Last Friday Brother Martin High School beat Holy Cross, 42- 10 and Hahnville defeated East John 42-26. I know because both scores were among several on the front pages of the two newspapers; the daily and the sometimes daily. On both front pages the prep scores were featured in enlarged sections. “Prep Football” The Times-Picayune bannered; “4 Pages of Prep Action” The New Orleans Advocate boasted.
Game action shots embellished both front pages.
Prep football has always gotten coverage from the local media. With all the schools, kids and parents, the reporting is a good way to draw attention to a publication – certainly a way to attract a younger audience that might also be of value to advertisers. (And wouldn’t it be nice if they stumbled on the editorial page.) In the case of The Times-Picayune, the return of a Saturday home-delivered edition (at least through the football season) is due largely to cash in on prep coverage.
While the newspapers have increased their effort television has already been there. At WGNO/Ch. 26, Ed Daniels pioneered extensive Friday night prep reporting; broadcast veteran Kenny Trahan has done the same with radio. WWL-TV/Ch. 4 has expanded its Friday 10 p.m. converge, including extra time for scores.
Out in the stadiums of the land are an army of “stringers” calling in scores and a cadre of camera crews running from game to game hoping to catch a highlight or two. In newsrooms, editors put together hurried packages and anchors make sense of it all. For whatever action there is on the field, the process of getting so many game scores reported quickly in the face of so much competition is the night’s greatest sport.
During my prep years there was not as much coverage, though some of the big rivalries were huge events that could almost pack the stadium in City Park. The newspapers did have a prep columnist, whose name I remember but won’t reveal because those of us who went elsewhere thought was biased in favor of Jesuit High School. Overlooking the fact that the Blue Jays generally fielded really good teams, we figured he was another example of the global Jesuit conspiracy. (The fact that a Jesuit is now Pope would have added to our skepticisms.) Fight songs still reverberate though my mind: “Jesuit High Alma Mater Dear,” “Cheer, Cheer for Old Holy Cross,” “You nave the fight, fight, fight, maroon and white, white, white.”
City Park’s stadium, now known as Tad Gormley, was the perfect setting. The seating area of the U-shaped arena was separated by a wide walkway that followed the curve. It was perfect for looking and being seen, which, if you weren’t playing, was part of what high school football was about. If you missed part of the game while taking a walk, you could read about it in the paper the next morning.
Which brings us back to present-day sports coverage; it occurs to me how right the standard broadsheet newspaper is for analyzing the games. There is room for lots of actions shots and comparing the score while turning from game to game. There are some things that newspapers do better than the Internet; high school scores by the bushel is one of them. By the way, did you notice that last Friday night St. Thomas Aquinas High defeated Northlake Christian 42-21? Counting the Brother Martin and Hahnville scores that’s three games in which the winning team scored 42 points. That is the stuff of discovery on Saturday mornings.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.