Monday, December 19, 2011

A tale of two games, and the ignorance of hometown press

The high school basketball season is less than a month old, and one of the early surprises in Section 2 in my home district happens to be my alma mater, Troy High. However, you wouldn't really know that if you read the hometown paper.

Entering the weekend, Troy was 3-0, and was on the road to play crosstown rival Catholic Central. Once upon a time, these two schools were not only among the elite in their league, but bitter rivals. The rivalry is still there, but it isn't what it used to be. Catholic Central brought back a name from the glory days of the past, Chuck Mack, as their new head coach, and Friday's game had a storyline that sold itself, assuming the rivalry remained intense, on the order of, say for example, Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, or Texas-Oklahoma in college football. Mack's first major test was against an in-city rival, and he failed, as Troy demolished Catholic Central by a whopping 62 points.

All that got the next day was a small, two paragraph mention, with the box score on the next page.

But what was really galling was a game that should also have been a marquee matchup, but not a word was written about it in Saturday's edition. Less than 24 hours after the blowout of Catholic Central, Troy was on the road again, traveling all the way to Queens to play one of the elite teams in the entire state, perennial New York City power Christ the King. Troy's season-opening 4 game win streak was snapped at the hands of the Royals, 58-56, a nail-biting thriller to be sure, and the article in Sunday's edition dwarfed the account of the Troy-Catholic Central game, but there was no box score to be had.

The story, again, sold itself. Troy, under first-year coach Rich Hurley, the former head man at Bishop Maginn, was getting its first test against a school outside their region, and they took the Royals to the limit. No reporter was credited for filing the account of the Troy-CTK game, but this was an occasion, as was the case the night before, that required, nay, demanded, fuller press coverage than it got. Did the other local papers cover it? I cannot say for sure, but I have to imagine the answer to that would be yes.

The problem with the Record is its lack of financial resources. Unlike its local rivals, such as the Albany Times-Union, it doesn't have the manpower to send someone on the road with all of the sports teams in the area. Granted, the T-U doesn't always have a beat reporter on the road, either, but that lack of finances also disables the journalistic instincts of its sportswriters. 20 years ago, a game between Troy & Christ the King, were Troy among the area's basketball elite, would've gotten major play from all of the area's papers. Today, it isn't considered newsworthy enough for the Record to promote it pre-game. That's a shame. What if Christ the King returns the favor and comes to Troy next year? Then what? We'll have to wait & see, but a lesson should already have been learned.

There's an old cliche that says you don't let facts get in the way of a good story. In truth, you can't let a story go by that needs to be told, no matter what, and this weekend, two of them were ignored for all the wrong reasons.

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