In my 17 years of covering local sports, I have come up with a few observations. When I first started in this business I, like many others getting into sports broadcasting, wanted to eventually work my way to ESPN. That dream quickly faded as I got involved with high school sports. The big reason for my passion in local sports is they are something that you can’t turn on ESPN in the morning and find out how the Moline vs. Rock Island or Bettendorf vs. Pleasant Valley games turned out. Only local sports can offer those highlights and scores.
Some people do this job because they want to see themselves on television. Others do it to win awards or look for compliments on how good of a job they are doing. I have won my share of awards and have received many compliments along the way, but my response to all of that is thank you to the coaches and players for what they do. If they don’t play I would have nothing to cover.
Something else that draws me to high school sports is being able to go beyond the wins and losses of the game and tell compelling stories. These stories are what viewers want to see and they can show just how much hard work some of the local student-athletes have put in to succeed.
There have been many state championship teams, and many more that have never had a chance to play for a state title, along the way. But, the common thread to all these teams is the approach to the game and their passion to play.
Many times we as journalist can get in the way of the story, putting our own spin on a game, instead of just reporting on the facts. This is disheartening to me because we, as journalists, have no bearing on the outcome of the game.
The job is not to fabricate a story or just tell part of the story. You wouldn’t read a book by skipping ahead a few chapters and then going back to read the previous chapter. Just tell the story, give credit where credit is due and try not to be too cute or funny. That will only take away from the game or story and put the emphasis on the story teller.
This is my take on how I approach my job. This may not work for others, but I figure as long as I stay with what I know, the teams, student-athletes and coaches will always be the main focus, with no focus or attention given to this reporter.