothing is off limits in big-time college sports. And in life, too.
Blindly protecting and defending the kids isn't necessarily the best option -- hello Mrs. Mustain.Mistakes happen, and kids can learn from them, but only if they realize a mistake has been made. If others shield the kids from the truth, that's an injustice.
We'll be glad to write about your sons and daughters and teammates, in fact I think I can speak for my teammates in saying we love it. That's why we're in this business -- to write about sports; the personalities and the competitions.
Just don't blame us for doing so.


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