’Twas a month before the APSE contest deadline, and all through the land, not a sports editor was stirring, lifting nary a hand …

OK, a few among us might be starting to think about those contest entries, but the vast majority probably aren’t. We’ve got other matters on our minds this month, from holiday tournaments, to playoff chases, to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (that’s a real thing, by the way).

And, oh yeah, it’s holiday season.

Plus (and I’ll put on my own procrastinator’s cap for a moment), the January 17 deadline for the 2017 APSE contest is still about a month away. We’ve got plenty of time, right?

APSE president Jeff Rosen of The Kansas City Star

I’m going to spend a moment here at the top of my monthly President’s Column telling you why it’s a good idea to be thinking about the contest now, and not 29 days from now.

First, it takes time to choose your best stuff. Whether we’re talking stories, or video, or daily, Sunday or special sections, combing through the best work produced by your shop shouldn’t be a slap-dash endeavor. You hopefully did some journalism that you’re rightfully proud of this year, and you owe it to yourself and your team to take a thoughtful approach to culling down to the best of the best.

Even if you’re among the small percentage of us who’ve already determined your can’t-miss entries, there’s still the matter of preparing them for upload or transit to the appropriate contest catcher. This, too, takes time.

Take it from someone who has played it both ways over the last two-plus decades: getting ahead on the contest in December, even if you’re just winnowing potential entries, will make for a calmer entry process when January rolls around.

Not pushing the deadline on entries will also make this year’s contest coordinator, first vice president John Bednarowski, a much happier man.

Join us in St. Pete

Speaking of the contest, will you be joining us Feb. 24-28 for the 2018 Winter Conference and contest judging in St. Petersburg, Fla.? The site for reservations is up and running, so now would be a good time to book your hotel room. APSE has secured a group rate at the comfy Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown St. Pete, near the Poynter Institute. A number of nice restaurants are within walking distance along Beach Drive.

A heads-up, though, if you’re planning on coming in early: the hotel has no rooms available in the days leading up to Friday, Feb. 23 (when our group rate kicks in). If you want or need to be in St. Pete before that, be advised that you’ll be looking for accommodations elsewhere. Why is the Hampton Inn & Suites booked solid in February the week before we arrive? Well, because winter in St. Pete beats the hell out of winter in Kansas City or anywhere else where winter days aren’t sunny and 75 degrees.

See what I just did there? A subtle plug for coming to Florida to help us judge the contest. We really do need all the help we can get. … Look for the lowdown on judging, as well as how to enter the contest, to be posted soon at apsportseditors.com.

If you can’t make it to Florida but want to be involved in the judging of America’s best sports journalism, get involved as an off-site judge. To sign up or learn more about the process, email me at jrosen@kcstar.com.

Welcome back

Some of you have asked me if second VP Todd Adams will be coming to the Winter Conference. He will. We’re excited to welcome Todd back into the mix. It’s been too long. And I’m sure he’d appreciate it if you bought him a sea breeze in Florida.

Diversity class of 2018

Please join me in welcoming this year’s class of APSE Diversity Fellows: Erik Bacharach, Adam Coleman, Kwani Lunis and Reina Kempt. You’ll be able to meet all four at the Winter Conference, but Philly’s Gary Potosky has a story in the works for our website in which you’ll be able to read about each of them. Congratulations, Erik, Adam, Kwani and Reina … I guarantee that you’ll find the Diversity Fellows experience to be richly rewarding and one that will pay dividends for years to come.

Money, money

Hat-tip No. 1: Goes to Tuscaloosa News sports boss Tommy Deas, my immediate predecessor as APSE president. You might recall that I appointed Tommy the chair of the newly created Revenue Committee back in June at the 2017 Summer Conference in New Orleans. His mandate was simple: raise money in new and creative ways that will allow us to quit sweating the very existence of our Summer Conference. Well, mission accomplished. With some appreciated assistance from Michael Anastasi and Dave Ammenheuser of Gannett, Tommy has us fully funded for what promises to be a fabulous 2018 Summer Conference in Nashville. He even has a healthy jump on 2019.

The dates for Nashville, by the way, are June 17-20. More details soon …

Joining forces

Hat-tip No. 2: Shout-out to Lydia Craver and president Jenny Creech of AWSM for their interest in linking up with APSE for our region meetings. AWSM was involved in the recent Northeast Region meeting at Quinnipiac. Before that, it participated in a four-panel event held at the Yogi Berra Museum on Montclair State’s campus in the New York/New Jersey area. Lydia and Jenny have recently reached out to all of our region chairs about further partnerships, wherein AWSM takes an active role in coordinating and planning some spring meetings, and I couldn’t be more pleased with this development. Especially now, when so many women are boldly coming forward with what seems like one sexual-harassment story after another, it behooves APSE’s male-dominated membership to join ranks with our fellow sports-media professionals in reinforcing that such behavior is 100 percent unacceptable in any form or situation. Join me in warmly welcoming AWSM members to an upcoming APSE regional near you.

Recommended reading: Poynter on net neutrality

If you’re like me, you’re still a little fuzzy on what this past week’s repeal of “net neutrality” means and, more to the point, what it spells for our industry. No one knows for sure, but it doesn’t sound great. I found some good information in this story on Poynter’s website (written ahead of the FCC vote that indeed ended net neutrality). Give it a read. It examines a recent report that cuts through a lot of the jargon and BS.

Pitching in

Two more quick notes, and then I need to step away from the computer before this thing ends up reading like War and Peace, The Sequel. If you haven’t noticed, Erik Hall has done a terrific job compiling the revived “On the Move” feature on our website. If you see a move that we’ve missed, drop Erik a line at hallerik7@gmail.com. … Similar kudos to our own Louisville slugger, Chris White, who continues to build out a website that we can all be proud of. There’s work left to do, but not so much anymore, and that’s thanks to Chris’ dogged dedication. He has even been painstakingly “back tagging” old APSE stories and posts according to our new, simplified tagging convention –- a process that, while done behind the scenes, has made the site that much more robust and layered. Can’t thank him enough.

Holiday cheers

That’s about it for this month. If you have thoughts on this month’s installment of my President’s message, or suggestions about future columns or stories we might write for the site, share them with me at jrosen@kcstar.com. I’m always up for a good story idea.

Have a safe and healthy and prosperous holiday season, and don’t forget to get cracking on those contest entries. Trust me, you’ll thank me later … and so will Mr. Bednarowski.

Your president,

Jeff Rosen

AME/Sports, The Kansas City Star