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Pat Bigold

The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, September 21, 1999


Things go better
with competition

I woke up to the crack of a starter's gun, 20 stories below me, Saturday morning. Our residence is a high-rise overlooking the Iolani School athletic complex, and sound travels remarkably well upwards.

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years I hear every snap of the diving board, every splash, every whistle, every crash of shoulder pad against shoulder pad, every ping of a baseball against an aluminum bat, every call from the P.A. booth, and every note (mellow as well as sour) from the school band.

I don't mind. I never really did.

But it's not because I'm an extremely patient guy. I'd certainly complain about a dog barking incessantly, a loud party or a car alarm that won't stop.

But I just couldn't get upset about the starter's gun or the cheering that followed it.

As I cleared the cobwebs from my head to think about the day ahead, it occurred to me why.

It's because the noise I heard was the noise of competition .

THE concept of competition had been on my mind since I learned we would go out of business on Oct. 30.

The competition that woke me up was making the young people engaging in it better. Couldn't get annoyed with that.

The competition between the two dailies in this city has made them better products.

Competition.

Things go better with it.

I wonder how many homers Sammy Sosa would be hitting this year without Mark McGwire on his tail.

Or how many would McGwire have hit last year without Sosa pursuing his lead?

How fast would Maurice Greene run the 100 if he had to do it on his own?

Would Michael Jordan have ever taken flight if nobody challenged him en route to the basket?

What do you think the average speed would be at the Indy 500 if no one ever pushed the pace?

I can identify with the competitive drive.

Any newspaper reporter can, even if he doesn't look or feel like an athlete.

I'VE spent my last 21 years working at daily newspapers and turning out the best work I can for one reason: to beat the competition.

My best has often not been good enough, but I sure loved having a reason to try every day.

Whether I won or lost the battle to break a story, the readers won.

The competition forced both me and the reporter trying to beat me to work harder, to get better.

When I was at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune in Massachusetts, we looked over our shoulders at the other suburban dailies whose circulation crossed into our territory.

When I edited and wrote for U.S. Army post papers here in the 1970s, I thrived on seeing what I could do to go one better on the Navy, Air Force and Marine publications every week.

For the last 16 years at the Star-Bulletin, my daily adrenaline rush has come from trying to beat the Advertiser.

There are more talented people than me on this newspaper's staff , and they have put a lot more competitive pressure on the Advertiser than I have.

But the competition generated by even the least of us has reminded our readership there's no "correct" way of viewing anything. No single publication has the last word on any subject.

Not even a ball game.

I've loved competing with the Advertiser. And I know that on Monday, Nov. 1, when that other team has taken the field, I'm going to wonder why I can't be out there.



Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.



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