A friend of mine recently asked, “Why doesn’t the Clarion Ledger ever pick anyone from the Delta for their awards? It’s always someone from North Mississippi or Jackson.”
Some might call the Ledger — and other newspapers, including the DDT — biased based on their selections. Others might believe that’s where the best players in the state come from. The rest probably couldn’t care less.
But the truth is, the C-L, the DDT and other newspapers can’t recognize an athlete it knows nothing about. Without stats, scores and updates from a coach, statistician or concerned parent, we are left completely in the dark — and so are our readers.
Unfortunately, the athletes are the ones who suffer in the end. When Player of the Year awards and All-Area teams are selected, we have to go off of the material we have. But, after each game, our fax machine is quiet, phones are silent and e-mail inbox empty.
Area schools and supporters, your athletes won’t see their name on that prized Dandy Dozen list or the All-DDT team if the first time we hear from you is after the selections have been made. And keeping a kids name out of print can equal keeping a kid away from a scholarship. College coaches can’t recruit players they’ve never heard of.
In an one-man sports department, covering nine high schools, there’s no way to can devote equal newsprint without help from the community. So help me — help you — help your student-athlete.
If you’re at a basketball game and have a camera on hand, snap a picture. We’ll be glad to print it. Know the final score and who scored the goals at a Greenville-Weston soccer match? Send it over.
We want to capture every aspect of Washington County sports, whether it’s at Deer Creek or Parks and Recreation basketball games. Have a feature idea? Tell me about it.
A column in this newspaper, written more than five years ago by Troy Treasure, documented these same issues. He wrote about the 72 Mississippi schools, including eight in the Delta, that names were printed in the Clarion Ledger for not submitting statistics throughout the entire year. Greenville-Weston, which was one of the eight schools named back in 2005, now submits scores, stats and updates like clockwork. And we thank you for that.
In today’s technology-driven world, there are ample ways to keep area student-athletes at the forefront. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, my office number is 378-0722, and my Twitter account is @kennymr.
After only a year and a half at this occupation, I’ve even been told “you like ‘this’ school over ‘that’ one.” And “that school gets more coverage than our school.” And my all-time favorite: “I stopped buying the paper because our school’s never in there.”
My point is, this is a community newspaper. And it takes the entire community to get everyone their justified coverage. Soon we will be releasing the All-DDT Basketball teams — and as of now there are only four out of nine high schools who have regularly sent in statistics. The rest have sent them in sporadically, others not at all.
We’ll also be naming the Basketball Player of the Year. Don’t be surprised if it’s a player from one of those four schools.
Kenneth Mister is the sports editor of the Delta Democrat Times. He can be reached at 378-0722 or email@example.com.