Tuesday, February 23, 2010


If I spend too much time on this entry telling you about the tenuous future of newspapers, I would be wasting your time. You all know that newspaper circulation is down and young people aren't in the habit of turning pages between sips of morning coffee.

Since my salary comes from being a sports reporter, the viability of the industry is of great consequence to me. Thus, I will never stop trying to promote newspapers, whether it's on the deck of a sinking ship or not. If it is sinking, I'm too set in ways to do anything but go down with the ship.

Throughout my time in the business, I have always availed myself to youngsters showing an interest in our craft. It has turned up some interesting twists and turns that have helped the papers I've worked and assisted young people in shaping the foundation of their professional lives.

I like to tell the high school athletic directors I know to keep an eye out for talent -- a devoted interest in sports and a love for expression through writing. A number of years ago, former Rocky Hill High AD Brian Fell told me of such a young man. The discussion cleared a path for my learned colleague Ryan Pipke joining the fold, first as a part-timer, then as a full-time writer and now as assistant sports editor.

About the same time, I was asked by golf coach/student newspaper advisor Bob Francini to speak to a group of aspiring journalists at New Britain High. Among them was a sports-loving young man with a flair for said expression named Ryan Cote.

Cote eventually became a part-time writer for the Herald, a position he held for the most part to augment our comprehensive coverage of local high school football.He did a nice job but ultimately determined that a lifetime as a newspaper sports reporter was not what he wanted. He opted to get his teaching certificate and is teaching part time at his alma mater.

A segment of life came full-circle Tuesday morning when I made a presentation to HIS class. As always, I found some of the youngsters bright-eyed and interested while others doodled and gazed into space, but whether the seeds sprout remains to be seen. As always, I found the experience to be personally fulfilling because the youngsters keep me feeling as young as this tired old 57-year-old body allows.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I have nothing against the UConn men's basketball program. Ambivalence would be the best word to describe my level of interest in it.

But when the media covers each game like Under Armour apparel, I generally take a look.

I read with interest one account of how Jim Calhoun berated a state columnist. The columnist couldn't even get one-third of the question out of his mouth when the coach publicly ridiculed him. I could see if the question was inane, and as a person who has to conduct interviews often, sometimes our questions can be weak, but that wasn't the case here. It had the makings of a question that needed to be asked yet was never fully articulated.

I have a deep respect for Calhoun. Anybody who doesn't would be a fool. The man is a coaching genius and has done plenty to put Connecticut on the sports map, but he isn't so high and mighty that he should embarass (a word the coach used often in his postgame press conference after the 60-48 loss to Cincinnati) an esteemed journalist trying to do his job.

The Huskies lost? So what. Somebody loses every time a game is played. The coach's reaction was like that of a petulant teenager who had his I-phone taken away.

I truly believed after hearing of Calhoun's recent medical leave that he should leave the coaching ranks for reasons of self-preservation. I would like to see him enjoy his family and friends for a few years before his time here is through. Judging from the nature of the reports on Calhoun's recent malady, stress is at the roots. Stress is a killer, and if I were Jim, I wouldn't let the bastard win.

With his medical leave over, I thought Calhoun would tone down his act but I guess he can't. Perhaps raining verbal abuse on reporters and columnists is something that has gone on in UConn postgame circles for years. That I wouldn't know because I've never covered a UConn game and nor do I want to.

He reminds me of the grade-school bully who rules with an iron fist at the top of the heap until somebody, or in this case something, knocks him off. I revel in the body of his work but given the account of his postgame actions, that's where my respect ends.

The Huskies are having a bad season. Certain things didn't work out. Live with it, Coach Calhoun, and stop trying to slay the messenger. It's Valentine's Day, Jimmy. Can't you show a little love?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I had to pick up a few groceries Tuesday afternoon and found the Stop & Shop parking lot jammed.

Now I'm not one for watching weather reports. I figure why worry about something I can't control. If it's going to snow, I'll wear my galoshes. But small talk is a great conveyor of current events so it did dawn on me that there was a blizzard in the forecast.

I never could understand why a nor'easter sends people to the market to stock up like they're going to be snowbound for a month. When was the last time any of us spent more than a full day in the house because of a snowstorm? Inches fall, the plows come out, you shovel the drive and you're good to go the next day. I'd swear these meteorologists must get free groceries every time they mention snow.

Anyway, while I was checking out, I was checking out this divine little check-out girl named Jenni.

"Jenni," I said. "Whaddya think about all this snow talk?"

She said, "I hate snow. It's not going to snow."

"Okay, I'll remember that."

So it snowed, not the 10 to 16 inches that the weather reports stated but a mere dusting. The moral of the story is, if you want a better weather report, see your neighborhood check-out girl. She'll probably be closer to being right.