Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

My fall sports coverage is always McAlester-centered  (and really, McAlester football-centered), and last spring’s coverage was pretty balanced between MHS and the smaller schools. But my winter coverage last year shifted noticeably towards schools like Stuart, Canadian, Kiowa and Hartshorne — smaller schools with solid basketball teams.

While I devoted most of January to the Pitt 8 basketball tournament (first prepping the magazine and then covering it), since then I’ve almost exclusively covered McAlester teams. The Kiowa Cowboys will play in the Class A state tournament this week, and unless they make the state championship Saturday, there’s a decent chance I won’t cover them at all.

I don’t know if this is the right approach to the winter or not. Probably the majority of my readers live in McAlester, so obviously the Buffaloes need to be covered the most. But I also get the feeling that fans of one small school — Savanna, for instance — appreciate coverage of other small schools — Haileyville, for instance — almost as much as they appreciate coverage of their particular school.

I think covering teams like Crowder and Pittsburg show the McAlester News-Capital isn’t so focused on the big-city teams that it ignores everyone else. And if I’m right, and small-school readers do indeed appreciate coverage of not just their particular school, but all the Class B, A and 2A schools, then focusing on McAlester so much runs the risk of alienating not just one non-McAlester school district’s readers, but possibly all 11 of them.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe our readership is so concentrated that even if we lost every reader who doesn’t care about the Buffs, we’d still be appeasing the majority of our readers. Or maybe because the News-Cap is the only paper in Pittsburg County, our readers aren’t likely to stop their subscriptions just because Quinton and Wilburton’s sports teams rarely make the B section.

As I said, I don’t know which is the right way to go. I just know that lately it’s felt like almost all my live coverage and features have surrounded McAlester only.

Anyway, here’s everything I’ve written since Feb. 11. Monthly roundups will now publish the first Monday of every month.

Midweek Update: Kiowa sweeps Pitt 8 Conference

Lady Buffs wrap pom season

Lady Buffs edge Durant 36-34

Buffs flat in loss to Lions

McAlester weekend wrestling results

The biggest man on campus

Falcons win ORES Area Championship

Classes 2A-6A brackets released

Avants, Antlers beat Buffs

Lady Antlers top Lady Buffs

GBOF’s ‘10 For 10’ league

Buffs’ Scott turns one into three

James Remedi overcomes speed with strength

Midweek Update: Kiowa reaches area finals

Buffs tennis aiming high

Know Your Foe: Lady Buffs face Lady Comets in Regionals

Four Buffs wrestlers make State

Know Your Foe: Buffs face Cardinals at Bishop Kelley

New coaches take over Buffs golf

Lady Buffs upset Comets

Buffs take down Cardinals

Lady Cardinals rain 3s on Lady Buffs

Comets blow out Buffaloes

Bond, Buffs ready for new baseball season

Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2003″

“The Best American Sports Writing 2003,” edited by Buzz Bissinger
“The Best American Sports Writing 2003,” edited by Buzz Bissinger

I’ve on several occasions derided what I call “sick kids or dead coaches” stories, but not everyone knows what that means. Considering one such story appears in the Best American Sports Writing volume I’m about to review), let me explain.

All “sick kids or dead coaches” stories follow the same structure, beginning with some introductory paragraphs that can be summarized as “John Smith’s life is crap. Here are all the ways it’s crappy.” If it’s a dead coach story, replace “John Smith’s life” with “living in Springfield,” because instead of being about a person, the story’s about a town.

Anyway, after the reader feels horrible about the universe because of this dude’s crappy life, there’s a couple of paragraphs that say something like, “the only thing that makes Smith’s life less crappy is this sport. He’s not good at it, but he loves it because it makes him feel slightly less crappy, so he devotes all his time to it.”

Throw in a quote from some outsider about how heroic this guy is for devoting himself to something that’ll never really solve his problems, conclude it with a paragraph or two about how even though his life sucks, the guy will keep playing until he can’t, and you’re done. If it’s a “dead coaches” story, the quote is about how much the town changed because of the coach, then end with a couple of paragraphs on the minor positive change he brought.

Don’t get me wrong — a few such stories (including some I’ve read in BASW volumes) have been really, really good. But with “sick kids and dead coaches” stories, the writer sacrifices things like creativity, structure, emotional complexity and intelligence and instead tries to exploit the reader’s sense of sentimentality and nostalgia.

That, more than the subject itself, is what bothers the crap out of me.

Anyway, here’s The Best American Sports Writing 2003, edited by Buzz Bissinger.

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