On my drive to work a few days ago, I listened to a podcast episode in which the co-founder of WeWork explained the rise of the shared workspace company valued at nearly $16 billion.
Near the end of the interview, he talked about what he sees as the company’s “primary reason for existing.” And that got me thinking, what should be the primary reason The Times sports department exists?
In one way or another, it’s a question I’ve been pondering since I interviewed for the sports editor job at The Times in the spring.
There are some things that a sports department absolutely must do — accurately report the results of local teams and the accomplishments of local athletes are among them — but I don’t think that’s enough. That alone, shouldn’t be the primary reason for a sports department’s existence.
Sports can illuminate important issues in society, and the history of the Region is rich with such examples. As many of you probably know, two members of the 1965-66 Texas Western men’s basketball team — the first team to win an NCAA basketball national championship with an all-black starting lineup — were from Gary.
My goal is for The Times sports department to tell stories that matter, stories that make a difference and stories that move people.
And I feel very fortunate that the two newest additions to The Times’ sports department — Lake County reporter James Boyd and Porter/LaPorte counties reporter Robbie Weinstein — have a similar vision. And their approach has been reflected in their first two weeks in Northwest Indiana.
Boyd, a recent Illinois graduate, wrote a story in Friday’s paper about a football game earlier this season in which a Confederate flag and “Make America Great Again” apparel were in the stands when Lowell played host to Morton, a school with a large minority population.
Boyd interviewed coaches from Lowell and Morton, plus Lowell’s superintendent and an attorney who made the case that Lowell’s administration didn’t violate anyone’s First Amendment rights when they asked the students to remove the apparel supporting President Donald Trump.
Boyd wrote that Morton coach Sean “Kinsey thinks that what transpired goes beyond a football game and is emblematic of bigger racial and political issues that are present not only in Lowell, but also the entire country.”
In other words, it was just the sort of story I feel is important The Times sports department write.
While Boyd was busy working on that story, Weinstein has written multiple stories about West Side’s decision not to bring back Rod Fisher for a 36th season as the girls basketball coach.
Weinstein, who recently earned his master’s from Northwestern, went to great lengths during the reporting process. He spoke with West Side principal Marcus Muhammad in an attempt to learn why Fisher was not retained and later was in communication with Courtney Schaafsma, the executive director of the Indiana Distressed Units Appeal Board, about a petition to reinstate Fisher.
Both interviews revealed new information about a complicated story that seems to still be unfolding.
While Boyd and Weinstein have impressed me from the moment I met them, they are still new to the Region and could use your help. If you see either one of them at a game, please introduce yourself.
If you have a story idea, please tell them or email MUNSports@lee.net. Readers often alert us to the best stories. It doesn’t have to be a weighty topic, or even about high school sports. Have a neighbor who has overcome obstacles or is someone in your spin class doing something inspiring? Please let us know about it. We’re interested in athletes of all ages and abilities.
We are also interested in your feedback, good or bad. We know we are new to the area and have room to improve. Once again MUNSports@lee.net is the best way to get in touch.
In case you were wondering, Miguel McKelvey, the co-founder of WeWork, said his company, “is trying to help other people succeed.” Before starting WeWork, McKelvey played college basketball at Oregon. In 14 games over two seasons he averaged 0.3 points, 0.1 rebounds and 0.1 assists per game.
If McKelvey had ties to Northwest Indiana, he would be just the type of player I would want Boyd or Weinstein to write about.