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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Struck Strikes Out: We must celebrate the victor

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Every track and field season I'm teased and sometimes chastised by parents and fans for favoring a certain athlete or athletes, or a certain school or schools.

The alleged favoritism usually consists of the reader coming to the conclusion that I run too many photos, or write too much about the athlete(s) or school(s) in question in comparison with all the other athletes and schools we cover.

Track and field meets are very difficult for one person to photograph because so many events are occurring simultaneously with a lot of distance in between them.

It's practically impossible to consistently show a fair and balanced cross-section of photos, although we certainly try.

Sometimes, operating on the principle that you can't be in two places at once, we might miss snapping a photo of a winner or a winning relay team. Very often, at the end of their event, many track and field athletes hustle away to their team's camp, or their family, or girlfriend or boyfriend, and the moment is lost.

When writing the stories, we're inundated with statistics of times and distances, and personal bests, and school and conference and meet and state records, all of which should and do take priority in the article in question.

Some kids win their events or are in the running every time out, while others may break through with a personal best from time to time and upset the field. Because the latter does not occur nearly as often, the tendency of photographers is to hang around the events where the local kid is probably going to win. Then, when that event is done, they're free to roam to the other events for, hopefully, some additional photos of the kids and schools they cover.

Make no mistake, prep, collegiate and professional sports are all about winning. That's why they keep score. The winners get the front page pub, while many of the others - the also-rans - get the detail pages.

There are some area track and field kids who are winning consistently and setting records all over the place. There are area track and field programs with rich tradition that win almost every meet they enter.

Yes, you will read and see these athletes the most. You must scratch where it itches, after all.

However, this does not mean the other kids and schools will be ignored. There may be fewer photos, or less copy written about them, but they, too, are winners in their own right, and will be treated as such.

I always find it hard to accept that there are some people green with envy who fail to celebrate the awesome skills some kids are born with or have developed through hard work and practice. Excellence may be its own reward, but the media have an obligation to inform their readers and listeners about outstanding achievement in any arena.

Celebrating the winners does not mean anybody is slighting the runners-up, or third-place or fourth-place finishers. At least not in my life, it doesn't.

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