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Prep reporters, chime in please

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Norman Stansfield, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    School I covered won it's first game in two years. I was the only reporter there to witness it, so they weren't about to say no.

    Plus, I've known the coaches for years.
  2. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    I started out on the sidelines so I could shoot my own photos. When that burden was lifted off my shoulders, I headed straight to the pressbox. Most of the competition in my first few years never did the sidelines thing, so I thought it was sort of a prestige factor to be in the pressbox.

    What I found is that there's really not much going on in the pressbox. While you have a better view of the field, you're so far removed from the action that you may as well be watching it from your couch. Some things become a mystery from the pressbox. I've now decided that the sidelines are the place for me.

    But there is one catch. I leave my laptop in the pressbox and run up to start my gamer at halftime.
  3. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    One other advantage to the sidelines.

    At the end of games, you are already on the field.

    If you're in the box, you have to fight the people to get down OR leave at the three minute mark and try to jot down stats/action while youre climbing down the stands.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I've had good results with both. It kinda depends on the facility.

    Thinking back, I've tended to sit in the box for home games at places where I know it'll be reasonably quiet and organized.

    On the road, I usually worked the sidelines.
  5. Stupid

    Stupid Member


    My stats must be right.
  6. Oz

    Oz Well-Known Member

    Depends on the situation.

    For night games, it's always the press box. That gives me the chance to set up files and get started on the story, not to mention add scoring plays to the boxscore as the game progresses. I can see where the ball is spotted better than on the sidelines, where a shorty like me (5 foot 7) might not be able to see through the trees that are high school kids. And those long plays, I hate running down the sideline to make sure I get the correct spot -- not that I'm out of shape, but it seems like energy wasted. I catch everything from a pressbox and usually have more accurate stats.

    Also, if the town I go to has snacks or homemade soup or hot chocolate provided by parents in the press box, that tends to sway my opinion.

    That said, if it's 2 p.m. on a nice Saturday afternoon with the chance to file from my desk not on deadline, then I will go walk the sidelines. Especially if my priest strolls the sidelines of Podunk Catholic's games -- he's always got jokes, not to mention inside stories, that I could ask coaches and players at later dates for features. And the same applies for other people who I know on sidelines. They have good info to share sometimes, and are usually pretty open with it.
  7. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    Press box for me. I'm not tall enough to see over even the short high school kids (I'm 5-foot-3). All the local games start at 7:30 as well, which means I'm writing as the game goes on.

    I'm lucky that I cover a good-sized high school in a state that takes its football quite seriously. All the press boxes I've encountered have been adqueate.
  8. BillySixty

    BillySixty Member

    I rarely, if ever, mention blocking patterns in my story. There are lots of things I see while on the sidelines I don't mention in my game story, but they all give me a better feel for the game. I appreciate a team's offense/defense game plan more. I can see why things work and don't work. I can hear coaches talking about adjustments. I can hear players talk smack to each other. I get clarifications from officials on rules interpretations. I get instant injury reports by just watching. And, if I'm real polite, the defensive coordinator will give me some sunflower seeds.

    In all, I'm able to tell a much better story the closer I am to the action. And that's probably what the readers want the most. Just sayin'.
  9. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    With a few exceptions based on certain stadiums, I prefer to walk the sidelines.

    Quicker chance at quotes, injury report is easier to get and I might even get something useful quotewise after a team scores a touchdown or makes a big play during the game.
  10. BH33

    BH33 Member

    There's good and bad to both, but if there's a press box I'm in there. I have to have accurate stats, and I do a better job up there because I see better. I also like sitting up there because I can get work done on the laptop during the game instead of doing it all afterward.

    One factor that nobody has brought up, however, is the condition of the field. If you're at a stadium with that new AstroPlay turf, the yard lines are easy to see. if it's a mud pit, you're better off on the sidelines.

    It's definitely a personal preference, but there are several reasons I prefer the press box:

    1. It's easier to keep stats, especially if the field is in good condition. On a long pass play, I can spend my time figuring out the yardage and writing notes instead of sprinting down the field before they snap the ball again. It's easy to tell how many yards were gained by watching the refs, and I've never had an issue identifying a ball carrier. If you don't see who gets the ball on the handoff, wait until the play is over and see who gets up last.

    2. Getting started on your box/story during the game.

    3. Watching plays develop. Whoever wrote that its easier to see receiver routes on the sidelines, I don't get that. Why do you think head coaches are wearing headsets? it's to talk to the guys upstairs who actually can see what's going on. You see everything from the press box.

    4. You get good insight in the press box sometimes, too. The one I'm usually in has an assistant coaches' booth right next door, with about a 1-inch wall in between. I can everything they say (scream), and have often picked up things from hearing them.

    5. Picking up trends. Some things I've been able to get from sitting in the box that I wouldn't have got on the sidelines: a) how many times Team A ran out of the shotgun and their effectiveness in that set; b) noticing that Team B rotated 9 different offensive linemen to keep them fresh.

    6. While you're standing on one sideline, you can't see anything on the other team's sideline. Up in the press box, you can see that the starting quarterback for the other team is getting his ankle looked at by the trainers.

    If I have to be on the sidelines, it doesn't bother me. I'm able to keep accurate stats on the sidelines just as well as in the box, and you do get some up close things you don't get in the box.

    On a side note, a couple people mentioned that on the sidelines they get explanations of calls. What more do you need explained than seeing the ref giving the signal for holding and then watching them march off 10 yards? In a 15-inch game story are you really going to spend much time explaining referee calls? If a call is big enough to warrant that, you can get a pretty good idea of what happened through interviews.

    So, after all my points, and the points of everyone else on here, what's the conclusion? Do a couple games from the box, and a couple from the sidelines and see which one you like best. there's no right or wrong way to do it.
  11. BillySixty

    BillySixty Member

    What I meant to say was that being in a press box isn't advantageous to seeing some pass routes. You'd want to be high up in one of the end zones for that. But being in the press box is better than being on the sideline for that.

    I'll make a concrete example. Two weeks ago one of the teams I covered was penalized for a delay of game because they weren't out on the field by the end of halftime. I'd never seen that called before, asked the ref about it, and he told me the rule and that if they usually see the team coming, they'll give them a break. Another time, a team took a timeout on an extra point attempt. I thought that was odd, so I was making small talk with the ref. He said the opposing team -- not the one that called the timeout -- had 12 guys on the field.

    Did I wind up using either in my story? No, although both could have made it in the notes or
    could have become part of the story if they ran out of timeouts.

    I've also had conversations with coaches (usually lower level assistants) and even players themselves. A few coordinators will talk. One team I covered called a timeout on 3rd-and-30 in its own territory. As he was pacing the sideline near me, I asked him what the call was. He said screen. Then he said if Little Johnny can make his block, it'll be a touchdown. Sure enough, that's what happened.

    Never would have picked that up in the press box. While there is no right or wrong answer, I'm a big advocate for walking the sidelines and usually tell young reporters to walk along with the chain gang.
  12. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Press box.
    Yes, count me among those who like to see the plays develop, and in this state, the association treats the media as the enemy between the 25s and its a pain to get the right angle on the sideline
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