BUFFALO — There was some good news from the sporting world that you might have missed, given all the hullabaloo surrounding drama within the Buffalo Bills training camp and the team’s opening day loss to the New England Patriots.
The good news is that the Buffalo area is not a major sports market.
MaxPreps.com, an online high school sports site and a CBSSports.com affiliate, announced it was launching sites dedicated to providing “hyperlocal” coverage of 40 metropolitan areas, across the country. MaxPreps.com’s national data and content is now available to high school sports fans on a city-by-city level “across digital platforms.”
The release went on to detail how the sites will feature top games of the week and provide more localized content, including the MaxPreps score stream.
“Social integration of local school and reporter Twitter feeds will allow fans to stay up-to-the-minute on the latest news. Additionally, users will be able to upload their own photos and videos.”
The first cities to be blanketed by this approach were New York, Sacramento, Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver, the Bay Area, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Cincinnati. The fourth and final wave of cities in the vast network includes Indianapolis, Kansas City, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C. That will bring the total to 40 cities.
The fact that Buffalo was excluded from this “more localized content” is good to hear, because readers already can find some of the best coverage of local high school and amateur sports in the pages of their numerous community newspapers. In fact, we were the ones who invented the concept of “hyperlocal.”
The release from the distant media magnet stated that each of its big city sites will provide users with upcoming game schedules, recent scores and stat leaders. Well, Buffalo’s suburban newspapers have been doing that since before Babe Ruth was a New York Yankee.
Being able to read about the team representing the school you attended or the school your children attend is about as local as you can get. Kids who may never get their name in the paper otherwise might show up on page one. Those family clippings make their way to refrigerator doors and scrapbook pages, faster than you can double-click on a link to some distant webmaster.
Our region’s community sports reporters are well known to the athletic directors, coaches, players and fans, and the best of them have plaques and certificates to show for their efforts. Yet, the real reward might be that they operate on a first-name basis with the teachers working the gate at the football field and the clerk at the coffee shop. It’s a tribute to Western New York’s small-town nature that this personal level of recognition still exists in the modern, digital age.
Newspaper publishers from Grand Island to Springville know local news is solid gold.
It remains to be seen how successful the MaxPreps venture will be. It’s difficult to say how many hits will justify high school listings in metro Atlanta, for example, where there are 26 public school systems. There are also more than 150 private schools. I might be going out on a limb, but I’d bet metro Atlanta’s community newspapers, of which there are at least 20 covering different neighborhoods and ethnic groups, are already doing a pretty good job of this.
Buffalo’s status as a smaller market unworthy of the attention of MaxPreps is fine with me. It gives us the opportunity to cover bowling and volleyball with the same vitality as someone accredited by the International Olympic Committee.
Our streetcorner journalism does not begin or end with high school sports. But who can resist the urge to keep current with a local school team eager to reach the unreachable star?
David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.