My interest in sports came at an early age.

When I was about 10 years old, my brother-in-law took my niece and me on a train trip. It was a short train ride, from Huntington, West Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio. The purpose of the excursion was to see the Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball team.

My memories of that trip are marvelous, although I couldn’t tell you who won the game or even what team the Reds were playing. But I remember a little piggy bank-type toy, that had a miniature bat representing each team in Major League Baseball, that I bought. And, I remember buying a Superman comic book at the train station before we returned home.

From then on, even though I remember little about the game I saw, I was hooked on the Reds. I still am and I’m downright disgusted they can’t put together a win streak of more than three games this summer.

But, I love other sports too. I coached youth basketball. I try to play golf. I have friends coaching college and even pro basketball that I follow. I love sports. After I scan the front page every day, I turn to sports.

What about you?

One of my myriad of duties at the Sun is to advise our sports department. The three sports writers we have (one doubles as the sports editor for the Venice Gondolier Sun) do great covering the local sports scene, but their job is no walk in the park.

Sometimes, they might cover a local sports event and then come in the office to write the story and oversee the production of the eight-page sports section. That means making sure all the right stories get in the paper.

All the right stories is the kicker.

Who decides what all the right stories are?

One thing I have learned — starting with the 15 years I worked in the sports department of two previous newspapers — is that everyone has their own idea what stories should be on the sports page.

Well, we have to start with our Tampa Bay Rays. After all, they have spring training here and they are the closest professional sports team we have — along with the Tampa Bay Bucs pro football team.

After that, we prioritize our local sports teams — especially when school is in. That can be a little dicey if you don’t have enough stringers (freelancers) to cover all the Friday night football games or weekly basketball games.

What happens if coaches, either too tired, too forgetful or too embarrassed by a loss, don’t call you when their team plays out of the area. How do you explain that to the fans? How do you explain that to the kids who play hard and want to see their efforts recorded on our sports pages?

What is more important, NASCAR or PGA golf? How about LPGA golf? Do people care about women’s professional basketball? What about the Stone Crabs? I have already heard from a lady who believes we need more stories on the Stone Crabs.

If you like and read sports, I’d like to hear from you. How are we doing? What can we realistically do better? Send your thoughts to john.hackworth@yoursun.com.

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