Traipsing over to Clarkston for the Seaport Invite today. Coach Denton always sets up and runs a nice race and I like the course, but this meet will be a bit sad.
For the first time in nearly a decade, I won't be working as a volunteer at the Invite. I've acted as timer - apparently my right thumb is useful to cross country - for nearly a decade. Last year at this race, I watched the immortal Les McDowell starting, and thought that when he laid down the gun for the last time, I might try to fill his shoes.
Les does a great job of starting, and gets less appreciation than he should. I've never seen a bad race start, cross country or track, for any age group, when he ran the show. I asked him at last year's meet if he would mind training me.
He agreed. And at a track meet this past year, I had to apologize and guit on the idea.
I had a new one, a new role I wanted to fill. Being somewhat an overachiever (when the mood strikes,) I get to create something both new - and old, at the same time.
We used to have reporting on the races that happened around the country. Local newspapers carried the results of road races, and the seasons at the local schools. School newspapers did, too.
Somewhere, that disappeared. Costs, not just for materials, but for labor was a part of it. A larger part was the growing dependence of local papers on the AP. There is little real reporting in most newspapers, just regurgitations of the national line.
That's the old.
The new relies on two simple ideas - pixels are free, and writers like to write (and like to see their name on a byline.)
A community of young writers learning their trade (and yes, it's a trade. Once upon a time, newspapermen had high school educations and worked their way up to reporter) can do so for next to no cost, maybe a couple of hundred dollars for the website. I front the cost on that (folks that buy my books help because ten percent of the profits head back to local teams.)
Why the newspapers, who already have the infrastructure, don't run with this is beyond me except perhaps they've forgotten that they serve communities of readers.
So today, instead of timing, I'll be looking for story ideas, pictures to highlight the athletes, and keeping my sense of joy while I watch it all.
I find it very exciting, even if it's also hard work. I think I'm going to miss timing. It was a small job, but I knew I was helping. Now I hope that I'm helping and I won't know either way for years to come.