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STOVALL: Football may be king but other sports need love too
Sunday Sound Off
Gabriel Stovall

Seems like I’ve been saying, ‘Thank you’ a ton lately, but lately The Covington News’ sports department has had a lot to be grateful for. 

If you subscribe to our paper, or went to a newsstand or somewhere else to pick one up, you’ve probably already received a copy of our 2018 Newton County Football Preview magazine. 

It’s nice, isn’t it? Well, we have plenty of folks to thank for that, many of whom have already been thanked in my magazine column. But to that list I want to add our sales staff, Cynthia Blackshear-Warren, Susan Grajko and Sydney Chacon (who also takes awesome photos for us whenever I need her to). 

Without their efforts selling ads and convincing businesses that our product is worthy of an investment of their dollars, we wouldn’t have had a magazine to be thankful for. 

We hope you’re enjoying what you see. We went through many pains to make it happen, but it was, indeed, a labor of love. 

Make sure you check out the digital version of our preview on our website, There, we were able to go a little bit deeper in some of our analysis, and also over the weekend and early part of next week, we’ll be adding some more middle school features to the website before their season kicks of Wednesday. 

Inevitably I’ll get asked the question, ‘How come other sports like soccer or softball or volleyball or even basketball don’t get this same amount of attention?’ 

It’s a worthy question, as it causes me and others like me who do love football to remember that while the pigskin may be considered king of sports around here for many, there are tons more athletes in dozens of other sports who draw thousands of fans their way. 

Even locally, we realize that there are some who would rather watch a soccer match than a football game. Or some who say, ‘Hey. Forget football. Newton County and Covington has been, and always will be, basketball territory.’ And I want you all to know that I truly get that and understand. 

Every day I, along with our sports staff, am thinking of ways to not just cover our local sports scene comprehensively, but also excellently. We’re thinking of how we can push back the boundaries that many smaller papers similar to ours use to box themselves in. 

Although putting out 60-page magazines is harder work than many of you probably realize, I’d love to have the ability to publish special publications for all our sports. And I’m constantly trying to brainstorm ways to give our other sports more visibility.

But that does cost money and requires businesses and other donors/investors to buy in to the concept we’d like to sell. It also has to make sense from a demand standpoint.

For whatever reason, football has always been that one concept that everyone wants to get behind, both with their interest and game attendance, as well as their dollars. And it’s pretty much that way everywhere I’ve been and with every other sports journalist I know. 

But I do see the rise in popularity of sports like soccer. 

Even baseball here locally is pretty popular. And fool around and let Eastside get back to Columbus and bring home a state championship in the next year or two, and softball’s draw — the sport I, and others including my softball-coaching wife say is the football of women’s sports — will shoot through the roof, especially with the way middle school softball talent is burgeoning around here.

So the long and short of it is this: Don’t think, at least not with me and us here at The Covington News, that we consider one sport to be better than or more important than another. We simply try our best to respond to the desires for coverage that come from our readership. 

Am I excited for football? Absolutely. But I’m also stoked about seeing how Alcovy and Newton’s softball programs climb with two new energetic and knowledgeable coaches. 

I can’t wait to see if Social Circle wrestling can make it five straight state crowns in a row. I’m seriously counting the days to when we can start talking about basketball again, analyzing what life after Ashton Hagans will be like for Newton boys basketball, or what the almost-state champion Lady Rams will do this year for an encore. 

And then, of course, I’m hoping to book another trip to Columbus for Eastside softball, and watching how coach Brandon Crumbley will take the Eagles’ baseball program to higher heights promises to be intriguing. 

As we cover all our teams and athletes to the best of our ability, I promise we’ll also look for ways to keep bringing a similar intensity and the same high quality of shine to other sports as we do to football. 

Of course, as always, if you’ve got ideas, I’m all ears.

Gabriel Stovall is the sports editor of The Covington News. He can be reached for tips and story ideas at Follow him on Twitter: @GabrielStovall1.