'Motives' are based on reality

October 07, 2002|by MARK KELLER

Readers sometimes think we have ulterior motives when we decide which sporting events we are going to send reporters to cover.

Readers sometimes think we have ulterior motives when we rank local high school teams.

Readers sometimes think we have ulterior motives when we make predictions on games.

I promise. We don't have it in for anybody.

In talking with and reading letters and e-mails from readers, I have found the vast majority likes our sports section, and for that I'm thankful. I think most recognize the effort the sports staff puts into making our section the best it can be.

Several times over the last two years, I've used this space to explain how we decide which games we will cover and which ones we will photograph.


The reasoning hasn't changed - we still try to get to as many events as possible, starting with the major events and working back from there.

We realize that, to the parties involved, every game is a major event. It's great to think that way and we are sensitive to that feeling. For that reason, we open our phone lines every night to take calls from coaches on the events that were not attended by one of our reporters.

Would we like to be at those events? Certainly. Few nights go by in our office that there is not a game on our local schedule that prompts me to think, "I really wish we could have had somebody there."

The reality of the situation is it's unrealistic for us to be at every event, due to the size of our coverage area and our staff. Our absence from an event is never meant as a slight to a school, team or community and should never be misconstrued as a sign that we do not care.

Most times, it's just a numbers game in which we rarely come out on top.

The Herald-Mail has been ranking sports teams for as long as I can remember, and the polls have always been a lightning rod for some people.

One of my colleagues two weeks ago wrote, "Don't take the polls seriously, at least not this early in the season."

We certainly do want our readers to take our polls seriously. We research the local teams when we do the rankings and base them on the results of their games.

What makes the rankings difficult is the fragmentation of our circulation area. For example, three of the seven teams in our football poll this week will not play any other team in the rankings.

So how do we rank the teams? Basically, we flip a coin.

No, not really. All we can do is base the rankings on the team's performances and the level of their competition. So a 1-3 Chambersburg team gets a little more consideration because it plays much better teams than, say, a 3-1 Hancock team.

As for making predictions, it's all done in fun. We're not out to show anybody up or put anybody down. It's just like your basic office pool, only there's no wagering involved.

Oh, yeah ... and I also don't know who Big Sydney is.

Mark Keller is the sports editor of The Herald-Mail. You can reach him at 301-733-5131, extension 2332, or by e-mail at

The Herald-Mail Articles