FOUR QUESTIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH… TIM STEVENS
Tim Stevens has had a stellar career as one of the outstanding high school sports writers in the state. A graduate of Garner High School, North Carolina Wesleyan and Campbell University, Stevens has written either for the Raleigh Times and then the Raleigh News and Observer since 1967 and has won a number of awards for his coverage. He is a member of both the National High School Hall of Fame and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Tim will be retiring at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, after the spring championships have ended, and he reflects on a fabulous career.
What emotions would you say you are feeling as you prepare for retirement from your active role with the Raleigh News and Observer? You’ve had told us that you’ve been working since the age of 15, in some form or fashion, in this field.
It is a great unknown. It hit me that for the first time since I was 15 no one will care what I have to say. I've never had another job. I hope I'm doing the right thing. There are some other things that I want to do and it seems like the right time to start doing them. Physically, I can't do the job as well as it needs to be done. I need something a little less stressful.
What is one of the enduring memories you have from your involvement in high school athletics?
The people. I always believed that I worked for the boys and girls and that the newspaper paid me. I tried to write what I would have wanted written about my child. I always tell people that the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NCAA championship, none of those things have a big impact on my life. But the things that are taught in high school and through high school athletics have a tremendous impact on my life. High school athletics remain the most important level of competition in our country. It is the only level of athletic competition that is designed to produce better citizens for a democracy. People need to understand that high school sports aren't just fun and games and giving the kids somewhere to go. One of the best trends in recent years is coaches' continuing education, which emphasizes that athletics is an extension of the classroom.
How have you seen the field of journalism and covering sports change during your career, which obviously includes some major shifts in technology which have affected the industry?
There has never been more information available. Figuring conference standings used to take hours. Now, they are available at several places. Getting scoring averages or statistics was an all-day job. I used to read eight newspapers a day to keep up with things. Now, I get that information much easier. Information is sent out immediately on social media.
But it may be harder for people to know what is important, what is meaningful, what needs further exploration, and especially what need more thought. One of the great challenges in the media is to help people gain insight and for the media to have credibility. Some places throw up every rumor and when one item actually turns out to be true, boast about getting it first. Getting it right used to be paramount. So did being an impartial observer. People seem to seek information that is slanted in the way that they want it slanted.
As you transition into a new phase of your life, what are you most looking forward to being able to spend time on that you couldn’t before?
I enjoy history and I enjoy story telling. I also enjoy the theater. I've written several plays and produced them and hope to do more of that. I just finished a run of War At Your Door, a play I wrote about events of April 12, 1865, the day before Raleigh surrendered at the end of the Civil War. The play was well received. It was historically correct and hopefully I told this story and entertained people at the same time.
I produced a big event for Memorial Day last year and I'm doing another Salute to the Troops this year. I'm doing a week-long tour in about four states this summer with a Christian production that I wrote. I founded Show 'N Tell Ministries, which tells people about Jesus through the arts. I hope to have more time for my ministry. But I know I will miss high school athletics terribly. I hope my successor believes that he works for the boys and girls and is paid by the newspaper.