This weekend was the calm before the storm.
Actually, it was the calm during the storm.
Regardless, compared to most weekends in the sports writing business, it’s pretty quiet, partially due to the schedule, but also due to Mother Nature.
I won’t be saying that in the next three weeks, at least from the schedule standpoint.
Beginning Monday, we’re in the start of basketball postseason with Class B girls’ regionals, while Class AA and A girls and B, AA and A boys are wrapping up regular-season play.
Friday and Saturday we’ll have the Class A and B state wrestling tournament at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The following week Class B boys basketball begins regional play, the Class B girls are playing the SoDak 16, or as I like to say under my breath, the Sweet Round of SoDak 16.
At any rate, it will be a busy time for us media types for the winter sports season that concludes March 14-16 with the Class A and AA state basketball tournaments, with the AA boys' and girls' tourney in Rapid City.
Keeping busy is a good thing.
With that said, I’ve got a semi announcement to make. It’s no secret that the newspaper business is not what it used to be as far as the size of editions and the amount of staff that is employed.
And quite frankly, it likely will never be what it used to be.
When I came to the Journal six-and-a-half years ago, I was one of four full-time in the sports department that also featured one sports clerk (who received calls and emails from coaches for roundups), and two correspondents (freelance writers).
I recently looked back at some issues from 2010, and I counted five full-time bylines and five correspondent bylines. And we had four photographers (for the entire news staff).
Currently, we have two full-time in sports — myself and Geoff Preston — and until recently no sports clerk, one correspondent that was limited to the amount of stories he could write a month. And one photographer.
Here’s the potentially good news.
We’re bringing back our sports clerk (Aaron Finnell) and giving our correspondent (Joe Kavanaugh) more stories per month, and also bringing back a former Journal sports guy many of you are familiar with (Jeff Easton) for some limited freelance work.
And we’re working on getting more space for the sports section (hint, hint).
What this all says is we at the Journal do recognize the importance of local sports coverage, and we will do what we can to bring it to our readers to the best of our ability.
Baby steps can lead to bigger steps.
With that said, this isn’t the first time I’ve said this publicly, and it would be nice if it was the last.
We do need a little more help from the area coaches and athletics directors. The amount of calls and emails sent in with results aren’t what they used to be either. You can see it in the roundups.
“No other results were made available,” is a common theme in some of our game capsules, but it is what it is. If your team doesn’t appear at all, it’s likely because no one sent in or called in the results.
I get it, we’re also to blame in that area. Sometimes calls or emails get missed, and the public perception that we don’t care if we cover your school or sport is out there, or we favor one school or another.
That last part is simply not true. Personally, I’ve been in this business for over 35 years, and for those who know me best know it is not true. I knew this was going to be my profession when I was 17 years old writing for my high school newspaper. Shout out to the Bison Bellow.
And I’m sure I can say the same for Geoff, who is but a pup in the business compared to me. I see it; he has that same drive.
Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate it every time a coach or team manager calls in the results or an athletics director emails us the score and statistics. And we have some coaches or ADs who are very loyal in doing so.
What this does is enable their team or athletes to get a little recognition, win or lose. And who doesn’t want that?
For example, our weekly Athlete of the Week is based on the results we receive (or cover).
And a little heads up: The Journal is planning a Best of the West special edition at the end of the school year that will feature the top five athletes and athlete of the year in each high school sport.
We're really excited about that.
Of course, there's plenty else going on, not just in the local high schools. We’re going to try to amp up what we can with the Hardrockers, Yellow Jackets, Eagles and even when we can, Jackrabbits and Coyotes.
There's a plethora of recreation sports that one email or results sent in can lead to more good things. Saturday's edition that featured our two world-class triathletes — Tony Smoragiewicz and Tamara Gorman — is a prime example of that. A note we got from a reader informing us of their success is exactly what I am talking about.
Call me at 605-394-8431 or Geoff at 605-394-8337. We're still having some problems with our sports number (voicemail), but call 605-394-8294 or 605-394-8440. Call my personal line if the voicemail is not functioning.
Call me for suggestions or to complain if you wish.
And most importantly, support our local athletes. Pack the stands in these next three weeks. We all want them to have success.
Especially against East River teams.