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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Time to move forward

By John George - Perham, MN

I guess the time for this column is probably overdue, as my lack of activity on has probably become pretty apparent to any regular visitors.  I have decided to “retire” from sports journalism, and am actively looking for someone to take over  I have been in contact with a few potential suitors, but if your interested, please e-mail me.

It hasn’t been an easy decision, and it isn’t one I’ve taken lightly.  But it’s the right thing for me to do at this point in my life.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll come back to it, or maybe I’ll stick around a bit to help out the next person (or people) who may want to run the site.

From the time I was in high school, I wanted to have a career in sports.  That has evolved over time, from wanting to be a high school basketball coach, to wanting to work for a professional sports team.  Both, things I was able to accomplish to some extent.

But in 1998, the fine folks at the Wright County Journal Press in Buffalo, MN, took a chance on me to be their sports editor.  In one way, shape, or form, sports journalism has been my primary source of income ever since.

And for most of that time, it was great.  I met some fantastic kids, some hard-working coaches, and great sports fans.  I’ve covered championship teams, and inspirational people. 

Some advice I was once given, and it’s probably something many of you have heard, in some form or another: If you do what you love, you won’t really work a day in your life.

I loved sports.  I lived sports.  But there is a downside. 

Going to games used to be a joy for me.  An outlet.  A delight.  I was getting paid to be at sporting events!  The kids.  The coaches.  The rivalries.  I loved it.

But it became a job.  I know….waa, waa. 

Games went from fun things I liked going to, to work functions I had to do.  And the job didn’t end when the game did.  On many nights, it was just the beginning.  Processing photos or videos, typing stats, trying to create a game narrative that didn’t sound like the 1,000 other basketball/football games I’d written about.  And then taking calls or e-mails from other coaches for reports of games I wasn’t able to get to, and rebooting the process.  Sometimes 3-4 times a night.

I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining.  I’m not.  For years, I thrived on it.  I loved it.  But it took a toll.  I began choosing big events to cover over going to family events.  I chose state tournaments or Friday night football games over card nights with the guys or hunting trips. 

To a certain extent, it cost me my marriage and some friendships.  And to some extent, it’s made me lose some of my love of sports.

In short, I’m burnt out.  And it’s time for a change.  I need to step back.

I could go on and on in detail about the ills of youth sports, the problem with helicopter parents, misguided kids and coaches with their priorities and expectations out of whack.  That’s not really who I am.  That may be who I’ve become, but it’s not who I am.

Who I really am, is someone who has a lot of respect to everyone willing to give their time and energy to kids and youth activities.  The majority of people I’ve seen and dealt with over the years have been fantastic, dedicated people.  Most of the coaches I’ve ever worked with have been great people.  There are those where I might not agree with their philosophy or style, but there haven’t been many where I questioned their dedication to their sport and their kids.

I’m someone who has tremendous respect for the types of kids who kinda know in the backs of their heads that they might never have that moment in the sun.  Not even have the opportunity to have that moment in the sun.  But they show up to every practice.  Every training session.  Every game.  They are there.  They make a team a team.  They are the ones who inspire me, every bit as much as the gifted kids who turn their abilities into semi-stardom, and college scholarships.

And I really respect the parents out there that buck the trend of over parenting.  Who understand that youth sports are for the kids.  Who understand fun comes before competition.  Who understand that the kids come before the adults.  Who understand fair play comes before creating stars.  Who understand over-traveling and year-round play doesn’t necessarily equate to success.

Those parents are few and far between.  To the ones who get it, I applaud you.

OK.  That’s a lot of rambling.  Here is the bottom line.  I really want to thank everyone who was part of my success as a sports journalist.  I hope you know who you are, because I don’t have the space to name you all here.  I want to thank the thousands of people who have visited my site, and I want to let you all know, that I tried my best to give you great local sports coverage.

In my years as a sports journalist, and with my work at PHS, I’ve been around a lot of young people.  I’d like to pass along a few pieces of advice as I part ways with my public forum…..

It’s OK if you don’t have life figured out yet.  You’ll probably be better off if you don’t have it figured out yet! 

It’s OK if your struggling finding the right friends or social circle.  It’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do for a life-long career, or what you want to major in.  Things change.  Attitudes and aspirations change.  People change.

All of that is OK. 

Trust me, I know.  Approaching 46, my life is starting over.  New career.  New relationships.  New start.

It’s time for me to take a new path.  Within the last several of months, I found a new career, and I’ve met some new, very special people, that have changed my perspective. 

What’s really important is enjoying the journey (something I’ve admittedly had trouble with, but am getting better at).  And show respect for the people and the things around you (something I think the young generation has a real problem with).

Respect.  That seems to be a running theme with my reflections. 

Respect your teachers and parents.  They mean well and are trying the best they can to help you become better people, whether you believe that or not. 

Respect your surroundings.  Leaving trash everywhere, breaking things that don’t belong to you.  I saw it on a daily basis at PHS.  It makes you look lazy, and it reflects on a bigger picture on who you really are as a person. 

Finally, respect the journey.  Don’t rush your lives.  Don’t pick a college major and a career as high school freshmen.  Don’t choose working too much over school activities and hanging out with friends.  You have your whole lives to work!  Don’t settle into a single sport or activity.  Explore your options, challenge yourselves, step out of your comfort zones!

That’s it.  I’m out.  I’ve enjoyed my time covering sports for everyone in the lakes area, and I hope you’ve appreciated my effort.  Thanks for being part of the journey.  If anyone is interested in being the new face of, please let me know.


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