Full schedules & scores
Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk drives past Southern Utah’s Dwayne Morgan in a men’s Big Sky Tournament semifinal game held at the Reno Events Center on Friday, March 9, 2018 in Reno, Nevada. Spokesman-Review staff reporter Jim Allen has spent the week in Reno covering our four local Big Sky teams and we hired a photographer to provide photos of the action. (Tom R. Smedes / Tom R. Smedes)

Ralph Walter: ‘We’ll always try our best’ to tell your stories

The letter arrived in early February, a beautifully, hand-written note sent by a longtime reader.

In fact, I have it hanging on my office wall.

“You should be ashamed to call yourself a sports editor.”

Oh, I am, but it’s like No. 15 on the list – but that’s a conversation for another time.

Because today I want to address not only the concerns of the reader above (outraged by our lack of horse racing stories), but also several other folks who have reached out recently regarding our daily sports coverage.

Believe me, we hear you:

The young men at Gonzaga get way too much coverage.

We can’t get enough Gonzaga basketball! Thanks!

The Gonzaga women fill the Kennel nearly as full as the men every single game. They work just as hard as the men and deserve more credit because there’s no NBA in their future.

Can we please have a little more Pac-12 basketball?

Wow! Whitworth (gets) the normal snub.

I sure miss the days when we received a massive amount of articles for the State B tourney.

Get real and put national news first.

So little on (Lewis and Clark) basketball? Obviously, it’s your Gonzaga bias.

How about more coverage of all sports like the old days – tennis, bowling, skiing, horse events, bike races?

I find myself regularly frustrated by little or no coverage of my teams compared to long pieces about teams for which I have little interest.

Where’s mixed-martial arts? C’mon, guy!

I’m guessing there’s more than a few motorsports fans in the Northwest.

Your paper has always lacked good hockey coverage.

Do a better job of covering WSU and Pac-12 women’s basketball.

Wow! EWU basketball made page 12 of the sports section!

All excellent points. But questioning my loyalty to Eastern Washington, my beloved alma mater? Really?

Look, we’d love to do more with the Gonzaga women. And the Spokane Chiefs. And high schools. Seriously, I wish we could cover it all: drill teams. SYSA soccer. Ballet (my daughter might like that, too).

The fact that everybody, it seems, is disappointed at once suggests that we’re probably making correct, albeit painful, decisions. After all, we are limited in our resources and our print space.

Note: This seems as good a time as any to reveal that our sports section has again earned national honors. At the recently judged Associated Press Sports Editors contest, the S-R earned honorable mentions for our daily section, our Sunday section and our website. In addition, columnist John Blanchette earned a Top 10 for his always stellar work, and our football season preview that ranked the area’s all-time top quarterbacks also earned a Top-10 award.

Pretty good stuff considering our sports section “smells like Wet Dog Fur.” That was in a letter to the sports editor more than three decades ago.

It still seems poignant today. Sadly, we can’t please everybody, no matter how hard we try. And I assure you, we’re trying.

We dedicated five reporters and two photographers to last weekend’s State 2B and 1B tournaments. We sent four reporters and two photographers to Las Vegas to cover the West Coast Conference basketball tournaments. We have a reporter in Reno covering the Big Sky basketball tournaments.

In the last two weeks alone, we’ve hired multiple correspondents and photographers from across four states to cover an array of out-of-town stories, from gymnastics to wrestling to basketball.

For many, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. And I can appreciate that more than anybody.

As a kid, I remember burying my head in the sports section with my bowl of Lucky Charms, absorbing every boxscore and always ending up disappointed that I couldn’t find anything more than just a passing mention of my Boston Celtics.

If the paper printed everything everyone wanted, it would be the size of a phonebook. Well, a phonebook from the 1990s.

My own nephew, a former state wrestling champion who has worked part time in the sports department since before I became sports editor, was so distraught by our seeming lack of coverage of this year’s Mat Classic, I swore I overheard him from my office telling co-workers what a moron I was. (My own nephew!)

In a perfect world, I would have dispatched two reporters to state wrestling. Just as I would have had a dedicated reporter covering the juggernaut that is Whitworth basketball.

And Lewis and Clark boys basketball? Of course we wanted to write more. But we have a strict 11 p.m. deadline and LC’s first two State 4A games this year started after 9 p.m. The fact we got anything in the paper was a miracle in itself. (As for my Gonzaga Prep bias, my daughter will be a freshman at LC in the fall.)

Do we overdo Gonzaga basketball? Absolutely. But in the words of my boss, I can mathematically prove it’s the right call. Our analytics show Gonzaga stories routinely draw many more readers, usually by a margin approaching 10-to-1. In the end, our goal is to please as many readers as we can.

But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about everyone else. We do. And more than ever, we need your help. Alert us to compelling stories in your schools, in your communities. Contrary to what you might think, we’ll always try our best to tell them.