Local Sports Journal

LewisIt was with a huge sense of accomplishment, and with a whole lot of tired eyes and grumpy dispositions,  that the writers of the Local Sports Journal finished our second annual boys and girls high school basketball preview section.

Like the football preview we released last fall, the special section (as those of us once in the newspaper business used to call it) featured previews on every single high school basketball team from Grand Haven to Ludington, from Montague to Newaygo, from Fruitport to Mason County Central to Kent City.

Sure, we were all a bit snake bitten after finishing the ‘tab’ in early December.  Speaking for myself, I wrote 16 full boys basketball previews and five smaller boys basketball capsules in just four days.

Mind you, this was just a day or so removed from our full-scale assault on the football state finals, where Muskegon Catholic and Muskegon represented the area well in their respective state title games.

But, we all agreed it was something we felt we needed to do, lest the kids in our community get shafted once again.

Maybe then you can understand why I nearly lost my head a few weeks back, when a dastardly fellow suggested that, despite all our hard work, we should be giving away the preview section for free.

It happened like this:  The tab was printed and in our hands, and the things weren’t going to sell themselves.  Translation-Now, we had to move all this print.

Perhaps you saw us at a whole load of games this past December, scaling through the stands of your favorite teams doing our darnedest to unload a few issues. This kind of thing is good for a guy like me; I have a tendency to be a shoegazing introvert (I am a philosophy grad, you might remember) and unless pushed by the need to sell these tabs, I will sit in humble silence, ear buds in my ears, while waiting to cover a game.

And so – with the help of several local stores, including Plumbs – it was up to all of us to sell all those tabs. And sell we did, at any school that would let us. And I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, meeting people, hearing about how much they loved the Local Sports Journal’s coverage this past fall.

I even had one guy tell me that the three-part series I wrote about football and head injuries helped him deal with his own son’s head injury , which he had suffered earlier in the season. He told me it gave him a big of comfort during a very difficult time.

People, that is the reason we do what we do at the LSJ!

To know that we helped someone deal with his or child’s injury through our writing…well, I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

But, of course, it hasn’t been all rainbows and kitten whiskers in regards to the preview section.

One particular time, in fact, I nearly lost my lid. I was cruising through an area school’s stands, selling tabs, making friends, giving and receiving compliments…the whole nine yards.

Then I ran into a couple of guys who, seeing I was selling something, inquired as to my wares.

“It’s our annual basketball preview,” I responded. “It has previews of every single high school team in the area. Full rosters for 42 featured teams, capsules on 11 more teams, player head shots, great write ups by Jim Moyse and Ron Rop, boys and girls schedules for every night of the season…”

I added, “All for $3.”

A measly three dollars.

“That’s too much,” he replied. “You should be charging a buck or two. But hey, listen. Come back to me at the end of the night, when you’re giving those away for free. I’ll take one then.”

My face grew a little red…I was sorta hot.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” I responded after the shock wore off. “I’ll burn these previews before I give them to you for free.”

He shuffled in his seat, and then turned away from me to talk with a friend.

True, I’m pretty much given to extreme hyperbole. I’ve given plenty of previews away for free.

Clearly, that’s not the point.

I’m not going to let anyone get away with that kind of garbage. We work worked hard on the basketball preview, and while we don’t require anyone buy it, obviously we want everyone to know about it.

And pay the three bucks for it.

In an age where everything is mass produced and assembled with little expense in far-off places, you’d think something from the pens (OK, laptops and tablets) of local writers with deep roots in the community would be worth more than what you paid for the crappy T-shirt at…that place.

There I go with more hyperbole.

Seriously though, there are still a few basketball previews around, and if you happen to see one, please-please-please, if you haven’t already, pick one up, buy it and read it from cover to cover.

Remember that it was written with a lot of love and with a lot of determination.

Besides, it’s only three bucks.


Where can you find your very own, one of kind (well, one of 3,000) copy of the 2013-14 Local Sports Journal boys and girls basketball preview section?

Look no further than:

Plumbs Stores (Sherman Boulevard, North Muskegon and Whitehall locations)

Ladd’s & Co. on Henry Street

Pick N Pack on Henry Street

Norton Mini Mart on McCracken Street

Jacks Corner Store on (Old) Grand Haven Road

Fruitport Orchard Market on Airline Road

Town & Country Grocery on Apple Avenue