Too Much of a Good Thing
by Dan Eberhard

Once upon a time it was special for high school athletes to make the headlines. Having your name mentioned on the radio or television was an honor and gave you a sense of accomplishment.  Parents were actually excited to see cameras at their kid’s games and they rushed home to watch the 11 o’clock news.

Unfortunately the expectations of coverage from some of the parents have become a bit irrational.  Supporters of local high schools now feel it’s their right to get media attention instead of a privilege.

I was disturbed when I received a phone call from the parent of a D.H. Conley baseball player last week.  The woman was angry because she felt the Vikings weren’t getting enough coverage during the current season.  She implied that I wasn’t being fair to the viewers of eastern North Carolina because some schools received more attention than others.

She was exactly right.  Some schools do receive more attention than others and D.H. Conley is one of those schools.  The campus is conveniently located in the Greenville area, the home of WNCT-TV, the bureau site of WCTI and WITN along with Pirate Radio 1250.  For television stations it’s easy to make the drive over to DHC to cover a 7:00 pm game and get back in time to take care of the rest of the show. 
Elsewhere in the region, great teams and great players get left out of the spotlight too often because they’re geographically too difficult to travel to and get back in time to make a deadline. 

On a Friday night during the high school football season, television stations get help from news photographers.  It’s a total station effort to ensure we get as many games on the air as possible.  However, for everything else that goes on, it’s usually up to the two-man sports department.  Four days out of the week there is only one person running the show because we too need a day off every now and then. 

“Surprisingly” the angry caller felt that J.H. Rose receives too much media attention.  Again, I agree JHR gets more coverage than anybody in our market.  But you have to give credit where credit is due.  The Rampants have won back-to-back state football and baseball championships.  It’s a tricky balance, trying to share the wealth while also making sure you acknowledge greatness.

D.H. Conley also falls into this category of giving credit where credit is due.  After their epic win in the Big East Championship game and again on Tuesday in the state playoffs over J.H. Rose, the Vikings received excellent coverage from all the media outlets involved.

Perhaps the media must blame itself for this whole mess.  The competition between stations to cover more games is so great that the bar has become too high.  Sometimes, you have to wonder if more harm has been done than good because it’s not possible to be completely fair to everyone.  There aren’t enough resources to appease everyone.  There are just too many teams too spread out.   

Believe it or not Greenville area schools have it made.  I attended Wake Forest-Rolesville High School.  My junior year we played Athens Drive in the state playoffs.  Josh Hamilton pitched that night for Athens Drive and one month later signed a million dollar contract as the number one overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.  No television crews showed up to watch him pitch and no newspaper reporter covered the game.  Nobody was surprised.  In most areas of the country, outside of high school football you don’t see a lot of prep sports hi-lites.

If possible, I’d have every young athlete on the play-of-the-day at least once.  The best part about covering high school athletics is capturing a great moment and then being able to show it to all the sports fans that tune in.  It’s a shame when people take the time out of their day to hang a black cloud over something you work hard at. 

As for D.H. Conley, I’ll be at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Saturday when they play in the Eastern Regional Final.  I won’t be covering the game because any parent wants me too.  I’ll be covering the game for the players of both teams that have worked hard throughout the season and are deserving of such attention.  I’ll be covering the game for respectable coaches like Jason Mills of D.H. Conley.  I’ll be covering the game hopefully for one baseball fan that’s excited to see their team’s hi-lites after the game.

Dan Eberhard