Want to know what I think?

Another deadline has passed. Another football game has been covered. Another story has been written.

It's time to reflect, time to ask, "Why do I do this?"

Thirty six years ago I first covered a Friday night football game for a daily newspaper.  Since that debut, which was a Centennial High School game, I've missed exactly one Friday of coverage in the months of September and October, one 1984 night when I was so sick with the flu I could hardly move.

That translates into 36 years of being loyal to the job, and at the same time away from my understanding family. I realize that's nothing exceptional. It's what is expected from people dedicated to their jobs. I'm there to document team and individual successes and unfortunately, sometimes, team and individual heartaches.

Yes, for every winner, there has to be a loser. Fact of life.

It's easy to keep going and moving from one assignment to the next with anticipation when you know the folks involved -- whether they agree with everything that is written -- at least appreciate and respect the effort to get it written and provide some coverage and recognition. When nights like this particular one arrive, when the coach of the losing home team decides he just won't talk to a reporter who waited in the rain 30 minutes before his deadline for a comment, it's again time to reflect, "Why do I do this?"

I have accumulated a few sick days, since I last took one in 1984, maybe I should have spent the evening with my ailing father and my wife. Maybe a trip to Rantoul just wasn't that important in the grand scheme of things. The outcome would have been the same, regardless of whether I was at Bill Walsh Field. But you know what? That thought didn't enter my mind.

Just like it didn't enter my mind in 2010 when Rantoul upset Mahomet-Seymour on the Bulldogs' homecoming that the M-S staff wouldn't talk. Of course they did. It was a game, but also one where a message can be sent to the student-athletes in the school and the residents of the community. Win with grace and class, lose with grace and class. You can't ignore a defeat by not talking about it. That doesn't make it go away. All it does is cheat and rob the student-athletes from your team the opportunity for recognition.

I guarantee that even in Rantoul's 60-18 loss Friday night, there were Eagles whose play deserved to be noted. Fortunately, the Mahomet-Seymour coach talked about some of them.

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