Winds of change

Sports VIEW

Lisa Paine — Sports Editor

Lisa Paine — Sports Editor

I’ve had several conversations and received numerous emails from spring coaches, with some displeased with the way we are handling specific sports in the papers. I value that input and based on our collective conversations, we will be implementing some changes, mainly doing away with the stats format beginning with the upcoming fall season.

First, to be clear, it’s very common for newspapers across the nation to use stats, box scores and other abbreviated formats to include as many sports as possible each week in individual newspapers limited page counts. The problem is, if the readers hate those formats, why use them?

Point taken. So, throughout the summer I will be taking all of the input I received from the coaches– and some parents, too–and making some adjustments to completely do away with the stats format that we used to recap specifically tennis, track, wrestling, cross country and golf.

The overall resounding feedback I received showed that the stats or box score format looked like those particular sports did not matter as much as say, football, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball. That certainly wasn’t our intent, but if that’s how the readers perceive those formats, well, that’s a problem.

I think everyone will like the new format much better and it will certainly not look like we are choosing certain sports over others. Every one of our papers is unique unto itself simply based on the number of sports offered within those school districts. In some communities, using the current season as an example, we only have four sports, while in others we have eight. Not everyone fields a golf, lacrosse or tennis team. Add into the mix a little rugby and water polo and skiing in winter and that number increases. We can’t add more pages to accommodate the extra sports in those directions, but clearly we went in a direction that just doesn’t suit everyone.

This isn’t the first season I have heard this complaint about the stats/box scores format. We walked away from that format before and I’m prepared to walk away from it again. We won’t have to reinvent the wheel completely, but will have to make a few concessions across the board. The main point being, ALL sports we recap will have to sacrifice a few lines of copy to give each sport the more popular paragraph or story format. I actually prefer the longer format, simply because it gives us more of an opportunity to tell the whole story that a box score simply does not.

Case in point: This past week when Grand Blanc softball had to stop a game with the bases loaded because of lightning and was not allowed to continue the game once the weather cleared up. Had the team been allowed to resume play, the outcome may have been a whole different story.

So, stay tuned for a newer format. You’ll recognize a lot of the old, but you can count on the stats being gone. I appreciate all the feedback and although I don’t agree with all of it, we can make some adjustments to your community newspaper.

Where we left off…

When you last read my column last week, the French Open clay court tennis tournament was still in progress. Over the weekend, China crowned its first ever champion in a tennis event when Li Na defeated defending ladies champ Francesca Schiavone on Saturday to make world history. Her story was even more unique as the NBC commentators pointed out that Na was first discovered playing badminton, but someone noticed that her strokes were more similar to tennis. Not a big sport in tennis, the Chinese government had to learn more before steering Na in a different direction. Good move. She’ll now move on to play at Wimbledon in July trying for her first grass-court title.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer halted Novak Djokovic’s 40-game win streak in the semifinals, taking him out in three sets. On Sunday, however, Federer was simply overpowered in the finals by now six-time French Open champ Rafael Nadal, in four sets. The men have to win three out of five sets, while the women have to win two out of three. There is no tiebreaker in the third set, either, so epic, record-making long matches have taken place over the decades. Now, we move on to the grass-court season that leads up to Wimbledon.

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