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Column: Enterprise has always covered more than Park Rapids sports

Vance Carlson

Recently a subscriber to the Enterprise asked me, "Why do you cover Nevis and Menahga sports? They have their own papers. This is the Park Rapids Enterprise. It's not the Park Rapids, Menahga and Nevis Enterprise."

Fair question. The answer is that the Enterprise has always covered more than just Park Rapids sports.

I've been the sports editor at the Enterprise for the past 30 years. During that time, I've always covered Park Rapids, Menahga and Nevis sports. It was the same when Mike Gravdahl was the sports editor for the 17 years prior to 1987.

Our emphasis, then and now, continues to be on Park Rapids athletics. The vast majority of sports news is about Park Rapids.

Since we have subscribers and advertisers from Menahga and Nevis, we've always thought it fair that we give those two schools sports coverage as well. Not only is it fair, at times, it's a necessity.

Take for instance the Nov. 8 edition of the Enterprise. Most of the Park Rapids fall sports seasons were over. The Panthers had only one sports event for that Saturday paper: The Section 8AA championship volleyball match. While that was an important contest, it would be impossible to fill three pages of sports with only one event.

Menahga and Nevis also had significant sporting events that week. The United North Central girls cross-country team and Nevis' Jade Rypkema competed at the state Class A meet, while Nevis defeated Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal for the Section 6 9-man football title to earn a trip to the state playoffs. Those were two local events worthy of sports coverage and of interest to several of our Park Rapids readers.

That is often the case. Despite having a variety of sports in the fall, winter and spring seasons, there are days when none of the Park Rapids sports teams has a contest at home or an event at all. There have been numerous times when there were no Park Rapids sporting events at home and only one or two Park Rapids sporting events were scheduled out of town on a Monday or Tuesday. In those instances, it's necessary to go to a game at Menahga or Nevis to get photos and stories to fill the sports pages for Saturday's edition.

Some Park Rapids subscribers say that covering those two other schools takes away from putting our Park Rapids athletes on the sports pages. In truth, Park Rapids sports still receive at least 75 percent of the coverage space in the Enterprise.

I went back over the last 12 months of the Enterprise and counted the sports photos that appeared in the paper for all three schools: Park Rapids had 411 photos, Nevis had 73 photos and Menahga had 65 photos. Some of those photos were duplicated when Park Rapids, Nevis and Menahga athletes were in the same photo. Every Park Rapids sports team had at least 14 photos in the paper. Some Menahga and Nevis sports teams didn't have any athletes in the paper.

Park Rapids sports stories were also longer and the main story the vast majority of the time. Park Rapids had the main sports story 76 times. Nevis was the featured story four times and Menahga was the featured story three times.

Games between Park Rapids and Nevis and Park Rapids and Menahga were the main story in three editions each, while a Menahga vs. Nevis game was the main story once.

I try to get as many different athletes in the paper as possible, but sometimes that is difficult. We don't layout the newspaper here in Park Rapids anymore. Since August 2016, we've been sending all our stories and photos to production teams within the Forum Communications Company. We suggest story and photo placement, but we don't get to see the paper until you do. In almost every edition, there are sports photos I've wanted to go with my stories that have been left out of the paper.

As any other Park Rapids business, we value our loyal Park Rapids customers. We also value our loyal customers from Menahga and Nevis, who rely on the Enterprise for sports coverage of their teams as well as news about school board and city council meetings and community events.

Over the last 30 years, I've rarely missed a Park Rapids sporting event at home. There are times when three or four home events are scheduled on the same night, so I might have to miss one or two of them. But the majority of the time, I'm at every home event. When there isn't a home game to cover, I'll travel the short distance to Menahga or Nevis.

Covering the Park Rapids Panthers has been a blast for the last 30 years. I'm counting on many more years of covering the Panthers as well as the Menahga Braves and Nevis Tigers.