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Good player, awful team

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HejiraHenry, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    New one for me to wrestle with - a dad who's insistent we need to need to write a feature story about his freshman (!) daughter, the best basketball player on her team.

    Her team is 0-10 after Tuesday night and everyone I've talked to says the team is worse than that.

    Dad says she's averaging "almost" a triple double every night. In the back of my head, I wonder if she's trying to do too much, but I haven't yet seen her play.

    We have about 50 basketball-playing schools in our coverage footprint, but maybe 30 of those that we really cover. The way I see it, every other team is going to wonder when we're spilling a barrel of ink about their best player. At the heart of it, though, he's tub-thumping for a AAU team she's on and that seems to be the reason he's been pestering me.

    I've taken a pass on a story for now, but just to be sure we're not missing on the next Dawn Staley, I think I will try to catch one of their games pretty soon and see for myself.
  2. djdennisOU

    djdennisOU Member

    Does she play on the Varsity level? I'm a young buck in the professional world, but everything I've seen and have been told would say if she's not at the very least JV, it doesn't warrant a story. Especially if your coverage area includes so many schools/teams. Probably a good idea to check a game out though, just in case she is a future star!
  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Do you have a good relationship with her coach, or better yet some of the coaches her team plays against? Might be worth mentioning it to them and gauging their reaction. You don't need to interview them, just ask them conversationally. If she's actually any good or a future star they can tell you.
    djdennisOU likes this.
  4. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Active Member

    Is the dad the head coach? Does her team play other schools you cover?

    If her dad isn't the head coach, call the coach up and ask about her. Just inquiring about her doesn't mean you have to do a story. Don't even mention that her dad has been pestering you. If your paper still does high school box scores, check out some of her previous stats and ask about them.

    If her school plays others you cover, see if they match up with a good team that you would typically cover. Go to that game, ostensibly to write about the good team, and evaluate the girl yourself.

    All of this is with one big caveat: If she isn't on the varsity squad, then there's zero story.
  5. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    Herny, based on the facts you state in the OP, if I was reading that email or listening to the voicemail from Daddy, I'd delete it and forget it for now, and for every other email he sends. Freshman plays well on winless girls team that draws dozens of fans every night doesn't rank high in news value to me. Worth no more than a blurb in a roundup. I'd keep on eye on her for next season or further down the road. I'm sure there are far more intriguing, important and interesting stories at your other 29 schools.
  6. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    If she is actually a legit player, that could be a good story. Does she feel the pressure of having to carry her team every night? And does the she feel the frustration of playing her guts out and putting up these numbers only to lose every night? How do her teammates feel as far as trying to live up to her performance?
  7. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. Other coaches will know if she's worth a crap. If you ask them off the record you can get a better read on what kind of player she really is. If she's really good, you'll probably be able to get one of them to give you a good quote on the record.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Some good suggestions here.
    Dad is not the coach. She is playing on varsity.
    I will take a further look, as I said.
  9. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    Had a parent four years ago tell me excitedly that "these girls totally rule AAU and MAYB tourneys. Can't wait 'til they're in high school -- they'll win state easy.

    Went 0-21 their freshman season (four frosh starters), won two games as sophomores and two more last year. They're seniors now and average at best.

    Parents are biased. Everyone think their kid and four others are the best on the team.

    Seeing is believing, but I wouldn't even go out of my way to watch her. If she's that good, they wouldn't be 0-10.
    SFIND likes this.
  10. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    We had a kid run for 1,600 yards for an 0-10 team this fall. We did a feature on him. Suppose part of it is if you have an angle to work with, which we did with this guy. Well, actually the angle is something which would be universal for kids in his position -- how do you get schools to notice you when your team is pathetic?
  11. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Had something like this happen to me, parental involvement wasn't part of it. There was a great player for a team that was struggling, he was an all-everything kind of player, and since they were playing the dominant team in the league (both were in our footprint) I told the coach of the winning team I was going to focus the gamer on this one player even though they lost. I could only write so many stories about his team's dominance (they were no. 2 in California that year) - the winning coach was totally cool with it and I didn't hear a blip of people upset about it. I have no problem with spreading it around and finding good stories wherever they are. Team standings shouldn't be how we determine coverage.
    jr/shotglass likes this.
  12. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    There's the bottom line. I wouldn't dictate what you write by the standings. Go where the stories are.
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