My fascination and interest in newspapers began with the sports page.
It wasn't the stories or the photos that attracted me -- it was the scores, standings and statistics. It was the numbers. On Monday mornings in the fall, you could name an NFL quarterback, and I could tell you his stats from the previous day. Not because I saw the game, but because I had judiciously studied the agate page in The State, the Columbia, S.C. newspaper.
Back then, I didn't know it was "agate" that was holding my attention so. In newspaper speak, agate is nothing more than data we put in small print. Stocks and real estate transactions are examples of agate. But in general, if you say "agate" to someone in the newspaper biz, sports is the first thing that comes to mind.
I've always loved sports agate. It's where you find the minutiae from the sports world, the stuff that geeks like me can't get enough of. The agate page is where I can find out who won the Presbyterian-Newberry game, and whether Navy got any "also receiving votes" in the Top 25 poll. It's where I can find out how many games out of the first place the Braves are, and whether anyone from my wife's alma mater -- Texas A&M University at Kingsville -- got taken in the NFL draft. It's where I can find the Coed B softball scores and the Rec League basketball standings.
Quick lesson for sports reporters: Write a sports feature worthy of a Pulitzer and no one will call, but fail to update the NASCAR Nextel Cup points, and your phone won't stop ringing.
An advantage that we have over the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and other daily newspapers that circulate in this county is that we print our paper three hours later. That means we can get late sports scores and updated standings into our newspaper that the others can't. An example occurred Wednesday -- Miami won the NBA title, but the Post's statewide editions went to press before the game ended. We had complete game coverage.
Two changes we have made in recent months have allowed us to get more scores, standings and statistics into the newspaper. The first was upgrading our Associated Press services to include more sports data. For example, we used to only receive statistics on Big 12 college football games; now, we get stats on every Division I game and nearly all others, as well. We get scores and standings on just about every professional sport imaginable.
Also, we dedicated an entire tabloid page in the Today and a broadsheet page in the Sunday Pilot & Today to "Sports Scoreboard," our sports agate page. That allowed us to make sure we always have the space to publish updated scores and standings from the major sports leagues -- NFL, MLB and NHL -- every day they are in season. Of course, there is much, much more to be found on the Scoreboard page.
It should be noted that local scores and standings go on the Scoreboard page. Want to report local Little League, adult softball or bowling scores and standings? Just send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will get published.
We're a small newspaper, so we rarely have space to publish stories about everything that happens on the national sports scene. But thanks to sports agate, we can, at a minimum, get all the scores in.
If you have something you'd like to see in our daily agate report, e-mail or call me.
From the Editor appears Thursdays in the Steamboat Today. Send questions to Scott Stanford at email@example.com or call him at 871-4221.