Magazine article The Quill

Prep Sports Suspensions Must Be Reported

Magazine article The Quill

Prep Sports Suspensions Must Be Reported

Article excerpt

Is the suspension of high school athletes newsworthy? Absolutely, and especially when it affects a game's outcome.

Nowhere is community pride reflected more strongly than in hometown, high school sports. A season's ups and downs are talk of the town - from coffee shops to barber shops to break rooms to dinner tables. The headaches of coaches - including successes and failures of teams - often are common knowledge. The widespread attention is why community newspapers should report the accomplishments and shortcomings of teams and individual athletes.

Fans deserve to know why athletes, in particular those who are integral to a team's success, miss a game. The issue of reporting suspensions goes beyond sports. It quite often involves chemical health and as such is part of a far greater community discussion.

Newspapers won't win a lot of points for identifying suspended athletes. That doesn't mean they should shirk from reporting the facts. Missing players can affect a team's performance. If a player is injured, it's reported. If someone is out for other reasons, that ought to be told, too.

There are other reasons for telling the truth:

Suspended players, looking perfectly healthy, sit on the bench during a game. Fans deserve to be told why.

Players may miss a game for other legitimate reasons. A general statement "several players were missing either due to suspensions or injuries" - unfairly brands them all.

In most cases, players have a choice whether to be involved in an activity which may result in suspension. Before they can play athletics, they often sign a contract to abide by rules.

Newspapers also can make a case for constructing suspensions as "good news." Each report is an acknowledgement that coaches are holding youths accountable for their actions. It's a positive reflection on playing by the rules as opposed to winning at any cost.

Are editors sensationalizing suspensions only to sell more newspapers? Such criticism is an insult to the resources and space that most newspapers devote to promoting high school sports. If sensationalism were the intent, an athlete's photo and name would be in page-one headlines.

Critics may charge double standards in reporting violations of high school policy for athletes. What about students who are withheld from band or speech competition for rules violations? …

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