Facing a communication theory exam, a case studies presentation and article deadlines, I was approaching panic last week while still not knowing what to write about in this week’s Zone.
An e-mail from a student athlete unintentionally helped me out in crunch time.
The athlete, who shall remain anonymous, bemoaned the lack of coverage regarding UVU cross-country. The athlete (accurately) accused us of devoting the bulk of our coverage to volleyball and soccer the issue immediately following the cross country teams’ respective victories in the Great West Conference championships.
I immediately wrote back. The last thing I want any of our student athletes to think is that the section which covers them doesn’t care. I saw where she was coming from. The paper presents a venue through which cross country can be viewed and celebrated, because – let’s face it – it’s not widely considered a must-see event in person. When even that opportunity of exposure is missing, resentment over being ignored is sure to crop up.
This student-athlete touched on a sensitive topic, one many sports editors love to hedge and hate to address – the often-felt but never-admitted favoritism toward mainstream sports. Unfortunately and unintentionally, the UVU Review’s sports section fit that stereotype to a T.
Having heard the saying “what one person says, ten people think,” I have a gut feeling others involved in or observing the less-lauded sports feel the same way as the athlete who contacted me. They probably want an explanation as well.
Here it is.
Firstly, I don’t dislike any sport. Do I have preferences? Of course. Everyone does. Those do not, however, play into my weekly allotment of stories.
What does is the timing of events. The UVU Review is a weekly newspaper. Each issue hits the rack on Monday. In order to do so, however, we are required to put the paper together on Friday.
To be blunt, this sucks. It means prime-time games or tournaments held over the weekend are impossible to put in print in a timely manner. We can’t review them because they happen after we put the paper together and we can’t preview them because they happen before the paper is printed.
Compounding the matter is the fact that sports like golf, cross country and wrestling — sports that already feel like the less-loved siblings to “more popular” sports – are almost always held over the weekend. This is because those sports are all-day events, necessitating weekend scheduling so student-athletes can still go to class, do their part-time jobs, or whatever other obligations they may have.
Complicating things even further is that cross-country, golf and wrestling rarely – if ever – have “home games.” Golf’s closest invitational so far this season was in Layton. Cross-country’s closest meet was in Cedar City.
After their intra-squad dual last week, wrestling won’t be seen at home competitively until January. These are the factors that restrict our coverage. Again, it sucks. Other section editors feel the same way when a big news story or a concert happens over the weekend.
We are here to provide broad and consistent coverage, and when we are prevented from doing so we get the same helpless, violent urges as the people who feel we don’t care. This probably won’t satisfy everyone student-athlete. Hopefully, though, it will help them understand all the effort, preparation and red tape we go through to show what they go through.
As for the cross-country teams, we’ll see you Nov. 12 at the NCAA West Regionals which, mercifully, are being held in Provo. In the meantime, congrats on your conference championship. Matt Petersen can be reached at petersensports@ gmail.com.