Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Farewell to Sideline Smitty...

In the world of local sports journalism, today is a sad day, as long time Seattle Times sports reporter and columnist Craig Smith (left/photo courtesy Seattle Times) announced that he is taking a buyout from the paper and leaving the Times at the end of the year.

Even though the Times assigned him during his career to beats as varied as the Seattle Seahawks and Washington State University football, he always had a special place for high school sports.

Craig was one of the main reporters that covered the high school, college and pro career of high jumper Rick Noji in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a stalwart in the Times' coverage of the state high school track & cross country championships over the years, in addition to covering all of the other sports.

In the late 1980s, Craig actually wrote an article criticizing University of Washington track coach Ken Shannon and the team, stating that the Huskies were constant doormats in the Pac-10, because of Shannon's reluctance to invest scholarship dollars and competitive opportunities for non-throwing athletes. While Shannon was upset at Smith's charges in the article, Smith brought to light points that were known in the local track community.

As a measure of respect for what he did for the local track & field community, the Pacific Northwest Association of USA Track & Field even gave Craig an award for his service and coverage of the sport.

Even in his final months at the Times, I had the opportunity to watch and talk to Craig at three high school cross country meets this fall, as he asked me what I knew about Redmond's eventual state 4A champion Mack Young, along with questions about why cross country was such a popular sport among high school kids.

Here's a link to Craig's final "Sideline Smitty" column in Tuesday's edition of the Seattle Times.

Craig, you will be sorely missed. Best of luck to you in whatever you decide to do--hopefully, you'll blog some of your thoughts in cyberspace!

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