SHEPHERDSVILLE – Here it is. I have the perfect forum.
All those Christmas columns that Mike Farner would write and I would somehow be the butt of the jokes.
(Normally, you wouldn’t have the courage to pick on your boss in print for the world to see but I guess that is the type relationship we have.)
With that in mind, do I take advantage of using a great honor and have some fun at Mike’s expense while he's on vacation?
Tough call but I think a do a little praising and maybe a little jabbing.
On April 12, Mike, along with 18 other deserving individuals, was inducted into the Bullitt Central High School Hall of Fame.
This is the second year of inductions.
Mike was among friends – of course, several coaches and players were also inducted so I won’t try to express their feelings – so there were no boos during his induction.
A 1979 graduate of Bullitt Central, Mike got his start with The Pioneer News while a student. He believes it has been 35 years of service to The Pioneer News and no one has been here long enough to dispute it.
I think he also holds the record for working under the greatest number of owners – which might be five or six at last count.
Mike, along with his father, Bill, have been fixtures around the Bullitt Central football program since they arrived in the county.
They were both honored as grand marshals of last fall’s homecoming parade.
Being a graduate of a local high school and then writing about them in the community newspaper has its advantages and its disadvantages.
And when you are writing about sports, the readers are very passionate.
So, to say that Mike was the most favorite staff writer on The Pioneer News over my 29 years would be a lie.
In fact, in my first year, I spent time covering Bullitt East football and picked up a few extra coins. It seems that not only have we been together at the paper for the past 29 years, we seem to look alike.
Well, thanks Bullitt East fans for the coins. They came in handy, especially in the early days just out of college.
The joys of any newspaper job can be plentiful. As a sports reporter, covering winning teams is wonderful. Covering a struggling team is not.
Mike has had the pleasure of covering various sports at each of the three high schools. He has also seen each of the three schools have some programs that have suffered.
Luckily for Mike, he has a boss whose goal out of college was to become a sports writer. I attended Eastern Kentucky University when it was THE football program in the state.
I took those coaching classes from Roy Kidd and Max Good – to further my knowledge of the game and to help my GPA.
So, when Mike told me his schedule when I moved to The Pioneer News (you notice he told me what his schedule would be), I knew I would still get to keep my nose in the sports business.
In fact, with Mike’s real love of collecting and selling model trains taking him away many weekends, I got to do more sports than I ever imagined. Or that my family imagined.
It has all worked out (well, at least for some of us) and we now have a Hall of Fame staff member.
I joke that Mike could write a book on how to be the most efficient and most productive employee in the least amount of time in the office. He holds a patent on that.
But the pages are always filled (with occasional help from yours truly).
At the community newspaper level, it is a different ball game.
We have to carry the camera and keep play-by-play stats. There are no official stats at the end of the game, although some schools do help us tremendously.
If there is a county football game, it gets covered. If there is a big basketball game, it is in the newspaper. If it is a non-revenue sport, it is a challenge.
With three high schools and an ever-growing number of KHSAA-sanctioned sports, it is a major challenge to get it all covered.
Would I like us to do more feature stories and more coverage of every sport? You betcha.
Is it possible? Not likely.
Even throwing me into the sports mix on occasion, it has become impossible to cover every school in every sport. Decisions are made on how to cover the various sports. Each has a different character.
Some of my most fun is poking fun at Mike for not working. In reality, the sports job is not an easy one.
You try standing up for three hours while juggling a camera and a clipboard and maybe dealing with rain.
Or being outside for the entire day in 100-degree heat at a state track meet.
The years begin to take their toll and the recovery time is a little longer.
You have passionate fans who all believe you favor the other two schools.
You have fans who are not afraid to come up and tell you exactly what they think of their team, their team’s coach and even you.
You have passionate fans who grow frustrated when their teams don’t win.
And the cold truth is that teams that win get more publicity. Coaches who lose are not really happy to talk with the media.
As we move into an era of getting our high school students ready for college or for a career, journalism is not something you do for the fun of it.
Mike and I have been through a whole lot over the past three decades.
Working 35 years in any business operation should be commended. Being named to your high school Hall of Fame should also be a proud moment.
He will be able to sit back and realize that it is a great honor to be inducted into his school’s Hall of Fame – when he retires in another 20-25 years.
So as Mike is returning back from yet another vacation, kudos to my officemate – the man who wore my white hat in his column picture so many years ago.
Congratulations on your inclusion in the Hall of Fame and thanks to Bullitt Central for making an excellent selection.
Now it’s time to get back to work.