BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
On Friday, the Fort Madison High School inducted four well-deserving men into the Bloodhound Hall of Fame.
Dick Burch, Jim Allen and Jay Skinner were brought into the Hall for their contributions to the athletic programs on what we call in the news business a first-person level.
Burch and Skinner talked about how grateful they were for the recognition. Allen wasn’t in attendance at the ceremony. Burch deflected and said it was more of a testament to the athletes, but he was humbled by the designation.
The most interesting comment may have come from Fort Madison Daily Democrat Sports Editor Chris Faulkner, a 38-year veteran reporter who’s followed students, their parents, and, in some cases, maybe even a grandparent or two who played sports at area high schools, in this case Fort Madison.
“I didn’t think I could get in, but this is a dream of mine.”–Chris Faulkner, Hall of Fame Inductee
Faulkner is in two other state Halls for coverage of prep basketball and baseball, but thought the FMHS nominations required attending or working at the school.
As a not-as-seasoned reporter myself, I found it very endearing that this man who’s been the main chronicler of Fort Madison High School sports for nearly four decades – didn’t think he was acceptable.
I’ve known Chris for about half his time at the Democrat and knew about him before that. Oh…I was indirectly his boss for a year or so. I say that only because I can recall many conversations with him about happenings in Fort Madison…only about half of which were sports.
I watch Chris work at sports events, not just at FMHS, but also at Holy Trinity, Central Lee, and all the places these great programs take us every season. I sometimes rely on him for background on past coaches, players, even officials. There’s very few that have the walking knowledge that he has about not just sports, but Fort Madison in general.
He can start up a conversation with anyone, literally, anyone, because he either knows them, their parents, a brother, a sister, aunt, uncle, or neighbor. He works his way through a crowd as though he’s running for office. Occasionally he can be caught, maybe rooting?….for the Bloodhounds and Crusaders.
Journalism 101 tells us to remain objective at every corner…when possible. But sports is a different animal. In covering sports for the past two years myself, you tend to take ownership. These are our athletes, too. We want the best for them. Chris has seen the best in them, and the worst, and has spent many, many years chasing those stories…capturing images…and filling in the gaps.
For the first time ever in my life, I saw, and continue to see, students chant Chris’ name as part of their in-game cheering. The first time I heard this, I was perplexed. What? Cheering for the reporter. I’m not naive, people have their favorite reporters. I put Bob Costas in my column, Chris Berman, people who have given much of their lives filling in the gaps of my sports world.
The second time I heard “Chriiiis Faulkner…clap..clap…clap,clap,clap” I realized even these young students realized the important role he played in telling their story.
I smile now when I hear that cheer. So does he….and that’s really the great part.
Congratulations, Chris. Not only were you qualified for the award, you were, and are, deserving.
Oh…and sometimes he gets free popcorn. I pay… and then share with him…but that’s ok…and totally Beside the Point.