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Tips for covering the effect of a teacher's strike on preps

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Illino, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. Illino

    Illino Member

    There is a looming possibility in my area that the teachers in the big high school will be going on strike later this week, thus canceling all sports for the immediate future. Anyone had this situation? What are some of the angles you took?

  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Never did it, but I remember reading something in Roger Kahn's "Boys of Summer" where, early in his career, he was the preps reporter and a teacher's strike happened. He asked his editor what to cover out of the mess, and his editor replied, "the mess."

    Pretty much if I were you, I'd interview the athletes, not just to get their reaction (which would probably be 'this sucks' "), but also find out if they are training on their own in case their season starts. Are they training together (QBs and receivers, for instance). As much as we joke about costing kids scholarships, if you have kids who may be trying to get one, interview them to see how the strike is affecting them.

    It'd also be a good idea to get ahold of the league scheduling coordinator to see how much of the schedule they'd be able to fit in at a certain date, especially if there are rules on how many practices a kid must have before they can compete.

    And depending on how big sports is in your area, strangely enough, see if there is any economic impact (the waitresses!), if, say, instead of several thousand fans filling a football stadium, the place sits empty.
  3. ksimpson

    ksimpson New Member

    No time for games
    on the picket line
    COACH JAMES SUNDAY walks in circles under the beating sun. A day earlier he had been with his Radford High baseball team, telling them to stay in shape, telling them that he'd see them when this was over. But not now. Now, he and his fellow teachers are on the line. Now he wears a sign and walks, around and around. http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/04/06/sports/simpson.html

    ‘For the kids’ doesn’t
    mean all of the kids
    Bob Hogue, who wants to watch his daughter play in the state tournament, and Chico Furtado, coach of odds-on girls basketball favorite Kalaheo, were among those arguing long and loud that this year's high school state tournaments must go on. I would like to hear the same fervor that the show must go on from a coach whose team won't be hugging any trophies any time soon. http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/04/27/sports/simpson.html
  4. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Never been their either, but Baron's on the right track. I'm assuming the newsies are handling the main story, so make it about the kids, parents, maybe even one of those fans who's sat in the same section of the stadium for 40 years.
  5. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I have done it, and I agree with what Baron is saying. Talking to the kids is a great idea. High school athletic careers are relatively short. Losing even part of a season is a big deal, not only to the kid trying to get a scholarship, but maybe even moreso to the kid who will never play again after graduation. There have got to be seniors who were finally going to get their first opportunity to start. Or maybe they finally get to move up from role player to star. This is their moment and it and now they see it threatened before they even get started.

    You should also be talking to school officials to find out what their plan is. Have they checked with league officials? Do they just start forfeiting games once the seasons start?

    The school I covered during a strike, the seasons had already started. They kept going, with administrators and volunteers acting as coaches. The school's AD, normally an assistant coach, took over the football team, which was all a hell of a juggling act for him, so that became a story.

    Obviously, also talk to the coaches who are teachers, or the ones staying away out of respect for the strike. That same football coach lived a short walk from the stadium. I was able to write about him sitting on his porch, looking up at the lights from the stadium, close enough to hear the sounds from the stadium, as his team played without him. But he had crossed the line at a previous stop and it went very badly for him, he wouldn't even consider doing it again.

    At another school I covered that had a strike, the football coach did cross. He stayed on strike as a teacher, but coached the team. He did it because he knew he had a special group and they ended up making the state finals that year, but he was tossed out of the union for crossing the line.

    The mess definitely includes some compelling stories. They just take a bit more work than showing up for a game.
  6. slc10

    slc10 Member

    Don't forget that the private schools could use some publicity and game stories will help. There will be other thing but they will have to come to you in a vision.
  7. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    See if there's a source out there (teacher or administrator) who will give you the lowdown on what's really likely to happen first before you get all worked up about a possible strike story. A lot of times (especially in the last decade or so) these negotiations go down to the wire and get resolved before all of the drama sets in.
  8. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Following up on this and OOP's idea that a high school athlete's career is fleeting, see if any of the kids are planning to transfer to private schools, if the state association is giving them a transfer waiver to let them play right away (or if state rules allow kids to transfer and play without penalty), and how the private schools might benefit athletically. If the strike drags on toward basketball season, especially, it could be an issue.
  9. Illino

    Illino Member

    Got split opinions from two administrations, so I don't know what to think anymore...lol. Time will tell.

    Thanks everyone for the tips.
  10. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Don't know what your circulation is but I'm sure there are some private schools out there that you can cover. You can keep up with the coach at big school about what plans he has to keep his kids in shape during the lockouts. It would also do well to touch base with other coaches in other sports to find out their plans.
    Good luck and when the strike ends be ready for all hell to break loose.
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