We try, in everything we do, to let local flavor shine through in our coverage. That means we strive to tell stories on our sports page that are unique to Hannibal and the surrounding area.

On Monday, local athletes hit the track, the field or the court for the first official practices of the fall sports season. It seems like just yesterday, we wrapped up coverage of the spring season.

With the school year fast approaching on the horizon, at the Courier-Post, we’re thinking ahead on how to cover the athletes in our area. Hannibal enjoys a fairly rich local sports scene. From HLGU and the Hannibal Falcons to mud volleyball and fishing tournaments at Mark Twain Lake, even the Cavemen — who might still occupy Clemens Field in 2018: there’s a lot of local sports action. But the true hallmark of our sports coverage is the legacy of the Hannibal Pirates, as well as other schools in our area.

Beginning in the spring 2017, we intensified our local sports content by providing much expanded coverage of Monroe City sports and, for the first time, including Marion County R-II athletics in our routine coverage that also includes Palmyra, Mark Twain and area middle schools.

I’ll admit, aside from the opinion page, the sports pages can be some of the toughest to strike a friendly balance. Sports can be a niche interest — some people could care less about football and only want coverage of tennis. We are still in St. Louis Cardinals country, so readers range from casual Redbirds fans to obsessive diehards. Still others want to see photos of their children and grandchildren play middle school basketball.

And let’s face it, there are only so many Courier-Post employees, so many hours in the day and so much space in print to try to cast a wide net to capture everyone’s particular interests.

First and foremost, we are a local paper.

We try, in everything we do, to let local flavor shine through in our coverage. That means we strive to tell stories on our sports page that are unique to Hannibal and the surrounding area. I know that might not please everyone. Some people have called to specifically complain that our sports pages are “too local.”

For a small-town newspaper, I don’t think there’s such a thing as “too local.” If you look at the sports pages as a tiered system, we give precedence to local athletes because there are few outlets that give them that chance to shine. From there, we place the next highest emphasis on state (MU) and regional (Cardinals, Blues, Gems) athletics. Then comes the national coverage.

Last year, we began running a daily baseball page to capture MLB content. (That page returns with today’s issue — we had to omit that content to accommodate temporary earlier deadlines.)

As we continue to evaluate how we spend our time, it’s possible the sports section may be expanded.

I know many people only care about what the superstars are doing. They want to read about LeBron, Serena, or Tiger.

But consider this: In Hannibal families, and in the homes we try to serve every day, every athlete, from the high school benchwarmer to the middle schooler just starting out, is a superstar.