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Times change, wrestling endures

 

By Reid Hanley
 
It became a 25-year ritual: getting started on my wrestling previews.
 
Almost 30 years ago to the day, I started getting gathering information for the Suburban Trib’s wrestling previews. We called them “outlookers” and they were nothing if not thorough.
 
For those of you who are too young to know what the Suburban Trib was or those who are too old to remember, I’ll try to explain. The “Little Trib” was an insert in the Chicago Tribune. It was independent of the Tribune with a separate staff and zoned editions. It came out three-to-six-times a week, depending on where you lived.
 
Prep sports were the meat of the paper, in my opinion. We had a big staff, numbering over 20 full-timers and a large staff of part-timers and stringers. We covered prep sports like they had never been covered before or since.
 
My task in November of 1978 was to cover more than 250 schools with wrestling teams. We were big on getting names in the paper. I can remember writing paragraphs on almost every team in our coverage areas. I always thought covering wrestling, especially the nuts and bolts, was one of the toughest things I’ve ever covered due to so many names, scores, records and weights.
 
For you youngsters, this was in the day of the typewriter. Make a mistake and you probably had to start over. Preview weeks were as tough as anything I experienced in 37 years in the business. Every waking hour that week was filled with wrestling. The result was as complete a preview as you could find.
 
Those days are gone with the typewriter. High school coverage of many sports has been trimmed to the minimum in the Chicago newspapers. Fewer and fewer names and teams were previewed in my last years covering the sport. Now, with the downturn in the newspaper business, it’s hard to find any high school wrestling stories.
 
The computer, especially the laptop, changed coverage of the sport. When I started we typed and then dictated. That was a pain for all. After the first state meet I covered I remember dictating stories on a cold, winter night from a motel lobby in Rantoul. With the computer, stories could be filed in a more timely manner and, with the new-fangled cell phone, from almost anywhere.
 
I’m not going to lie; part of me longs for the days of the Suburban Trib with all its coverage and space. I really think we spoiled people. In the latter days of my wrestling coverage career it was commonplace to have someone come up and lament about the demise of the Suburban Trib. Those days are gone and Suburban Trib-like coverage isn’t going to be found on the printed page.
 
But the future is bright. That computer, which made my coverage much easier and better, is the future of coverage of sports like high school wrestling. This website is going to give you more information than you can ever get in the newspaper. You’re going to get information and opinions on wrestlers, coaches, and competitions. God love my former employer, the Chicago Tribune, but you’re not going to get this kind of stuff from ink and paper.
 
Now this is a two-way street. One of the disheartening things I found the last few years was the dwindling numbers of coach’s questionnaires I received and the lack of scores called in to the paper. This may be a generality, but I’ve always thought self-promotion was a weakness in the wrestling community. Don’t be afraid to help your own cause.
 
 
My role here won’t be so much about takedowns and escapes. I’m going to give some opinions, write about some history and some of the people who make wrestling the sport we love.
 
This is going to be an exciting place to be. I’m glad to be here.
 


 

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