I do not write the following out of spite or anger. Nor do I write this because I’m a curmudgeon who gets a cheap thrill out of slamming people with biased rants. That’s just a coincidence.
The thing is, it can be frustrating covering amateur sports.
I don’t have the luxury of instant replays — or replays of any variety — or an army of statisticians to call upon. I have nothing but a notepad, a shoddy memory and the co-operation of coaches to help pump out stories.
And these days, I can’t even count on the co-operation of coaches.
Things usually go as planned, but sometimes things work as well as the Hindenburg’s fire-supression system.
Last week, covering Grade 9/10 volleyball at Porter Creek Secondary School was disaster — at least from a reporting point of view.
Not only were there a total of nine games taking place, but they were taking place three at a time in two different gyms.
And to make matters worse, I was also playing the part of a photographer!
I got the job done, but the coverage could have been better.
On Friday, the photo caption listed one player’s name and not the other.
There’s a good reason for this.
Sure, coaches love the coverage and love to see athlete’s names in print. But, before the name is printed, it has to be provided. (That’s a little something I learned on the job.)
With the exception of Vanier, which sent me full rosters for both of their 9/10 teams weeks ago (the day after my first request), I have not received a single team roster for the junior teams.
I handed out my business card to all coaches (except one) requesting a roster. I’ve received nothing, even after six days.
So when a player makes a game-winning play, it might go unmentioned because writing ‘Number 17 ripped a kill into the corner’ simply doesn’t work.
In many ways, especially for sponsors that love to see their name in the paper, I’m part of the team.
To provide the coverage that sponsors, coaches, athletes and the public (read parents) want, I need co-operation. A little simple teamwork.
Not only did I not receive a single roster last week for the 9/10s, two coaches left without speaking to me after promising an interview.
Now, I always thought I was charming and devilishly handsome. Now I learn that I’m forgettable.
I don’t think it was intentional — they’re busy people with lots on their minds. But it still hurts.
Luckily, I ran into the parking lot and flagged down one coach like a carjacker armed with a notebook. But the other disappeared and could not be reached by phone. So in the end, every single team except one received a little ink.
Another thing that impeded my coverage was the lack of competitive spirit among the coaches.
When did wanting to win become a bad thing?
All the coaches were feeding me the line: “Fun is our only goal.”
What a load of bunk.
First, sport is competitive. And when competing, the goal is the win — nobody plays to lose.
Second, winning is fun and rewarding — especially after a hard-fought match.
Third, a competitive drive is a good thing. Life is competition.
You compete for jobs, promotions, love, social standing — and just about everything else.
And, since you can’t win them all, developing the skills to deal with failure is essential — and that’s easily taught on the court, track or rink.
But, apparently, not here.
Here, most of the coaches cared so little about the score they forgot what it was. And sometimes they didn’t even know if they won — even scant moments after the match was done! No kidding.
It robbed the kids of a little well-deserved glory — since it’s impossible to watch three simultaneous games, the scores were omitted from the coverage too.
I’ve had coaches imply, or even outright say that I don’t need to provide scores in my coverage!
I hate to get all pedantic with you, but the score is important.
OK, I get it: the score doesn’t matter to you because player development (and of course fun) is your concern. That’s just dandy. But if I’m going to write an article, I need the score.
When you cut away the fat of a sports story focussed on a particular game, you are always left with the score.
It’s the teller of all truths.
Imagine reading about Phillies and the Tampa Rays — “It was a good game. Everyone had fun.”
How far would you read?
A similar problem often pops up when I request season records. “Forgetaboutit,” they say — we don’t care about records.
Coach, you might not care, but I do. A season record is simply the easiest, fastest way to determine how a team is performing and, believe it or not, most people care.
And to list some records and not yours is not fair to the players, fans and sponsors.
I prefer ranting about rich, idiotic athletes making poor life decisions, like Micheal Vick.
But local coaches in all leagues would do well to remember that sports coverage is a two-way street.