As we approach the conclusion of another high school sports year, it also marks the end of another sports season writing this weekly piece. Every so often I will receive an email, sometimes from a disgruntled reader wondering why I don’t cover this sport or that activity. I always find these letters interesting. The assumption is usually based on the belief the media’s function to be a promotional arm piece for whatever subject needs to be propped up. I’ve never believed this to be the case but yet we cover those events a significant number of people care about.
When I started this column some three and a half years ago, my philosophy was to write what I was passionate about. I must make it clear, I am a columnist, not a journalist. My columns, based on fact are opinion pieces in nature. Most of us have the capacity to be truly passionate about a few things. For me, the column would be and has been primarily about youth basketball, with some football, and baseball intertwined within. I am not a huge hobby person outside of work and my avocations. My hope has been that there are others who are passionate about these topics in order to develop a following. Even if there weren’t as many people who cared about the things that drive me, I would still write what I write because ultimately that is what this column is about.
The writer of the email will often go on to enlighten me about how hard these participants work and it would be nice to receive recognition. In this social media world of ours, everyone seeks to be a star or to have their children be stars. If any of you are on Facebook and have friends whose kids are athletes, you know what I’m talking about. Some of it goes beyond being a proud parent to the point of screaming out “look at me or look at my kid”. This goes on for nearly every game.
Generally, I’ll have a couple of responses to such correspondence. First, if it’s a topic I might ruminate over, I’ll say so and something may appear in a few weeks time. If it’s a subject I couldn’t care less about then I might suggest to the writer to consider starting their own blog.
Many get caught up in the value of pursuits based on popularity or coverage. If an individual is reaping enjoyment from an activity or sport, it shouldn’t matter whether 20 people show up to watch it or 10,000. I would still attend the annual high school basketball tournament even if few people started filling the stands.
Then there is the other argument I hear from those who are not involved in athletics. They complain we focus too much attention on sports. What about those who are not interested in sports? When thousands of people show up at an academic decathlon then it will get attention. It doesn’t mean academics are not important or we don’t value studious achievement.
Best wishes to all student-athletes as they wrap up another year in the classroom and on the playing fields. Whether many or few notice, I hope you look back on these years fondly by excelling in those areas you are truly passionate about. This is ultimately the greatest reward in and of itself.