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— If you have been watching or reading the news lately, you may have read of the newspaper war between the folks who run the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and their associated papers, and those who operated the Morning News in those various cities. Those papers are now merged with now just one paper in each of the larger cities in northwest Arkansas.

As with any merger, several jobs were eliminated and the same was true with this particular merger. The stringer reporter at the Pea Ridge/Farmington game last Friday let us know that it would be the last game for him because the daily newspapers will no longer use stringers in the new streamlined newspapers that will emerge from thislatest reorganization.

For those who don’t know, a stringer is a writer who freelances for newspapers, getting paid by the story thus allowing the newspaper sports section the luxury of better sports coverage without having to hire full-time or part-time employees with the costs that kind of employee entails. Quite a few persons have filled those roles in northwest Arkansas and their sudden job loss will most likely mean the end of their writing careers, at least in that venue. It maymean less sports coverage in the daily newspapers for small schools like Pea Ridge.

I have worked as a stringer myself off and on for the past 30 years.

Stringing for me started with the Arkansas Gazette in the 1970s covering Harding University football, and I have written for several weeklies and dailies since that time. For the past few years, whenever the Daily Record came up short with the manpower to cover Pea Ridge games, I filled in and reported and wrote some of those games for a stipend. In those instances, I had about 45 minutes after a game to have written and e-mailed a game report to meet deadlines.

Writing for weeklies is much less stressful as Ihave a couple of days to get the story together for the Wednesday edition. Of course, working for The TIMES here in Pea Ridge has great job security as I don’t get paid for what I do here, so the recent upheavals in the new business won’t have much effect here.

There have been those who have questioned why I put in so much time reporting sports when there is no pay involved. For that answer, you would have to understand the community spirit of the people who work for the Pea Ridge schools. Most all staff members here put in extra time and effort for things that they aren’t paid for for the sake of the kids who make up the student population. I have long believed that it is incumbent on usas teachers and employees to do what we can to make things better for our students in whatever ways that we can. For myself, since a weekly can’t afford a sports staff and since this kind of thing is something I can do, then I should do it.

One of the reasons that Pea Ridge is a school on the rise is the volunteer spirit of the teachers, staff and parents as well. The elementary-aged football program here is doing wonderful things with its parent volunteers, and the YCB basketball program has had a major impact here with all its adult volunteers spearheading the thousands of hours spent in its administration.

I could go on and on about volunteerism here locally but I think you get thepicture. Now by the way, in case you don’t subscribe to The Times, maybe that is something you might think about doing. To have a newspaper, especially a local one, is a treasure we all need to hang on to.

Kudos to the elementary football teams

This has been one bang up year for the elementary football teams as they have compiled the best won-loss record ever for Pea Ridge.

This will pay dividends in the future as head high school football coach Tony Travis has been monitoring the progress of the Little ’Hawks. Coach Travis is excited about what he has been seeing with the talent and enthusiasm on display.

Great things may well be in store for Pea Ridge football fans in the future.

Sports, Pages 8 on 11/04/2009

Print Headline: Ridger Sports Volunteer spirit strong in sports community

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