Midcoast residents, we're calling you out

Courier Publications/VillageSoup seeks weekly guests for Pigskin Pundits
By Mark Haskell | Aug 26, 2014
Courier Publications/VillageSoup football prognostigators, from left, Mark Haskell, Reade Brower and Ken Waltz.

Rockland — Here at Courier Publications/VillageSoup, easily our most popular weekly fall writeup for our three newspapers, as far as sports is concerned, is our Pigskin Pundits section, where myself, sports director Ken Waltz and owner/publisher Reade Brower attempt to pick the winners of the weekly slate of National Football League games, along with a weekly guest.

When Ken and I are out covering games throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln counties throughout the fall, and even into the winter, people always come up to us and chat about how we are doing in our weekly picks, usually followed by some snide, good-natured remark about a game or two we guessed incorrectly.

That being said, it has come to our attention that we have gotten into a bit of a rut in terms of our weekly guests.

While there are occasional new pickers, for the most part, it is a bevy of the same pickers every year. This happens more often than not because, as our weekly paper deadlines are Tuesdays, most people are not thinking about next week's games so early in the week. They are probably still coming off a Monday Night Football hangover from the night before, literal or otherwise.

Often, I find myself in a rush Tuesday mornings trying to find a NFL picker and I am usually forced to resort to many of the same people, for no other reasons than: A) I can get them on the phone quickly; and B), they can send a photo of themselves quickly. Family, friends, local coaches and athletic directors all come to mind.

Consider this your only look behind the wizard's curtain.

Despite the interest people seem to show in regards to our NFL picks when people see either myself or Ken in public (What were you thinking picking Cincinnati over San Diego?!), the interest does not seem to translate the same way when we ask the public to participate in our weekly NFL picks as our guest.

Ken and I sat in his office for several hours pontificating on this very thought (because we have that kind of time), and we narrowed it down to a few likely possibilities:

Number one: People do not want their pictures in the paper. While entirely possible, I do not subscribe to this theory. Considering the majority of the people we ask to participate are of the male persuasion, vanity does not seem to be one of our largest issues as a species. However...

Number two: People do not want to fail in front of thousands of readers in a given week. Getting warmer. Everyone is an expert until they are asked to get into the trenches themselves and line up against real competition. Sure, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take" is a well-known quote, but so is “Those who don't play have never lost,” which is one I just made up I think. Which leads me to...

Number three: People are scared.

There. I said it. I know what you're thinking, “He doesn't mean me.” I do. I mean you. YOU.

I consider myself, for all intents and purposes, pretty passionate about NFL football. I am an avid Fantasy Football player (look out for my weekly column this fall!) and listen to more sports talk radio than is rational or comprehensible. Yet at the end of every year, I'm usually hovering right around a .600 winning percentage for the year.

Hardly “expert” material.

Look, the important thing to remember is this is all fun and games here. Not only is it for bragging rights, but it is also a way for us to interact with the community members we diligently serve and write for/about, in addition to earning the chance to win a free year's subscription/membership to one of our print or online publications. So help us out.

If you think you can do a better job than we are doing, email us. If your wife thinks she can, if your son or daughter who is in second grade thinks they can, if your Uncle Rico who can throw a football “over them mountains” thinks he can, email us.

You can be a current or former student-athlete, a coach or an athletic director. A mother, wife or daughter, a father, husband or son.

You can be a lobsterman, a seamstress, a fast-food employee. An entrepreneur or someone who has worked the same job 35 years. You could be 10 years old, or you could be 90.

Heck, you can be newly-crowned Courier Publications schoolboy and schoolgirl athletes of the year Nick Mazurek and Ashley Littlefield.

Wow. Just called out two people. It is like the ALS challenge all over again.

In short, the only real requirement is you have to be knowledgable about NFL football. Our paper deadline can make picking the games five days early tricky, but we are all competing on the same playing field.

It is a microcosm of life in general. Do not be afraid to put yourselves out there and have some fun.

Who knows? You might beat one of the “experts.”

If you dare, let us know your interest in being a weekly guest by calling me at 594-4401, extension 116, or email me at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Email Me

Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.

Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.

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