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Columbia Missourian

Thoughts on basketball, asterisks and other sports

By Tom Warhover
February 26, 2009 | 4:02 p.m. CST

Dear Reader,

Thanks for all the feedback.

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Most of it was prompted by the upcoming changes — today is the last Weekend Missourian as the newspaper moves to publishing Tuesday through Friday and Sundays.

But the comments ranged beyond publication days. Sports was a favorite topic.

Several readers criticized the lack of coverage of Rock Bridge High School basketball. The boys’ and girls’ teams have had extraordinary seasons – as of Thursday afternoon, the boys were 24-2 and ranked No. 4 in the state, while the girls (22-4) were ranked No. 5.

Their criticisms are absolutely correct. Sports editor Greg Bowers and I agreed: There will be significantly more reporting on those teams. Immediately.

The old saying for news is that readers’ interest is either an inch wide and a mile deep or a mile wide and an inch deep: You either want a little bit on a lot of subjects or in-depth coverage on a narrow set of things that interest you.

With sports, the interest runs toward a mile wide and a mile deep. After all, who would want to read a story about an asterisk?

Answer: Mizzou football fans.

Back in November, beat reporter David Ubben wrote about an asterisk that mysteriously appeared on a plaque with the annual winners of the Missouri-Iowa State Telephone Trophy game.

I loved it. Readers at the time said they did, too.

David went a mile deep on that little punctuation mark. Judges this week noticed, too: The story was picked as one of the top 10 in explanatory sports writing among professional newspapers under 40,000 in print circulation.

Winning in the Associated Press Sports Editors contest is, as Greg wrote in a note, “a Big Deal.” (Your sports editor is pretty effusive that way.)

There’s a whole bunch of success by teams across our town. MU men’s basketball will make the NCAA tournament. Rock Bridge teams could go deep in the playoffs. MU softball is off to one of its best starts ever.

I’ll try to make sure they’re all covered adequately and with the kind of deep reporting that makes a difference. You’ll let me know when we don’t.