Saturday, November 1, 2008

'The Best Game' (Bull#@%!)

On those days when I'm feeling particularly expansive, especially honest and open and have already told my conversation pal that I am a recovering alcoholic, I take the next step and admit to having spent 17 years as a sports writer. It's an ignoble profession most often peopled by the intellectually lazy and those who cannot accept any challenge in life. Sports writing can be, at its best, a fun job, but it's not one that will stretch the practitioner to his (and increasingly her) creative limits.

Sports writers most often settle for a life of ease, of beer and TV, of reminiscence of better days when, well, men were iron, ships were wood and women didn't make the waves that gave the sailors seasickness. (I will note that some of the best pure writers in the history of our republic have been sports writers, but those are the guys who got out of it and sought fulfillment from reality.)

So, let's get to today's grumble: I pick up the local daily on a Saturday morning and find, at the bottom of the first sports page, that Pulaski County High School has defeated Christiansburg High School 28-7 in football. It's the only high school game on the front and it's about a game half a hundred miles away. On Pages 6-8, we have stories on six Roanoke teams in this, the City Edition. Why in the hell is the game from the New River Valley, which has its own edition of the paper, on Page 1 of the section? It's a game in which maybe five people in the Roanoke River Valley have an interest and all of them are sports writers.

I have never been able to get a satisfactory answer from the sports guys about the positioning of high school sports events on their pages. They always say the game played on the front page is "the best game." Well, no it's not. The "best" game for my wife is the North Cross-Catholic game. She went to North Cross. For me, I guess it's Patrick Henry against whomever, since both my kids went there and, second, it's any game that Salem loses (because Salem plays my favorite team every week). But it's not Pulaski-Christiansburg. I can't foresee many circumstances where it would be Pulaski-Christiansburg, unless my best friend's son was the quarterback for one of the teams.

(Pictured above was the "best game" a couple of years ago. William Fleming High of Roanoke had just finished second in the state and I shot this photo of the celebration.)

You know, at a time when George Bush has lived in the White House for eight years, I suppose this is a niggling complaint. So, I'll shut up and go root out who beat Salem.

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