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So as you may have learned, my husband and I operate an online newspaper serving our community. My very first job in newspapers was as a sports writer (almost 40 years ago) and I got fired because I didn't know anything about sports. 

We launched our site a year and a half ago and still are trying to get a handle on how much time and attention to pay to high school sports, and I'd like your imput.

With all the stats often available online, and schools sometimes Tweeting out a play by play, what do you want from HS sports coverage? Do you want a play by play? Action photos of the games? comments from coaches? Comments from players? Would you rather read profiles of the players or fans or coaches or game coverage?

What do you want to read, what will COMPEL you to read?

Please keep in mind that I am further hamstrung by you folks drilling into my head that parents shouldn't talk to coaches. My kid is now two years out of high school and I interviewed his HS coach the other night, who finally said, you know, it's okay to call me and ask me stuff now. It's not about your kid. 

Anyway, hope some of you will respond and serve as my own little focus group. Thanks in advance.

Original Post


I read all the athletic profiles. Gender and sport doesn’t matter. Success tends to be relatable regardless of the sport. The stories are more interesting if the kid is about more (academics, community, overcame odds) than just sports. 

I also enjoy stories about team’s seasons and anniversary salutes of past seasons.

Last edited by RJM

What I grew up with was great: several paragraphs about a game from someone who was there, who got the facts straight and didn't play favorites.  The features in our local paper are great, but since its a weekly publication that tries to cover a large county it only covers the kids who are already well known.

I never paid any attention to local sports coverage, until my kids were in high school. Now I love local sports coverage. Our paper does game summaries, with quotes from players and/or coaches about the game. Some of them seem to be machine-written, or maybe written by the coach? We know the reporter isn't at all the games, especially the away games. They have a season preview about all the local teams for each sport, and a few individual profiles of key athletes each year for each sport. They do a preview before the in-town rivalry game in each major sport, usually with an interview with a senior on one or other team. As I list all this, I realize how awesome our local paper is. Their company is always being bought out, I hope we don't lose this local coverage.

I know that people read these articles, because our friends and neighbors would comment on my son's baseball games, sometimes brought us copies of the paper, if he had a picture in it.

This spring, with no high-school sports, they have been running lots of profiles about the student-athletes in all sports, mostly those who are going to play in college, at all levels. They always talk about their disappointment at losing their senior season, but also about their plans for the future. I have to say, it's uplifting.

Make sure you spread out coverage.  My son was all-everything in baseball and even I got tired of seeing his picture on the front of the sports page each week.  The funny part is they never did a real story about him and HIS story.  Which is pretty neat.  Yes he deserved to be on the front page because he normally led in everything but it was just boring after a while.  The sad part was they used his old picture a couple of games when he was not the star of the game.  Mix it up.  You can give details but team pictures or the hidden gem every now and then is good.  I think the true stories about the kids past and future is also good.  Have you ever done an indepth story on your son?

@PitchingFan posted:

Make sure you spread out coverage.  My son was all-everything in baseball and even I got tired of seeing his picture on the front of the sports page each week.  The funny part is they never did a real story about him and HIS story.  Which is pretty neat.  Yes he deserved to be on the front page because he normally led in everything but it was just boring after a while.  The sad part was they used his old picture a couple of games when he was not the star of the game.  Mix it up.  You can give details but team pictures or the hidden gem every now and then is good.  I think the true stories about the kids past and future is also good.  Have you ever done an indepth story on your son?

I kept the book, did the stats and wrote the article for the local paper. The awkward part was my son was typically in the middle of everything. He was the top player on the team. I wrote a legitimate article and emailed it to the coach for him to adjust and spread the credit around. This example of altering the story by the coach even made some of the dads laugh.

The team won the game 10-4. Billy scored a couple of runs. Bobby drove in a couple. Joey pitched well in relief. Billy, Bobby and Jay were repeat hitters. RJM Jr added two doubles, a homer and six RBI’s to the effort.

Hey Iowamom,

I'm part old school traditionalist so, for game coverage, I still like to see box scores and highlight summary.  While HS stats are available online, I think we are generally still at the point where mom and dad may subscribe but not many others.  So, there is still value in posting the information in the local paper (whether print, online or both) where friends and other family will see. Occasional game action pics are great and a key compelling draw .  Include in the summary any relevant league standing and overall record information, how the game may have impacted league race, etc.  Any quotes/interviews from players and coaches add personal interest and unique perspective. 

As far as play-by-play, a local TV station had a feed that would provide some of that, along with scoring updates, for Friday Night Football around the area and I was drawn in to follow that.  I just don't associate that with the local newspaper and it seems that would require more extensive efforts with networking resources, but I could be wrong.

Outside of specific game coverage, other things I like to see... weekly league standings/overall records, personal interest stories, pre-season team-by-team outlook, coverage of all-league, all-county (maybe even sponsorship of), etc., player college commitment updates, extra playoff coverage, etc.

Up until maybe four or five years ago, the local papers and TV stations did a pretty good job.  If I were to steal the best methods from various outlets and combine them for best coverage, these are the things that seemed to work best...

Try to make it out to games for each local team here and there, offering your own highlights, game summary, interviews, game pics/video, etc.  Of course you can't make it to every game.  But your presence at some games for each local team will cultivate better collaboration with the coaches/programs for gathering info remotely.  They'll know you are fully engaged and supportive.  Identify key contacts that can send you info in your absence.  As a HC, I used to get calls from the local media the same evening of games, usually while I was driving home from away games or finishing field prep at home games.  They would ask me to either read off to them the highlights and what players stood out (similar info as RJM describes) or have me send them an email or text with the info.  I would always have a few parents or friends of the program that loved taking pics send me the best of what they had for a given game and I would forward that with description of play/action along with my game recaps to the media.  That way, the media could cover most every game without having some one attend each.  I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new there. 

As things started to deteriorate with coverage in our area, the local media started getting lazy and basically telling us if we wanted coverage, submit our own info by X time.  That would have been OK if they would have been consistent with using the information.  But when they started only posting once in a great while, there was no incentive to continue posting.

In some areas, schools are either required or are pretty consistent with posting on MaxPreps.  I suppose info can be taken from there with the right approvals. 

 

Last edited by cabbagedad
@Iowamom23 posted:

So as you may have learned, my husband and I operate an online newspaper serving our community. My very first job in newspapers was as a sports writer (almost 40 years ago) and I got fired because I didn't know anything about sports. 

We launched our site a year and a half ago and still are trying to get a handle on how much time and attention to pay to high school sports, and I'd like your imput.

With all the stats often available online, and schools sometimes Tweeting out a play by play, what do you want from HS sports coverage? Do you want a play by play? Action photos of the games? comments from coaches? Comments from players? Would you rather read profiles of the players or fans or coaches or game coverage?

What do you want to read, what will COMPEL you to read?

Please keep in mind that I am further hamstrung by you folks drilling into my head that parents shouldn't talk to coaches. My kid is now two years out of high school and I interviewed his HS coach the other night, who finally said, you know, it's okay to call me and ask me stuff now. It's not about your kid. 

Anyway, hope some of you will respond and serve as my own little focus group. Thanks in advance.

 Besides stats, which can be boring for some, I love human interest stories about players and coaches!

Might take some homework, but pick up more readers for you.

My youngest plays golf as his sport, just played in our city tournament for the first time.  The newspaper always does coverage of this, partly because there is no high school or college sports going on.  This year we paid attention for the first time.  Really nice that the reporter comes and interviews people, even the kids, and their quotes get into the paper. 

It took me a while to become a baseball mom, and I now have to learn how to dress and act as a golf mom (it's different).  Let me say that while people here complain about "the dad behind the backstop," you haven't seen anything until you've seen a mom/dad caddying for his/her son at a golf tournament.  And no, I am definitely not that kind of mom!

TPM and Adbono;

The SF Giants in 1980 requested that pitch BP at Candlestick Park. The y play the Reds with John Bench and the "Big Red" machine. My son, Robert, age 10 was assign to the OF. After my 20 minutes of hitting the Giants bats I went to SS for ground balls. It had been 26 years since my games against the Willie Mays "All Stars"and my reflex actions were not the same.

When jack Clark hit the ball to SS I honestly could not place my glove on the ground "quickly". The difference in ML "bat speed" and the speed of the hit ball was "scary"

After my performance which resulted in a few "remarks" from the Coaches. My son favorite player was Bench. I garbed my camera from the dugout and walked in my Giants uniform to the Reds dugout and asked John, "Can i take a photo of you and Robert". "No problem

We have the photo to this day.

Bob

 

There are a couple things that I think make for a good sports (as a metaphor for life) story and either one will suck me in every time. 

1. A story of redemption. 

2. The story of an unlikely hero. 

I have been fortunate to be a part of a few sports stories that fall into those categories - both as a player and as a parent. They are significant events in my life and stories that I love to tell at the right time with the right audience. Although I must confess that one story about my youngest son is a challenge to tell without tearing up - especially as I get older! 

 

 

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