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More than fun & game stories

Published: Friday, July 4, 2014 10:46 p.m. CDT

Lexy Duncan suffered a terrible injury in middle school, and her family has rallied together as her mother battles cancer.

There was a time when Jake Snow wouldn't have talked to me, to you, or pretty much anyone else other than his parents. Now, he can fill up Ty Reynolds' recorder, and keep Reynolds on the quiet side of the conversation. That takes some talent in itself.

Who knew?

I surely didn't know any of these things until reading about them in our boys and girls athletes of the year stories. You can flip to page B10 to read about Snow.

If you missed the story on Duncan, it was in Thursday's edition.

Enough with the promoting, already.

I love it when my reporters bring back stories like this, filled with interesting angles about athletes we've written about dozens of times.

When I find one out on a story, I get excited to tell it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it always worries me when we find out about these things when athletes are done with their high school careers. Snow and Duncan will both be taking their talents to college next fall.

Digging beyond stats and games and cliche quotes is always something reporters need to be looking for whenever they are out of the office. That includes at games.

When I see a section filled with game stories, I feel like we probably let the reader down.

Not that we didn't put forth the effort into the section, but because we didn't plan ahead well enough to have a balance to the section.

Sure, plenty of folks want to see what happened in this game or that game. But most studies and veteran sports editors will tell you, no matter how well-written, a game story gets read to the first mention of the final score by 9 of 10 readers.

And that's just the people that read it at all. A person can look past a game story for a thousand reasons – the first being they don't care about the two teams and/or that sport.

But people – especially people in communities like the Sauk Valley – will take the time to read the stories like the ones about Duncan and Snow, even if they don't know the two kids.

If the writers did their jobs, the stories will catch the reader's attention, and before long, they'll forget they are reading about sports.

That's because they are not. They are reading about people.

I've always hated the term "human interest." It's pointless. Anything written is for humans and their interests.

All other species on this planet will have no other use for it other than having it line their cages.

As we move forward, and the realities of the industry take more effect on our department, we'll need to rely more on stories that grab readers' interest.

Does that mean fewer game stories? Probably. Gamers tend to take more time, with less payoff.

It also means we have to have our ears and eyes open to things not already in the box scores.

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