Chat with Chris Lawlor
Lawlor is a senior writer covering high school sports for ESPN.com. He has covered high schools for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball.
Send in your questions and comments for Lawlor now and join him on Tuesday at noon ET!
Lawlor Archive: Columns
Christopher Lawlor (12:04 PM)
Dre is one of the top corners in the nation. I like his size at 6-feet-2 and speed. He'd look good in Crimson, right?
Chris, What do you think of Dre Kirkpatrick @ Gadsden City High School (Alabama)?
Ted (New Jersey)
how do you see ESPNRise.com coverage going?
Christopher Lawlor (12:10 PM)
We're headed for big things. Pulling together my talents will benefit prep sports nationally and give the readers a chance to understand what is going on with the big picture. So far, everthing is good. Thanks for your loyal readership.
What's been the biggest game you've covered in your time with high school sports?
Christopher Lawlor (12:13 PM)
I've seen many great high school sporting events but one that really sticks out is last year's No. 1 Northwestern (Miami) vs. No. 2 Southlake (Texas) Carroll in Dallas. So much hype and the game lived up to it. We were the lone media outlet to have Northwestern at No. 1 and they stayed atop for the entire season.
What do you think ESPN can add to the coverage of the high school sports scene?
Christopher Lawlor (12:14 PM)
Shrinking a large nation into a manageable one. Meaning we lived in a big nation with 50 states and the District of Columbia and our job is to highlight what's gping on and how it affects the national scene, rankings, trends.
With a whole country to cover, how do you decide what topics to cover?
Christopher Lawlor (12:17 PM)
Neal, that's a hard call but here goes. We try to do our research on the hot teams and players and events. It's not easy but we also follow up on leads from readers. If you have one, don't shy and let us know. There are great stories everywhere.
will you guys focus mostly on football and basketball or will you cover other high school sports as well?
Christopher Lawlor (12:18 PM)
Football and boys basketball really drive the site but we'll branch out to others. It may take some time to roll out projects but there's a plan in place.
Christopher Lawlor (12:19 PM)
When it comes to football, I'd say Valdosta (Ga.) or Massillon (Ohio) Washington. These are towns that live and breath the sport 24/7.
Dan (North Carolina)
what do you think is the most pressing issue in high school sports today?
Christopher Lawlor (12:24 PM)
Safety of our young athletes and are they being taught to respect their sport. Safety is paramount in any sport especially contact sports like football and hockey. Do the players have proper equipment, are theydrug free and have they been taught proper technique. Also, do they understand the sport and its legacies, traditions, sportsmanship and history. If you watched the Redeen Team win the gold medal the other day, you'd sense the pride they had upon winning. Remember: you need to carry yourself in a manner that all would be proud, win or lose.
Logan (Columbus, OH)
What 3 states have the best high school football?
Christopher Lawlor (12:25 PM)
Texas, Florida and California. Ohio is right behind the Big 3.
Chad (Savannah, GA)
What state, per capita, has the best HS athletes out there?
Christopher Lawlor (12:30 PM)
That's subjective but ones that deliver great athletes include Texas, Florida, California, Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina. But if you wanted, say, great hockey talent you wouldn't go these state but perhaps Massachesetts, Maine, Minnesota, or Michigan. In some cases, it may depend on the sport.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
College rankings are far from perfect. I can't imagine that high school ranking could be even close to representative. What criteria do you use to rank schools?
Do you think there will be a day when grade school sports will be covered?
Christopher Lawlor (12:31 PM)
Bob, let's hope not. Keep it local. Keep it fun.
Do you focus on just large towns do you cover small towns too ?
Christopher Lawlor (12:34 PM)
Seems like the coverage favors big team, cities but that's not always the case. There are great teams in all sizes nationally. New Jersey basketball powers St. Anthony and St. Patrick are small schools but can beat virtually anyone in a given year. Two years ago, Iota (La.) had a tough, tough girls' hoops team which regularly knocked off school 20 or 30 times their size.
What are the hot teams in the New Jersey area?
Christopher Lawlor (12:36 PM)
Same ol' names keep popping up in football, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City) and nationally ranked Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey). Hey, don't forget to check out your Teaneck Highwaymen this fall, they have a new head coach and play in the state's best league (NNJIL). But you knew that already, right?
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Do you reach out to any local high school sports writers for info? If you do and you haven't already contacted him, Ted Silary is the go-to guy for Philly HS sports.
Christopher Lawlor (12:38 PM)
Yes, we have a broad network of journalists who chime in. As for Ted, he's a Philly institution on the prep scene. He may not have the cult status of say, Puck.
what are the top high school soccer programs in the country
Christopher Lawlor (12:41 PM)
St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, NJ is the measuring stick for the nation. Although they had a down year in 2007 by their standards.
I believe Cincinnati is near the top for HS football in the country. I played 6-8 years ago, and I must say all this coverage is a little too much. What ever happened to letting kids just play? And I'm not talking only till grade school.
Christopher Lawlor (12:44 PM)
Cincinnati is one my favorite high school sports towns. Tremendous coaching, athletes, passionate fans and teams make this a top-flight city for football. The Cincinnati Enquirer does a great job with their local coverage. We're just an extension of it.
Christopher Lawlor (12:47 PM)
Hey, thanks for all the great questions and be sure to check out the new site. It's a one-stop shop for your high school sports needs. We'd like to hear your feedback, comments and questions. If you have a good story, please pass it along. Remember to support you local high school this year. Enjoy the games and we'll see you out there. I'll be in Tampa on Friday Sept. 5th for the Plant-Armwood game. South Tampa will be rocking that night. If you can't attend, watch it live on ESPN.