This week's column is a continuation of a conversation with George Solomon, the assistant managing editor for sports news, covering issues that readers have raised.
Q: What's the biggest challenge in covering high school sports?
Solomon: To try to cover the most teams, the best teams and different sports. We've got a couple of hundred schools in the circulation area, and we cover girls now as much as we do boys. . . . We try to be fair in our coverage and distribute the focus around the region. Do we do too much on DeMatha? Probably, but they have been the best sports team over the past 25 years.
Q: In general, how do you decide which sports to cover?
A: We cover major league baseball because we feel in this area of 4 million people there is great interest in baseball, even though there is no major league baseball team in the District of Columbia or Northern Virginia. The Baltimore Orioles are within an hour's drive of a couple of million people, and we cover them--even though we also cover Washington's and Northern Virginia's attempt to secure a baseball team. We do a lot of golf and tennis. We cover horse racing. We have an outdoors writer, who writes about hunting and fishing and hiking and boating and sailing. . . . I'm [asked], "Why don't you do rowing?" Okay, that's a legitimate question, but we have to make decisions. You try to please as many people as you can, knowing you can't please everyone. But if you can't please someone today, maybe three days from now you can please them.
Q: What about NASCAR? Some readers want more coverage of stock car racing.
A: We've increased our NASCAR coverage. We do more every year. We don't cover a race a week, but we try to do more--just like we try to cover the major horse races and the major golf tournaments and the major tennis events. We try to pick our spots.
Q: I heard a few complaints that the outcome of the Travers Stakes horse race was reported in a mere three-paragraph news brief in August.
A: We should have done more. If they put on my tombstone, "He Should Have Covered the Travers More," I can live with that.
Q: Some readers who read only English say that they are shortchanged because those who read Spanish get more soccer news than they do. Why is there a soccer page in Spanish, and why is the news different from that carried in English?
A: We felt that the community has changed sufficiently in the past several years [that] a number of people in the area feel more comfortable reading Spanish than English, and many of them really enjoy soccer. We felt this would be a way to serve them. If we're covering the World Cup in English and Spanish, that's one event covered in two languages in separate stories. We have a separate staff that does the the Spanish. We feel that many of our readers enjoy the local leagues where the participants are Hispanics. We write a notes column of those leagues, which we feel would not be of as much interest for our English-speaking readers. Sometimes we may get a feature on a player or something like that that would be of more interest to our Hispanic readers.
Q: Why aren't cheerleading competitions covered?
A: Cheerleading is a terrific activity which we admire and respect, but I have never gotten a notice [ahead of time] that there will be a Washington-area cheerleading competition. If I did, between the Extras and the Weeklies [geographically zoned sections], I'm sure we could get something into the paper.
Feel free to comment on the Sports section or any other part of the newspaper. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 334-7582.