In-season sports are always the first priority

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Los Lunas Schools is going to announce a new Valencia High head football coach soon. It’s a much-anticipated decision, and one we’ll likely feature on the front page of our sports section.

However, other coaching announcements are far less dramatic, and are from sports that don’t have nearly the spotlight or following as football. That’s one reason why the sports that are in season at the time will usually have the greatest priority. Stories about high school and other youth programs will have priority over stories about the adults that lead them.

Coaching decisions are important. We can all think of examples of choices that worked out well, and ones that didn’t. These choices can make the difference between a series of losing seasons and a 10-year dynasty that elevates a program forever.

But the athletes that are on the field right now are the people that matter to us the most. They even take priority, generally, over out-of-season sports, so in many cases, stories about college signings and rule changes will have to wait their turns.

Football is sort of an exception, because no other sport commands as much interest. When schools built huge venues that can attract thousands of screaming fans for events that generate as much excitement as Friday night high school football, we’ll cover those sports year-round, too.

Sorry, fans of basketball, but for as loud as you’ve been cheering this year, there aren’t that many of you. Valencia High’s girls team has 16 wins, or one win for every 10 fans at most of their home games. Hoops needs more support than simply two student sections at in-county rivalry games.

I’ve learned all the words to T.I.’s “Bring Em Out” this year, not because I dig the song, but because I’m hearing the lyrics instead of more crowd noise.

Chanting about whatever sport in which their school beat the opposing school lately? Let’s see more focus on the action on the court.

Still, hoops, wrestling and swimming are our priorities in the winter months. We’re approaching what I call the “Spring Sports Equinox,” when winter and spring sports are taking place at the same time. It’s a challenging time for us, and a part of the year when it’s really tough to squeeze in stories about, say, fall-sports issues.

Even if you find it tough to support your in-season team, especially if things aren’t going so well, we will. While we naturally tend to give attention to the more successful in-season teams, we cover every varsity team in the county.

As for stories on coaches or adults or even college athletes from this area, those are secondary to what young people are doing in varsity competition right now. They hear the clichés all the time about how they’re our leaders of tomorrow, how they’ll be running things in 10 or 20 years, but it’s true. The knowledge and experience that will be used to solve 2032 problems is being gained at 2012 pools, courts, mats, fields, tracks and arenas.

Athletes have to work hard for years to get to the varsity level, and can’t understand why we don’t have the manpower to cover junior varsity, C-teams and middle schools. But there are 10 winter programs, 16 in the spring (17 if you include rodeo) and there are no plans to increase our two-reporter team that must choose which events to cover in person.

We use that two-person team to focus on the sports that are in season. It’s still too bad that New Mexico makes basketball season so long, with using the Pit the second week of March as the driving force. If the New Mexico Activities Association had access to a venue it could use any time, the entire high school calendar could be more flexible.

In-season sports take priority over many elements of our section — including our On Deck column. Many of our readers still do not understand that On Deck is something we run only when we have space, and our space for news and sports content is dictated by how much advertising is purchased for each issue.

There are plenty of months in the year to focus on different sports. Be patient, and we’ll get to your favorite sport — unless your favorite sport is being played right now.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.