Off to state

May 16, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Our community likes its sports coverage -- and needs it too

This weekend brings the end of the long high school sports season in Fremont County, and our extended community will be exceptionally well represented at the two culminating events coming up, namely, the state track and field meet and the state soccer tournament.

This is the time of year as well that we often give tours of the newspaper office to local school groups. Tours in the newspaper family this spring have ranged from a group of 3- and 4-year-olds to a group of Central Wyoming College business students, with just about every other age group represented in between.

Part of every tour is leafing through the paper quickly with an explanation of what is on each page, how the information for the pages is gathered, and how it moves through the production path that leads from empty pages to the finished product each day.

When we get to the sports page, the tour guide often says something to this effect: "Local sports is a topic that some people don't care about it at all, and other people care about intensely."

Count the local newspaper staff in the latter category. This weekend we will have three sports reporters in three different locations around Wyoming, the closest one 120 miles from our office. We make that effort -- and no other local news medium matches it -- because our readers have come to expect it and, we believe, because our community needs it.

There are several reasons that people care so much about local sports. There is the sense of rivalry, the excitement of the competition, the pride in the accomplishments of the young people.

But there is something more. Community sports, particularly at the high school level, maintain their deep-seated attachment to the citizens because there is a sense of common experience that hardly changes over time.

Think of the many changes that we all experience through the years, decades, generations. They are related to age, health, money, education, geography, relationships, employment and much more. Life doesn't always proceed in the manner expected. In fact, it rarely does. That's not to say that this failure to adhere to preconception is always bad, but it almost always is at least a bit unsettling.

Hence the enduring value of the high school basketball game. Hence the touchstone quality of the introduction of starting lineups at the high school football game. Hence the unifying effect of leaning forward as the last two runners in the mile relay exchange the baton on a breezy spring day.

These are things that can transcend time and change, that can bridge differences in age and opinion and halt the advancement of time for a few moments.

Those few moments comprise much of the justification and explanation of why we have three sports reporters scattered around Wyoming today. With notebooks and cameras in hand, they are capturing time, preserving tradition, and laying the groundwork for a comfortable place for many of us to return far in the future.

And, as someone in our office often says, "covering sports sure beats working."

Here, then, a tip of the typewriter to the kids wearing the uniforms of their schools in the state competition this weekend at the end of a long season. Those uniforms aren't just representing their teams. They also represent the great community continuum that is ever nourished by the games they play.

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