Published February 22, 2009
It's easy to look at our Kelly Pavlik coverage and think, "The Vindy is just about sports. Anything sports."
I'd ask you to pause for a minute from your iron-clad perceptions of The Vindicator. Step back and put on different filters, and listen to my thoughts.
I asked this of a nice lady two weeks ago at a luncheon where I was a guest speaker. She was another finger wagger when I met her at the start of the luncheon. "I don't like The Vindicator because ..."
I asked her to give me 30 minutes, and if she still felt the same, then fine. But 30 minutes turned into an hour, and afterward she came up to me. I changed her mind. A fan, I guess. She sees the "other Vindicator" that she has not wanted to see.
Before I explain Pavlik, Pavlik, Pavlik, trust me there was other news in The Vindy last week. An editor actually counted for a reader on Friday when the person called to complain about Pavlik, Pavlik, Pavlik. Our local news ratio was like 5-1 other news vs. Pavlik news.
That said, there was more Pavlik than heck, even Kelly wanted to see. And it was placed big.
But here's why: Pavlik is good news we all can get around in some way or form. It's good news that puts us on a national map. He's a good guy. He's a good face for Youngstown.
A perfect face? No. But a damn good one. There are 100+ cities above us in the various rankings of top cities. There's not a city -- not even the No. 1 city -- (Madison or Austin usually) that wouldn't take the Pavlik story as their hometown tale.
I'm tired of touting our crime, touting our politicians, touting our touting. I think it's vital to embrace something real and something positive. That it's a sports figure should not be measured over the reality of a positive story.
But too many of us choose to complain about Pavlik, Pavlik, Pavlik; to dismiss it; to minimize it. ("Oh, I saw him at this bar once ...")
I'm not about to complain, dismiss or minimize. I'm glad I have a handful of peers in the Valley who feel the same.
Here's an email I got Saturday:
For the past week I've had to read "Kelly Pavlik this and Kelly Pavlik that" mainly because you are the Vindicator Editor. About two weeks ago I saw you moderate a panel with Connie Shultz and Marilyn Geewax plus a Wall Street Journal reporter. I just wanted to say that 25 years ago I had just graduated from (college). (It was when) when "Boom Boom" Mancini was knocking out opponents left and right. I'll never forget the Duk Koo Kim fight. There I was, cheering on our home town boy, Boom Boom Mancini. We raised our fists in the air as Boom Boom landed 39 punches in a row in the 13th round. We clicked beers as Boom Boom won the fight by TKO 19 seconds into the 14th round.
But a few minutes later our beers tasted flat as we watched Duk Koo Kim carried out of the ring on a stretcher. Of course, Kim later died ... and we reconsidered our cheers, and what was worth fighting and cheering for, and what we thought was heroic.
A couple weeks ago as I watched you and your esteemed panel talk about Youngstown I sat between two real, honest to God heroes, not some boxing dimwit, but real life heroes. Yet, in all of that time, she's never had the (expletive) Vindicator publish her route downtown so she could be showered with adulation.
You wonder why we suffer here as a 19th century town trying to compete in a 21st century society. Nobody gives a (expletive) about how tough we are, or how many punches we can take. All they want to know is if we've grown out of our stupid hero worship of dumb sports heroes. What do you think the answer is?
There is a lot of that out there.
But there is also this out there:
Have wanted to email to express my appreciation of the PICX and local features of late. I have noticed a gradual difference in local reporting but what has prompted me to email is the Kelly Pavlik features. These have helped generate a hometown spirit and lightness of heart within myself as well as with an entire community. Well done Mr. Franko and also a thank you and well done to your staff.
"A lightness of the heart ..."
Somebody saw the something beyond the "sports hero worship."
I couldn't have said it better.