Spoiler alert: In community journalism, which includes weekly newspapers such as The Suburbanite, it’s OK – even encouraged – the local teams.
Shhh! Don’t tell the college journalism professors that, Don’t breathe a word of it to them. They just might get mad. Actually, they would definitely get mad.
When covering an event, sports writers are supposed to get rid of any rooting interest and favoritism and be objective, so that they may write an unbiased story.
Those are the rules if you’re writing for dailies, especially big dailies, and particularly if you’re covering college and pro teams and leagues.
And that’s how it should be for those papers.
But The Suburbanite isn’t a daily, not even a small one, and we don’t cover the colleges and pros. So those rules don’t apply to us.
We cover the high schools in our .. well, coverage area. Imagine that?
That includes the Springfield Spartans, Coventry Comets, Jackson Polar Bears, Lake Center Christian Tigers, Green Bulldogs, Lake Blue Streaks and Manchester Panthers.
They are us. We are them. They are part of the community, just like The Suburbanite is.
So when the teams from those schools do well, we beam with pride. We whoop it up. It is a success story – the community’s success story.
That’s why we’re whooping it up – three times over, in fact – after Lake, Jackson and Green finished in a three-way tie for the Federal League boys basketball championship this season. In our view, it doesn’t get any better – it can’t get any better – than that.
That came about after host Lake rallied to edge Jackson 58-56 in a real thriller last Friday night. That, coupled with Green’s 49-35 victory over North Canton Hoover that evening, means that the Blue Streaks, Polar Bears and Bulldogs ended with 9-3 league records. Canton McKinley was just a game back at 8-4 in one of the tightest races in the history of the Federal League.
Lake improved to 17-3 overall and Green to 13-7, while Jackson fell to 15-5.
Some teams put their focus on winning the league title, figuring that excellence among your closest peers is what counts most. In fact, a lot of them do that.
Others point toward the postseason tournament, figuring that excellence on a regional and state-wide basis is more far-reaching both literally and figuratively, and thus worth more.
And still others value the league and tournament equally, figuring that it’s worth their while to push for excellence in both regards.
Really, it’s a matter of taste. And in that way, then, to each their own.
Bur it’s hard – really, really hard – to win a state title, let alone make it to the regional tournament, the last stop before the state tourney. A lot of good teams – even great ones – fall short of that every year.
So it may be more realistic to shoot for a league championship.
Whatever the case, Jackson, Green and Lake have to be thrilled with a piece of the Federal League title.
Lake had to defeat Jackson – the defending Division I state champion – to get its share. That’s no small task. Thus, to do it is oh, so satisfying for the Blue Streaks, who, despite their success through the years under head coach Tom McBride, never seem to get their just due.
Jackson has won two state titles since 2010, making it one of the most successful programs – in any division – in the state during that time. The Polar Bears go into most seasons as the team to beat. So to come back after a state championship, and the loss through graduation of a lot of talented players, and have great success again this year, has to be oh, so satisfying for head coach Tm Debevec’s bunch.
This is Green’s first Federal League title because the school hasn’t been in the league very long. That first one is always memorable, and in the case of head coach Mark Kinsley’s Bulldogs, it’s oh, so satisfying because it proves that they belong in the league, especially to those who think that the school never should have left the Suburban League.
For three different – but nonetheless equally worthy – reasons, Green, Lake and Jackson go into this week, and the upcoming tournament, feeling very good about themselves and what they have already accomplished.
And those of us at The Suburbanite are feeling very good about it, too, even if the college journalism professors think we shouldn’t be.