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Remembering why I left the field

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 50 scent, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Covering the sports themselves isn't really the problem in that there isn't that much of a dropoff between interest in a youth football game and interest in the lower-rung high school sports. The problem is the parents at the youth level are way more hyperactive, trying to dictate coverage priorities, wanting to edit the story, making sure Bob's Auto Parts and Aunt Mildred's Country Cooking get prominent spots in the story, then bitching and moaning if you didn't mention some kid who had a single with his team up 22-4 which was ruled a single because they don't believe in giving errors, or don't cover the next six games the East Side Broncos play. The kids are usually fine if you treat them simply like athletes and not like Special Olympics participants, but their parents can eat the biggest part of me.
  2. DrewWilson

    DrewWilson Member

    I think every small to mid-sized paper has a whole list of youth sports parents -- and high school parents, for that matter -- they'd like to line up in front of a firing squad.
  3. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    There's bitching and whining in all aspects of sports reporting.

    In the preps and kiddie sports, it's some parents and some coaches. Usually the kids are great to deal with.

    As you work your way up the chain, the bitching remains but it's by different people.

    Do you think I like going into visiting locker rooms, chatting up half-naked people I don't know (and they don't know me) about a game they just played? Especially if they lost that game? No, not really.

    Some people are great to deal with -- Chase Utley immediately comes to mind. Jose Guillen as well. Others aren't so good.

    If you think covering a major beat is heaven, then I suggest you talk to someone who has had to cover Ryan Leaf, Barry Bonds or another contemptous athlete.
  4. patchs

    patchs Active Member

    The grass is always greener on the other side.
    Thing is, with the "more local" mentality we're seeing because of falling circulation, you're going to see more youth coverage in bigger papers.
    It won't be the big boys but the medium sized papers will be doing more features on this stuff.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The thing with youth or rec sports -- I don't mind covering something if there is a story.

    If you have a 4-year-old swimmer who is beating 10-year-olds. That's interesting.

    If you have an 11-year-old skateboarder winning events against teenagers. That's good stuff.

    If you have a 16-year-old female golfer qualifying for the men's U.S. Open, might be worth a story.

    I just never liked going to events, tournaments, etc., just to cover it when there is little direction from above and -- really -- except for a lot of kids running around, little going on to warrant coverage.
  6. 50 scent

    50 scent Member

    I wasn't the best at my job, I definitely accept that. I didn't put my whole heart in my work for those AYSO reports. It was hard for me to take seriously. I knew people liked them, and enjoyed reading them, but I had trouble busting my balls on that. T

    If I realized what a significant portion of a local paper covers youth. I would have kept looking. It was frustrating because I turned down an opportunity wasn't a local. I do dig high school sports and above, and actually enjoy sports without the parents.

    I also was working a second job at 30+ hours a week, and suffering from depression. I have since worked with physicians on the other part. I have moved to a sales career. Don't worry It's not in the media industry.

    In the future, I may try and freelance down the road. I feel I can write it off as a learning experience about the industry and that particyular market as well.
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    I've said this before but it bears repeating... if sports writing required a unique talent, sports writers would be getting a lot more money.

    Some people who are sports writers see sports, watch people go through the minor leagues and colleges working their way to the top professional ranks, and assume that sports writing is the same dynamic.

    It ain't the way it is. I don't know that there is that much difference between leaving the business as a writer or going on the desk and not writing - except being an editor in the sports department has lousy hours if you have a family.

    If it's a case of not being good enough to cut it, does that mean the writers who become editors "aren't good enough to cut it." There are tons of writers for each position, but journalism organizations keep talking about "the crisis in copy editing" There ain't no crisis, the suits don't want to pay the wage it takes to have a supply of good copy editors.
  8. JME

    JME Member

    No, but good sports writing does.
  9. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    a craft, not a talent
  10. JME

    JME Member

    I'd say it's 50-50. Working hard isn't going to make you a great writer if you don't have talent. Talent isn't going to make you great if you don't hone your craft.
  11. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    Props to Mystery Meat and Ace for great points earlier in this thread. At my place I'm afraid to cut names out of submitted writeups because I don't want some parent calling and saying little Johnny's feelings were hurt because his name wasn't in the paper. And every week I get submitted reports that list off every kid on the team, even the ones who sat on the end of the bench picking their noses and played five minutes of garbage time. We don't do that for the high school stuff we cover in person, why should we do it for kiddie sports? And I don't know how many times I've gotten e-mails from people who want us to do stories, "because these kids work so hard." If there's a real angle, I'm all for it.

    As someone else mentioned, we may see a lot more priority placed on youth coverage as the dynamics of the newspaper business change. If you want an example, check out the posting on J-jobs from the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World. Go to their site ... they've got a whole youth sports tab every week, from what it looks like. I wouldn't want any part of that.
  12. PEteacher

    PEteacher Member

    Geez, they have a 20-plus-inch article on a sixth grader playing Knockout! Stay away....
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