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Paper writes story of star high school player's failure to graduate

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Den1983, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    Came across this Saturday. Newspaper in SE Texas writes story of star football player not graduating and walking with class due to not passing enough tests yet.


    Apparently the story was placed on 1A. Caused quite a furor on Twitter, with the former paper's SE attacking the paper and the story (written by his replacement) for exposing the kid.

    What say you, SportsJournalists.com? I'm on the side that there's no way this story gets run under my watch as SE. Serves neither party any good, is unnecessary, brings to spotlight a kid's academic ills, and sets a horrible precedent. Was curious to hear if there are any out there who actually would run with it.
  2. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    It seems that people would have noticed this particular kid's absence from graduation.

    Story says he has been studying and has a chance to pass the test.

    Also notes that he was a legit D-I prospect, but could not meet academic standards.

    Also includes his junior college plans.

    You bet this is a story. I probably lead the high school notebook with it, and give it good placement in sports. I don't put it on the front page.

    But then, I was lucky enough to not work in some insignificant burg where high school football was the main game in town.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Considering the player is a dimwit, since he couldn't make a D-I program due to academic reasons, I wouldn't run it. If he did commit to a D-I program and then failed to graduate, that's more of a story.
  4. Cubbiebum

    Cubbiebum Member

    Sure as hell would run it but sure as hell wouldn't be 1A or even the main story in sports. It's a story but not a big one. I'd run it below the fold in sports.
  5. JPW

    JPW New Member

    Before reading it I was thinking that the only way it was close to newsworthy was if it affected his status with playing football in the future.

    After reading it, that feels a little more tricky. Clearly grades have been a recurring story in his football career and many readers might even know that he is not attending a better school because of academic trouble. With his plan to attend a JC, it seems like less of a story. He is obviously taking that route because of similar issues and with more opportunities to pass the test it doesn't sound like graduating and enrolling at the JC will be a problem.

    I've never been a SE with a decision like this, but it seems to me that it could have gone either way. If you don't cover it a number of fans who were at the graduation are going to ask why you didn't; if you do cover it, it seems trivial and like you are piling on to a kid who has had plenty of issues already with grades.
  6. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I'd like to know where you guys work that the sports editor decides what stories run on 1A.
  7. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Well-Known Member

    Henry makes a very solid point. But, I think what's being missed is what state you're talking about here. High school football in football carries such power and emotion with people that at 2 a.m., I'm short of a proper metaphor to aptly describe it.

    In Texas, we start covering football before baseball season even ends. You sure as hell better know when your schools are having their spring games, or how they did in 7-on-7. Every summer, Dave Campbell's Texas Football has been published for the past 51 years, and every summer, you better buy a copy for the desk and for your bed stand.

    Now as for La Marque. LM has won five state titles and made 10 state championship appearances. I had never really heard of this kid, but I only started writing a few years ago and this state is only so big. But in 2011, he was the second-leading returning rusher in Class 4A. The guy in front of him, Johnathan Gray, is headed to Texas and broke so many records last fall it almost became impossible to keep count.

    Honestly in most states, I don't know if the story gets ran. But down here, you'd almost look stupid if you didn't run it somewhere. But to be honest, by the time it runs in the paper, chances are the whole city already knows about it.
  8. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    Agreed. I don't know whose decision it was. But I have fought battles when higher-ups wanted a story and won before if I didn't think something wasn't newsworthy. I don't know what the case is here.

    I would not have run the story. I just don't think it's newsworthy. Had he committed to A&M or OU and failed to graduate, OK, yeah it's a story. But he didn't. So now he's a kid who played football in high school who didn't graduate. Yes, he's a star, but I do think it's piling on. Serves no real purpose. Perhaps it's a blog item or something (maybe), but 1A or 1B (or whatever section sports is) story? Have a hard time seeing it.

    My other thing is the precedent it sets. You're traveling in murky waters now about running stuff where high school athletes fail to graduate or something to the like. It's just a high-risk decision. Very risky, IMO.
  9. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I agree it is not 1A material, no matter how seriously you take football in your area. Would a Rhodes Scholar candidate get the same treatment? But it is good to see the kids is taking the right steps, i.e. the juco route. That's what its there for, to help students (athletes and non-athletes alike) get ready for four-year schools.

    We had a football star bounce back from a FCS school to the local JC over academics, but chose not to write that. I didn't see a reason to. But when he started racking up some big numbers on the juco level, we had to run that. Of course, someone tried to turn it into a "you always favor Podunk East over Podunk West," on the message boards, with a twist basically saying we should be writing about how he was a "failure" and why don't we write about two kids from Podunk West who are "doing things the right way." Thank goodness our ME, who admits to not being a sports fan, spiked it. And I thought it strange the poster never named the two kids from Podunk West, or what school they were at!
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    It just seems like a dog-bites-man story to me. Tons of players fail to qualify academically. That's not to say the failure rate among student-athletes isn't a story necessarily. Maybe if this particular athlete's situation was used as a focus for a bigger piece on academics and athletics in general, I think it could be 1A-worthy.
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The editor in Galveston is likely a dipshit for allowing this on 1A. That's not suprising as I had an ME ask a couple of times about a softball match and track and field game I covered.
  12. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member

    So an 18-year-old kid should lose his privacy because a bunch of middle-aged men like watching him run around with a ball in his hand?
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