Prep sports news coverage could be so much better

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

I’m not without guilt, and I’m not going to cast a stone at a news industry or its colleagues who determine its business model. So, I offer this admonition as a constructive observation learned from my experience in the print news media about the wants and desires of readers:

The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate heralds itself as “New Orleans’ Daily Newspaper.” But, in actuality, the TPNOA is just a bureau of the Baton Rouge Advocate.

The editors insert New Orleans news to fill the void of holes around Baton Rouge news that runs daily in the capital city. Doing so is less wear and tear on the editors and layout people who have the burden to finish the paper’s production by 9 p.m. (with few exceptions) nightly.

True, it circulates locally on a seven-day basis at a cost that is not commensurate to its size or content.

So what’s the beef? The TPNOA is much better than what the former T-P owners left behind on a three-days-per-week basis, while weaning readers toward their website if they wanted more than the cut-down version of a news article. To, me and I’m sure many subscribers, the question is: Where’s the beef?

OK, so I’m a prep guy –  always have been and proud of it. And as a newsman much more interested in learning more about which high school teams won their games the previous night than how LSU’s gymnastic team fared, I question the placement of news stories.

LSU gymnastics is fine if you live on Highland Road, but in New Orleans, that story should be relegated to Page 7 and not Page 1, unless the purple and gold win Olympic gold. 

If you’re a sports fan and subscriber who lives in any of the Crescent City’s residential wards, I’m guessing you’d want to see something – anything – published on the outcome of a game between Booker T. Washington vs. Sophie Wright before an event that has garnered some interest west of Prairieville.

Don’t misunderstand me. I enjoy watching gymnastics at the Summer Games – moreso than the canoe slalom or equestrian dressage events.

I would love to know, for my own records how Livingston Collegiate Prep or Kenner Discovery’s teams fared.

If you haven’t heard of these two local schools, you’re forgiven. They are not in the front row, center of local high school sports coverage.

Aware of deadline problems

As a former manager of a prep sports staff, I fully realize that every game cannot be staffed by a warm body as it was in the past, when all (major) sports rated a few graphs or at least a call-in.

I’d be happy to see the Sunday prep sports section carry the volleyball schedules for the week, as it does for football. A worse problem is the ridiculous 9 p.m. deadline the TPNOA executives place on the editors, which defeats the purpose of covering night games.

An early deadline makes it  unlikely that the prep heads will send a “stringer” to cover such an event that will appear in the morning paper. So, readers will again be redirected to the website.

Nor will an editor request that the home team have someone at least phone in the result, as had been done in the past to assure every school is represented by game information.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to dictate to the sports and prep editors how they should run their departments,  just how to give readers more informational bang for their bucks. But doing so would require at least a 10 p.m. deadline.

Being a weekly publication whose mission is to further the Catholic faith and promote its schools, the Clarion Herald is limited in space and content. So, we don’t have the resources that is available to a large daily to provide expanded game coverage.

We all have our crosses to bear, and I understand that the owners who risked their investment to give New Orleans a form of daily print journalism have a keen eye on their bottom line. I suppose, in that case, less has a better rate of return than more.

All this being said, God bless the Georges for preserving the written word in a city addicted to reading the morning news and ads over a cup of coffee.

Even though the TPNOA falls woefully short of reaching its potential, it IS better than the alternative left behind by the Newhouse boys, who inherited a great legacy from their father but didn’t know what to do with it because they did not understand the news business.

I think about that every time I pass the rubble of what used to be one of America’s great daily newspapers.

Coaches a blessing

I have a nice problem of choosing a volleyball Coach of the Year in about a month.

The dilemma is that archdiocesan schools are blessed with some of the most talented coaches in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. And selecting the most outstanding individual is like choosing between a Ferrari F40 and a Lamborghini Aventator.

The list and their accomplishments are extensive:

Start with Jay Jay Juan of Ursuline Academy, considered the dean of Catholic school volleyball mentors, and Mount Carmel’s April Hagadone, both frequent recipients of top coaching honors locally and in the Louisiana circles.

Both are now athletic directors at their respective schools and still directing substitutions on the bench.

The Lions, coached by Juan, a sideline thespian as well a brilliant strategist, started off rather slowly, but should sweep its district and reach a peak by state tournament time (Nov. 14-16).

Hagadone’s last five Mount Carmel teams have collected Division I state championship trophies.

Then there are Cabrini’s Kasey Laird-Dennies and Ashley Ruckert of the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Both are former statewide Most Valuable Players who led their schools to division championships, and both are Clarion Herald MVP alums.

Laird-Dennies, who won the honor by leading Cabrini to the 2007 Division II title, has led the Crescents to a 25-4 record. And Ruckert, the MVP of the 2002 Division II tournament, has her alma mater winning 15 games despite  just two seniors on her 14-player roster.

I haven’t forgotten about Dominican’s Jessica Chatellier whose squad is the district leader following an Oct. 15 victory at Mount Carmel. The veteran coach has put together a team that has won 23-of-31 matches.

Another stellar coaching job by Don Landry has Academy of Our Lady enjoying its finest season at 19-4. The Penguins’ rise has not gone unnoticed.

At Pope John Paul II, Danny Tullis can pit his resume against any coach’s. He led more than one school to state titles, and although his team (26-6) appears to lack the overall talent of the past (except for daughter Ansley), it is still one of the best in its division.

Two other coaches who merit praise are Archbishop Hannan’s Rebekka Bonnaffee and Archbishop Chapelle’s Anne Marie Stelly, whose teams will win district titles.

Yes, I have a nice problem to solve.

Ron Brocato can be reached at

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