Local Sports Reporters Feeling Impact Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/03/30/local-sports-reporters-feeling-impact-of-coronavirus-pandemic/

If someone were to look at MaxPreps on Monday, March 30, he would see an eventful day planned for Massachusetts high school sports teams.

He would see games like Quincy High boys’ volleyball facing off against Barnstable at 4 p.m., Archbishop Williams boys’ lacrosse versus Rockland at 4 p.m., and Wareham High softball playing against Carver at 3:30 p.m., to name a few.

But none of those games are happening.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, spring teams in Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse, track & field, boys’ volleyball, sailing, and rugby will not start until Monday, May 4 – if then.

If they even occur, the sports seasons are expected to feature fewer games than usual:  12-game regular seasons in sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse, and boys’ volleyball that normally have 20-game regular seasons.

It’s a move that affects not only students, coaches, and athletic directors, but also media organizations and many full-time and freelance sports journalists throughout the state.

Nathan Rollins, a sports producer for WHDH 7News, who covers high school sports for the Whitman-Hanson Express on a freelance basis, is among those affected. Yet he says he is fortunate and that others have it far worse.

“The impact is enormous,” he told New Boston Post in an in-person interview. “I’ve seen people who are on the high school sports desk who are unable to work. A lot of them go to college. A lot of them are dependent on that money to pay bills in college. 

“For me, it’s something I do on the side, but it’s still money I don’t have coming in to stimulate the economy, to spend at a restaurant or at a store in my community,” he added. “That’s a hit to myself as well as the local businesses.”

By “desk shift,” Rollins is referring to part-time employees of The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, who answer the telephones in the sports department and write briefs based on the results of high school sports games for the high school roundup.

The Globe typically has a rotating team of about 30 desk shift workers, and the Herald typically has a rotating team of 15. Those part-time employees also cover games on a freelance basis for the newspapers in person. It’s a position Rollins held with The Boston Globe while a student at Emerson College, in addition to covering girls’ high school basketball for the paper.

For full-time sportswriters, the pandemic presents another challenge:  what is there to cover?

Duxbury Clipper sports editor Trevor Hass, who serves as the paper’s primary sports reporter, is doing his best to figure that out.

“Adjusting to life without sports hasn’t been easy as a sportswriter, but it has allowed me to branch out and take a different approach,” he told New Boston Post in a written message. “There may not be games at the moment, but there are still athletes with stories to be told. I think we can all agree life is better with sports, but for now, all we can do is make the most of the situation.”

Despite the pandemic, Hass still managed to write five stories for last week’s Clipper, including a feature on a state-title winning youth hockey team and an article on college athletes weighing in on their senior years of sports being cancelled, as well as a column about high school spring sports seasons being pushed back.

The pandemic also affects high school sports coverage on local radio and community access television.

Dominic Damiano is one of those people having to adapt. Damiano is the founder of 4Deep Sports Talk, a high school sports radio show that airs noon to 1 p.m. Sundays on AM 1320 WARA in Attleboro. He also livestreams and does play-by-play of high school sports events on 4Deep’s Facebook page. Additionally, Damiano does part-time play-by-play work with Brockton Community Access and AM 1530 WVBF in Taunton.

“I think for a lot of people, the impact is gonna hurt them in the pocket first and foremost because some of these guys can’t work,” he told New Boston Post in a telephone interview on Sunday, March 29. “I think it’ll hurt the athletes, too, because it throws off how they prepare for the season, coming into the season in-shape and being ready.”

Damiano said his show is airing reruns, for the time being, particularly episodes where he had on smaller schools that he says are often overlooked.
He also said he is using the time to improve the quality of his broadcasts when sports do return.

“I’m looking at things like where I stand with up-to-date gear for the company,” he said “I’ll check the software to see what I can do more efficiently. This is basically killing time because I’d probably be at a gym or something. It’s mostly things I wouldn’t have thought about, but now I do because there’s not really anything going on.”