Open Letter to the Boston Globe


#1

I am writing as a Mass. high school XC and track coach, a fan of the sport, a member of the MSTCA Cross Country Committee, and a 30 year subscriber of your newspaper. While Kelly Sweeney’s article on the MIAA XC state championship meet was well-written and shows journalistic talent, the coverage of four cross country meets in such a brief article is unfair to this sport, one that services more athletes than any other in the state.

Cross country is growing in this state, but coverage is diminishing from your paper and others. I have heard the responses from your staff in the past that there simply isn’t enough space to properly cover high school sports, but I would argue that soccer, football, and others are getting what they deserve. Why not us?

I think the answer is simple. We have 4 state meets at one site, and out of convenience, this allows your reporter to write one article. Fair enough, but 4 MIAA soccer championships would not be covered into one article (especially boys and girls in the same article). What this space crunch did was force the reporter to write about individual performances, and have little to no space left to speak about the teams.

This is my most crucial point- cross country and track are TEAM sports. Only reporters see them any other way. It’s easy to watch a runner cross the finish line and want to write about what one sees, but the real story is what happens after that. Coach Zopatti of Pembroke was never interviewed- no mention of his team’s incredible 4th state title in 5 years. Coach Sawyer of Hamilton-Wenham, always knocking on the door, gets a hard-earned state title- never interviewed, never mentioned. Coach O’Connell of Needham, so close last year, so good all year, never spoken to. Coach Collins of Mansfield, a hall of famer, wins her 3rd in 6 years, never interviewed.

It’s not just about the coaches though (although I’ve read every other state title article and every winning coach was spoken to in those), it’s about the team drama. Tyngsborough went out and led the DII girls race for half of it before H-W came roaring back. Pembroke needed its 6th man to step up to seal the deal. Mansfield held off a deep DI boys field, especially defending champs Lowell and Peabody. Bishop Feehan has its top runner go down, only to hang in for 3rd place in the best battle we’ve seen in years.

Our sport deserves more than this. I’m just asking that you consider separating your articles for XC and track into divisions like every other sport. We make it convenient for a reporter by having 4 meets at one site, but don’t punish us by reducing our coverage to almost nothing. Trust me, there are hundreds of coaches who want to wake up and read your paper, as well as thousands of athletes, parents, and fans. Please give us something to tell the story.


#2

Well said. Completely agree that the coverage of our sport is severely lacking.


#3

Maybe a picture is worth a 1000 words here (or 84 to be more precise).


#4

It is a shame that this happens everywhere. In Berkshire County which is part of Western Mass the Division II schools are more able to compete on the State level than Division I but this morning the articles in the Berkshire Eagle cover the DII races only. No mention of the one DI athlete who made the girls race or two boys athletes but football from high school to college to pro is everywhere.


#5

I totally agree. When the paper landed on my front porch this morning, I immediately tore into it to read the article and it left me scratching my head.

I told my wife to read the article and she didn’t even realize that Needham had taken the Girls D1 race from reading it. I think coach Phelan is a great coach, mind you and L-S has a great team, but there were two paragraphs on Sydney and L-S, when the story was Needham. Likewise, Gabe is a fantastic runner, but Mansfield (and Lowell) were the story of the Boys D1 race.

A reporter could have very easily looked at the rankings before the race, contacted a few of the coaches ahead of time, and asked “what should I look for…?” A lot of times, we get in over our heads in situations, but then it’s reasonable to ask for help.


#6

This was very well thought out, professional and clearly sent by someone who loves the TEAM sport of XC - thank you for going to bat for the THOUSANDS of parents who have a son or daughter that “lays” it out every race and rarely gets any credit,attention or support from the media (or in most cases their peers or schools).

Now to give credit where credit is due the Worcester Telegram & Gazette did an amazing job covering the Central MA teams/athletes that ran their “hearts” out yesterday in Gardner - an entire page in the Sunday sports page dedicated to all four races! - thank you T&G! :slight_smile:
Pioneers, Murphy edge Colonials for fourth
http://www.telegram.com/article/20131116/NEWS/311179921/1152/hometeam_main&TEMPLATE=HOMETEAM
Hopedale second, Paul Maurais is 12th
D2 BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRY STATE MEET
http://www.telegram.com/article/20131116/NEWS/311179924/1152/hometeam_main&TEMPLATE=HOMETEAM
Nashoba’s Gillen takes 6th in wild race
http://www.telegram.com/article/20131116/NEWS/311179911/1152/hometeam_main&TEMPLATE=HOMETEAM
Sutton’s Jessie Cardin runs to third place
http://www.telegram.com/article/20131116/NEWS/311179913/1152/hometeam_main&TEMPLATE=HOMETEAM


#7

Excellent points and well written. I will ask the MIAA XC / T&F Committee to back your sentiments and send a note as well.


#8

Well stated and written letter from MCRUN. While I agree with him that the meet should get more and better coverage, especially the team results, there is a basic principle at play here: the job of the media is to REFLECT the interests of its readers, listeners, or viewers. That’s how they make money. Public opinion rules. People are more interested in other sports(football, soccer, even volleyball) because there is more of a team aspect to those sports.

Regarding XC, people can identify more with the individuals who are competing in one race, unlike track which will have multiple event winners. They seem to care more about which individual won(wrongly) than which team or group won. So the Globe will give people what they want. The Globe is not a social worker, they are in business to make money. To change their coverage we need to change public opinion.

Gen. Eisenhower once was told by Gen. Patton that great generals win wars. Eisenhower responded, “generals don’t win wars, public opinion wins wars”.


#9

Point taken, but do you honestly think they know what the public wants? I think it’s more about what’s easier to write.


#10

Coverage of cross country and track and field by local newspapers has been a dying duck for many years, no matter who the sports editor might be or what interest he or she may have in a particular sport. The internet has changed that equation dramatically, both for our sport and for newspapers. Subscribers are down because people choose other vehicles to get their news and sports.

The old refrain of “we only have so much space” doesn’t apply on the internet. Telling xc and track coaches it is “their job” to get meet results to the media is admitting that the media is lazy and disinterested. (Show me one football coach or one basketball coach whose job it is to get their game results to the media).

The fact is, our job is to make our internet sites popular to those fans who love track and field and cross country, to new fans and parents and to anyone else who may just have a passing interest in what our sports generate as a compliment to educating young people.

We have more participants than just about any sport in the country, so we have the ability and capability (through the internet) to build interest and generate publicity for our sport. It is hard work if you do your own website for your team or group. It is easier when links to ma.milesplit.com and athletic.net are available and people put in the results for everyone to see and follow.

Writing stories about meets takes time and requires some journalistic ability, but one can certainly provide commentary about the meet, photos, interviews, if given the opportunity, whether it be an aspiring young journalist (if there are any left), a web page designer with good writing skills, a parent who takes nice photos (ie. Newton North) or a coach who has time on his or her hands…(right).

The bottom line is that we do have a venue to display our gifted athletes and our teams. We need to continue to, as they say in the business world, “grow our sport”. Let people know where to go for results, create a team web page and keep it updated. Post photos of meet action. Keep people interested…

Great letter, great message, unfortunately deaf ears.


#11

Cancel your subscription …Boston herald joe reardon gets it and Danny Ventura, rest of the paper is well…


#12

Can’t subscribe to a newspaper simply because it’s HS sports coverage is better (ps, the Herald article wasn’t any longer nor much better although I agree Joe gets it).

My herald days ended in October, 2004 when they printed a 2 page picture of that poor girl killed outside of Fenway by a rubber bullet.


#13

As I said earlier, who needs newspapers. In fact, I haven’t read a paper in years…and I do mobile and regular web page…

http://mansfieldtrack.com/

As far as getting the news, I can read from 20 different news outlets in an hour or so, no problem. Go down to the local store and maybe you find 3-4 different newspapers. Come Mcrun33, join the digital age…:slight_smile:


#14

Love the open and fold method.


#15

Buy a mini Ipad with a cover and you are set to go…:slight_smile:


#16

TheGlobe did post 8 pictures online…not defeding there article-or lack of…look foward to hearing the Globe’s response…


#17

I agree with what is the job of the ppap0er. I disagree with what you believe people are intereted in. We should show them how many people do care about our sport. To continually say that other sports are more popular or the ones people are intgerested in does a disservice to our sport. We should not continue the mentality that we are a second class sport.

I believe this state has produced more elite athletes in our sports than in any other. Elite at the HS level nationally, those who have gone on to compete in college and as professionals.

TRackmanpete is right tat there are other venues to promote the sport now BUT we should make should every avenue is uded to get the proper respect or sport desrves. I applaud mcrun for sending the letter and I will be joining him. I would encourage otheres to do the same.


#18

Went to a NN-Brookline volleyball game at Brookline 2 weeks ago. The place was packed; no room to stand, people going wild in the stands. Rittenburg had to restore order. Go to a NN-Brookline XC meet and only the parents will be there. …I agree we should promote the sport, but we have to be realistic about from where we are coming. When I went to Burlington HS for the decathlon last June, the sign at the entrance says "home of the state hockey champions. Same thing in Waltham a few years ago… Don’t think they would put up a similar sign for XC(at least not in Newton, did they in Brookline?).


#19

Its about changing minds and ideals…the NFL (or AFL I believe) was a struggling league once…but they forged ahead…past the American past time, baseball.

To sit back and say “We aren’t that type of sport” or “it is what it is” seems ridiculous…what people care about volleyball for that matter??? is it on ESPN on Sundays…its obviously not, but they have coaches and athletes who care that have promoted the sport over the last 30-40yrs from the beach to the high school court. Its hard to stand up and say “hey how about some love for these hard working kids”…its easy to sit back and continue to let popular culture dictate the recognition our kids get… I am personally not into the easy route.

Many of these other sports garner automatic recognition…I don’t think that is right…We are realistic when it comes to knowing where we are coming from, but I do not think its wrong to want more for our sport and our athletes.

Z


#20

Seems like you have misinterpreted what I was saying Z. I think we have to work on promoting our sport. I’m not for sitting back and letting others dictate what recognition we get. I’m fighting that battle at NN and with our local paper. …My original point with MCRUN was that we have to get public opinion on our side before the media will reflect that and right now those other sports, as well as the individual results of xc state meets, are more dominate in public interest. We can’t expect the Globe to go against their interest until we change the culture.

It’s wrong that your team didn’t more recognition as the best team in Mass. Hope that sign is up at Pembroke HS.