I remember a critic of the Morris newspaper, when I was there, saying "why don't you take all the sports, put it in a separate publication, and then the people who want it can buy it."
I knew exactly where this person was coming from.
I remember a
retired school administrator saying to me once "the only people who read
the sports are parents who want to count the number of times Susie's
name appears compared to Betsy's."
I must admit there was a hamster-in-a-treadmill feeling to it all. At a
certain point in time we established what we felt were reasonable
standards for sports coverage. Problem is, new programs get created like
swimming and gymnastics, and hockey went from a sandlot type of sport
to being completely legitimate for varsity purposes. The Lee Center
totally transformed hockey.
There were people in the public school system who actually tried to
resist hockey. How quaint: to think there were elements in our local
educational apparatus who actually thought hockey could be resisted. It
all came down to politics of course. There were enough people who wanted
to see hockey become "big time," that they simply asserted themselves
through the political channels.
And then the media had to respond by
treating hockey as an equal.
This was fully logical. Nobody wants to slam the door on swimming or
gymnastics either. I remember when swimming was a peripheral sport -
sort of ragtag. Finally the push came for varsity status. I remember
Rick Lucken shaking his head about what varsity swimming would mean for
the powers that be: "another non-revenue sport!"
Girls hockey got established along with boys. Any notion that sports was
a male bastion in any way, shape or form came crashing down. You're
surprised there was a time when it was? Well, you're maybe 20 years
younger than me.
All of these thoughts are not to suggest that the proliferation of
serious youth sports was any sort of questionable thing. It's not for me
to decide anyway. Parents assert themselves through the legitimate
political channels. Eventually they decided they didn't care what
certain teachers thought about it. The teachers could just do their job
as laid down by the authorities. And shut up.
I remember setting up a pretty nice system for covering UMM men's
basketball, interviewing the very gregarious and friendly Perry Ford.
All that was fine and dandy, but guess what? The phone rang with demands
for total equality for the women's program. In principle this was
totally legitimate. But even back when the newspaper was twice a week,
we had limited space.
And there was the obvious question of how much sports coverage the
general reader, i.e. non-sports parent, would want to receive (and pay
for) each week. In the final analysis, sports coverage wasn't really a
service. Rather it was a sop to the crazy quilt of self-interested
sports boosters out there. The programs themselves were fine. The
expectations imposed on the media were not so fine or reasonable.
And of course the pressure could be vented in the most emotional of ways. Our family had to change dentists.
was a time when the Morris newspaper was expected to provide a certain
amount of coverage for the non-Morris high schools in the area. This was
always a thorny issue.
I always flirted with the idea of trying to press for a Morris-only
sports section. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to this was non-Morris
sports parents being on the newspaper staff. Looking back, one of the
biggest mysteries I see about the Morris newspaper is why there weren't
more Morris school parents on the staff. I wish we could have had some
nice, passive, non-assertive and non-emotional Morris school/sports
parents on the Sun Tribune staff, who would just send their kids through
the programs and shut up. I mean parents like Barb Lienemann (toward
It wasn't to be.
For many years, to the extent we covered UMM sports
at all, I had to go out and get it. I had a basic zest for my work so I
pursued it even if I knew there'd be imperfections. Boiled down: We
couldn't be all things to all people.
This was in the pre-Internet (pre-historic?) age when the print media
had the kind of primacy it thought it would always have. The print media
were like a beacon bestowing attention. It was a totally unreasonable
burden. And the general interest reader got turned off. I can't blame
"Why don't you take all the sports, put it in a separate publication, and then the people who want it can buy it."
If we had it to do over again, maybe. . .
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - email@example.com