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The infamous all-area team

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Crimson Tide, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    At my shop, the high school writer is expected to name a varsity all-area team and player of the year. The PoY gets a portrait and feature. Been done this way for years and I have been expected to follow suit.

    So far, I've done two this year: baseball and softball. Both went surprisingly well. No angry coaches or parents, anything unpleasant like that.

    So, I'm working on volleyball and football.

    In years past, the writers just picked a team based on opinion. I started having coaches nominate players and include stats. I also consider all-conference picks by coaches/ADs and opinions of others on the sports staff. I think my selection criteria is fair and accurately represents the area. Also, the PoY is someone whose abilities and reputation as a player can't be argued.

    Here's the problem with football:

    The baseball PoY is the best candidate for football PoY. He's a pure athlete that everyone praises. His stats are great no matter what position he plays: QB, RB, LB, kickoff and return. Guy led the team to state runner-up. I've had several coaches who lost to him tell me that I'd be crazy not to pick him.

    However, our new SE doesn't want me to consider him. He's worried that people in the area will be upset if he's named football PoY less than six months after we named him baseball PoY. So far, the SE has offered no counterargument other than he's afraid to deal with any parents/coaches who would be jealous.

    He said, "I just want to make sure we pick the best player."

    We? There is no "we" in this. While I was the one who covered games, wrote features, watched practices, wrote columns, interviewed most of the players/coaches, requested nominations with coaches' comments, he sat at his desk and designed pages. He's been here less than six months and is clueless about the area at best. Even the college writer thinks this guy is the PoY.

    Now, the folks around here I've talked to know that I was thrown under a bus for a column that a player's parent didn't agree with (despite the fact that nothing was factually wrong with it). I'm not worried about what people just don't agree with. My info is solid. However, I'm working for people who won't back me up as a reporter. This has nothing to do with who I want to pick. If were any other player, it would be the same situation. This is about the SE being too afraid of the readership to do the job. This is about an SE who won't take the word of the beat writer who's out there every day observing what's going on.

    So, what the hell am I supposed to do? I'm not going to pick a player who's not as deserving just because my SE won't stand up for the section. I'm certainly not going to turn the project over to an SE who thinks that all the players worked just as hard and deserve a chance to be PoY. I'm not going to turn the project over to a former small-town daily who think a Q&A feature is cutting-edge journalism. This isn't the level of sports where everybody goes out for ice cream after the game and get a trophy at the end of the season no matter what. If I allow this and it gets out, it'll be open season on us.

    At this point, suggest anything you like to help me or criticize me, whatever. I'm at the point where if I'm not allowed to do this without the SE's fear of reprisal from a likely minority of the area, then fuck it. I'm done. No notice, no other job lined up. I am just that sick of the situation I'm in.

    As Ron Simmons said, "Damn!"
  2. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    if the baseball player is the best football player, so be it. it's crap like that which makes awards dubious. the best player should win, not the best senior or the best player whose team didn't win the championship or the best player with the most prominent parents. if the only reason your SE wants another kid is because the top candidate won the baseball POY, then that's not good enough.

    You need to explain to your SE why this kid deserves the award and that if it's not given for the right reasons, there's no point in giving an award at all.

    Also, your SE doesn't sound like much of an SE.
  3. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Tell your SE that your pick is the baseball stud. If he objects, either have a meeting with the ME (if it would solve anything, otherwise forget it), or tell your damn SE to pick the player himself. That way, when confused people want to know why the stud baseball player who kicks ass at football isn't the player of the year, simply transfer the call to the SE.
  4. a_rosenthal

    a_rosenthal Guest

    Put it up to the online readers and post a poll.
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    No, don't post a poll. This isn't a "readers' choice player of the year" (although if you did that, you could include the results along with the "real" selection.)

    The problem is, if you pick someone else other than the overwhelming favorite -- you better have a damn good reason for it.

    My old section did that once for a baseball all-area team. The co-players of the year we chose were the leaders/studs for the local team that won the state championship. But there was another local kid, different school, who was a mid-teens round pick by the Atlanta Braves. His team only went to the second round, but he was obviously an incredible talent, far better individually than the "leaders" of the other state champions.

    I argued that the player of the year should've been the draft pick, and we could load up the all-area team with players from the state champions. Figured that would make the most sense, and piss the fewest people off. But my boss was adamant that we not give him the award -- and he was the boss.

    He got a lot of flack over it, but he stood by his/our decision. I never took the heat for it, and he was always great about standing up for us. I still think it was the wrong decision -- but at least he backed it up.

    Crimson: If you (or your SE) can't back up the decision, don't bother.
  6. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Tell your sports editor that you are picking the best player and give him a list of coaches who say he should be player of the year. Also remind the sports editor that it's your name, not his, on the byline so its you they'll be calling to complain to, not him.
  7. Breakyoself

    Breakyoself Member

    pick the best player, regardless of what year in school and if they will win for another sport.
  8. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    There's one conference at the heart of my paper's circulation area for public and parochial schools. There are 8 schools in our circulation area that are outside of our main area of focus. There are also 6 private/prep schools (non-parochial) in the heart of our circulation area as well. When we tried switching the focus of the all-star team away from the conference to all-area in the spring, we got tons of complaints. People would rather see an all conference/county team than an all-area team.
  9. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    But don't the conference coaches choose the all-conference team? Newspapers do all-area teams because its their domain while the conferences are the domain of the coaches.
  10. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    The all-area team considered all conferences and classifications in our area. The only difference is that we pick a separate 8-man team for the small schools.

    Now, when we receive all-conference selections to publish, those are just one of many factors to consider for the all-area picks.

    And while I'm in a foul mood, my SE came from a 4K daily in the middle of nowhere and spent most of the time covering youth sports. He's afraid of his own shadow when it comes to readers and complaints. Even when he writes features, he does them over the phone. He's rarely met in person any of the people he's interviewed this year. He sends pages to press without anyone proofing them. He doesn't spell check. He writes stories and puts them on the page without anyone editing them. He doesn't even line edit our stories. His box scores never add up. He misses deadline two or three times per week. He's late because he takes three-hour dinner breaks. This guy is a total fucking clown. He was hired because he came cheap out of the chain and will stay under the ME's thumb and not cause problems. That's why I say that if I'm fucked on this, it's the last time they fuck me. I can't take it anymore.
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    I also wouldn't worry about potential backlash from readers thinking you are just picking the baseball stud because you guys "love" him. You're there to pick the best player.

    Last spring when we were doing all-area girls basketball, Player A was regarded by everyone as the top girls player in the state. She was going to an in-state DI program and had a great prep career. But we didn't choose her for our area player of the year. Why? She wasn't the best player. Player B played for a team that didn't need her to dominate like Player A, but she was clearly the best player for that team. She was five inches shorter than Player A, but Player B dominated the two regular-season matchups. She led her team to a state title. She nearly had a triple-double in the semis. She could shoot from everywhere, she was a much better rebounder and she could pass like a quarterback.

    Every other publication listed Player A as state POY, Miss Basketball, whatever. We didn't. We went with Player B, and unfortunately, had no backlash. We had our arguments all ready, but nobody called us on it. Guess we made the right selection after all.
  12. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    Whoa, Tide! that sounds like an untenable situation. you should roll on out of there.
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