Spring presents unique challenges, opportunities

Published 1:53 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whoever coined the phrase, “Variety is the spice of life,” must have been a fan of spring high school sports.

If you saw yesterday’s “Coming Up” list, you would have noticed that no less than 13 local athletic teams were in action in four different sports. In fact, 25 local teams this spring will compete in baseball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis or track and field. This situation is a sports editor’s dream and nightmare at the same time.

The desirable aspect of the spring sports season is there is never a shortage of things to cover, even on Saturdays. Normally the first of two days off from practice or competition in other sports seasons, there will be some kind of competition involving local athletes on eight of nine Saturdays from March 7, when Maplesville’s baseball team hosts Jemison and Colbert Heights, to May 2, when softball area tournament games will be played. And that is based on the unrealistic assumption that no local teams will still be competing on May 9, which will feature softball sub-state tournament games, baseball fourth round tournament games and the state soccer tournament. Oh, and May 16 is the final day of the state baseball and softball tournaments.

Basically, there’s no break, except Sundays and the occasional Wednesday, for more than two months.

I’m looking forward to covering so many local athletes in diverse athletic settings, and you should look forward to it, also. Baseball and softball are appreciated and should be supported as always, but people—especially students at local schools—shouldn’t get stuck in a rut of watching the same sport for three months.

There is a lot to be offered this time of the year, so take advantage of it. And maybe we’ll have warmer weather in the next few weeks. Then, there will be no excuse for not spending every afternoon outside watching some soccer…or golf or track or tennis.

Now, the nightmarish part about spring sports: providing fair coverage. Not everyone will be happy no matter the plan, but I think I’ve discovered a way to come as close to fair coverage as possible given the number of teams competing (see above) and our limited resources (me).

Starting with the season’s first baseball games on Feb. 16 and ending with the Chilton County softball team’s doubleheader against Carver-Montgomery on April 28, I’ve planned every game that will be covered by The Clanton Advertiser. Not including county tournaments, each local athletic team except the track teams and Jemison’s girls tennis team will be covered at least twice. AHSAA rule changes for track have made it impossible for teams to hold meets locally, and, to the Jemison girls and their parents, I drove up for the cancelled matches on Feb. 19, so don’t show up at our office with torches and pitchforks.

Four different softball teams will receive preferential treatment with coverage on four different occasions, but all seven local baseball teams will see a remarkable display of fairness with three games covered each.

But you can help improve your favorite team’s coverage. Either call (755-5747 ext. 20) with the results from any game I don’t cover or encourage your coach to do so. Let me know about any remarkable players or games that may deserve special mention.

I have a solid plan in place, but coverage of 25 local athletic clubs would be better as a team effort.