Your kid bores me
As I’ve mentioned before, many newspapers are going into overdrive encouraging parents and coaches to submit youth sports photos and scores, figuring that those parents and coaches, and anyone who knows a kid on the team submitted, will buy the paper or peruse the Web site as a result. For example, the Signal in Valencia, Calif., is setting up dedicated web pages for leagues and sports, and even individual teams. The newspaper also will collect stats. So just in case you wanted to know who was leading all 9-year-olds in doubles in local softball — now you’ll know.
The risk I hadn’t mentioned in my previous post about this strategy is that for every person all excited about your newspaper and web site for accepting little Jimmy’s soccer picture, you’ll have an infinite number on the other side who don’t give a shit.
That is the stated opinion of the Mansfield (Ohio) News-Journal’s Larry Phillips, who is, shall we say, skeptical of his newspaper’s fawning over kiddie sports. He figures it’s a bit of a yawner to anyone outside the child’s immediate orbit.
At the risk of rankling my superiors, I’ve got a youth sports bulletin.
For years here, we conducted reader panels that insisted folks wanted more youth sports coverage. In response, our marching orders were for more youth sports stories.
After 20 years in sports and repeated attempts at attacking this beat with issue-oriented stories, event coverage stories and feature stories garnering mostly negative feedback, I can say with full confidence the truth about this topic.
No one, repeat no one, wants to read about youth sports unless those stories are about their child, their grandchild, or someone else near and dear to their heart.
That’s a fact, and I can prove it.
My 5-year-old is in his first season in youth soccer. He split the posts for the first time with an own goal, but has since rallied to find the correct net twice in four games.
Bored to tears?
Of course. That’s two sentences readers will never get back.
I absolutely understand the personal investment in youth sports. I also understand its relevance in the overall landscape of north central Ohio sports.
What we’ve tried to do, and in fact encourage, is the team picture philosophy. Submit the squad’s photo identifying each youngster and the team’s accomplishments. As the weather warms and more teams are participating, we’ll move those photos toward a consistent online package. With our space in sports, that’s what we’ve done with turkey and deer pictures for our hunting fans. It still gives the kids recognition and for those readers cutting out such things for scrapbooks (and my wife is among them), it serves a dual purpose.
So, Larry, are you saying I’m wasting my time with this here blog? Um, I’m not sure I want you to answer that.