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Podunk's Top 10 athletes of all-time

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Brookerton, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

    I'm putting together the top 10 athletes of all-time from each school in our area.
    I'm trying to decide if the top 10 should be based on the athlete's accomplishments in just high school or if it should be their entire career — high school, college and pro.

    Any thoughts?
  2. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Generally, I think it's better if you use overall accomplishments for these features -- not just those accomplished while in the area. (And I will say this: I love these type of projects. Love 'em.)

    Otherwise, you're likely going to face heavy criticism when you put a four-time All-State and two-time All-America running back who never played pro ball over the three-time All-State linebacker who's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not that I've ever seen that done before ... 8)

    Make sure you mention the little-known guys who were studs in your area. But I wouldn't put prep legend Joe Schmoe over a Tom Brady. Makes the list look a little ridiculous, but that's just me.
  3. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I think post high school accomplishments should factor in somewhat, if nothing else as a tiebreaker. Let's say you have two baseball players that you rate in a dead heat for the list. One went on to play in college. The other went on to work in the local factory and Rec softball fame. I'd give the nod to the guy that had a college career.
  4. The Granny

    The Granny Guest

    That depends, we talking real softball or that 12-inch crap?
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Yeah, it will be a more interesting piece if you have a local kid who went on to notoriety at the college or pro level. Old-time coaches are great resources for this type of story. One guy might have been a three-sport stud in high school, but if another guy became a Division I star or made the pros, I would give the nod to that guy.

    The thing is, both aspects of the story are interesting. The guy who made it in the pros is an interesting story for obvious reasons and so is the guy who was the QB, point guard and shortstop who made all-state in HS only to go on to a career plunging toilets or putting up satellite dishes.
  6. A lot of good stuff right there.
    Like Buck, I also LOVE this kind of stuff.
    It would help to include the opinions of veterans coaches, sports historians and/or members of a local sports hall of fame if you have one.
    We did that with a couple of teams and got about 20 old coaches in a room together for dinner. We asked each coach to bring a top 10 list to consider and discuss. They came up with a good list and I got a shitpile of great stories - as a byproduct- out of them -- like the time a game was delayed by a gang of feral chickens.
    One of the old vets, ended up drawing out offensive plays for a relatively new coach for an offense they were putting in.
    I have done a few of these things and would be willing to send you any additional help. PM me if you're interested.
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    I also enjoy these types of stories/features. Another good tip is when you find some all-time greats from the area, be sure to ask them who their toughest opponents were when they played for Podunk High. If the guy who's mentioned is still in the area, he'll probably pick up six copies of the paper just for that quote!

    And Granny, I know exactly what you mean. Real softball is played with a Clincher and without gloves.
  8. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

    Thanks for all the tips. I grew up in the area I cover now, so I know the athletes and history pretty well. So this is a fun project for me.
    I'm still early in the process of doing this. I went through all the schools and made a list of candidates. I just e-mailed the lists to the ADs and other long-timers at school. I've gotten some good feedback and some coaches have told me they are excited to see the finished product.
  9. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    Consider the entire body of work -- HS, college, pro.
    And whatever you decide, make sure to specify the criteria in a prominent display item in print. Better yet, put the criteria online as soon as you decide. Promote the project and let everybody know up front how you're going to make decisions.
  10. Be sure and get some feedback from your readers. We did an all-time all-area team at my old paper for our football section a few years ago. If not for some help from our readers, we would have forgotten about some pretty important ones.
  11. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    If you're picking the best athletes at each high school, it should be based on high school performance only.

    And here's the perfect reason:

    There is a guy from our area who, despite being 6-11, did not start a single game his senior year in high school. But because he was 6-11, he got a college scholarship offer and developed into a fair, at best, center. He was drafted in the seventh round by a NBA team and an ABA team in 1971. He opted for the ABA figuring he had a better chance to make it there.
    He ended up having a 15-year ABA/NBA career, won a championship in each league, averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds for his career, was always considered a valuable role player even when he was a starter in the ABA.

    And to this day if we did a list of the Top 100 (maybe even 200) high school basketball players from our county, nobody would ever think to include him. And he wouldn't be in the top 25 athletes from his high school.
  12. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    I agree with spinted. I have a similar story. When I did an all-time all-area girls basketball team, we left off the only local to have played in the WNBA. She got a scholarship offer to the local midmajor because she was 6-4 and incredibly athletic (she was a terrific volleyball player) and any success she had in HS basketball was because of her height. She goes to the midmajor and becomes a decent contributing player. She shone in the NCAA tournament her senior year and she made a WNBA team as an undrafted free agent. But she wasn't one of the top 10 girls basketball players, let alone overall athletes, in school history. So make it high school accomplishments only and I would tend toward the stories of the players who didn't make it big. Obviously, if Ken Griffey Jr or Herschel Walker played HS ball in your area, they are in the top 10 athletes. If you simply go by "body of work," the teams get a lot easier to pick since you largely look at who succeeded in college/pros and I think the readers lose out. That's a list any reader can come up with.

    I would make it a point to do everything you can to get a quote about how good Player X from someone other than a teammate or coach. Take the following quote: "Player X was unstoppable. I don't care if you put all 11 guys in the box, he was going to break tackles. He was strong as an ox and might as well have had brass knuckles under his uniform." If it his coach saying it, it sounds like hyperbole. If the coach at a rival high school says it, it becomes high praise. Talk to long-time refs and umpires since they have no dog in the fight and their quotes praising a player would be even more powerful.

    I love this stuff and I think readers do too.
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