November 17, 2005

Blog: Good or Bad for Sports Information?

The Internet has become a huge part of our everyday lives. We use it everyday to check our email, do our work, and for entertainment. As we continue to learn more about what the Internet can do for us. But, where do you draw the line on what you make available to the general public?

In the collegiate Sports Information field information may be our job, but too much of it available to the general public and the media can be a bad thing. There have been some suggestions lately that think that a blog would help the field draw more media attention. This could be a good thing, but in most cases it would actually put too much information out there.

Worries about blogging....
On Jill Walker’s site (http://jilltxt.net/?p=1560) she had an entry about how someone talked about his friend and embellished the story to make it more interesting. Then the friend found out about it and was angry and posted a comment that told the true story. This is one reason why writing blogs can be dangerous. You don’t know if everything that you read is true or the entire story.

This is one reason why a blog for a sports information director probably wouldn’t work. As a university employee yo9u can’t say a lot of things that you hear. For instance if you have a player on a team you are covering that is injured even if you know that they have dislocated their knee and will be out for the rest of the season all that you can legally say is that they have a knee injury are will be out for the rest of the season.

Plus a lot of what you know happens you would not want the public to know about. As a sports information director you are there to be like a public relations expert for your team as well as a fountain of information. So if your coach goes out and gets a DWI you would not want to be talking about that because if the media found out they would pounce on it and never let it go.


Too much info...
On Jill Walker’s blog (http://jilltxt.net/) she talks about a fine line between having anyone in the world have access to your site and all of your thoughts.

She didn’t want her students to be able to view her pictures on Flicker so she removed the link from her site. If a sports information person had a site that was accessible to students and media you would not want them to know a lot of the information that you could and would probably want to put up.

For instance if you wanted it to be viewed by the media, the thing that would drive them to it would be if you had interviews with athletes. This would allow them to find out more information about them to determine if they wanted to do a feature story or not. The problem with this is that you would have to make sure that it was kept within a certain range of information because you would not want some information out.

The purpose of a blog in my mind is to have an uncensored view of what is happening in your life or the area that you are interesting in and writing about. This is not what the university would want you to do with the student athletes lives. There are some things that you just have to keep to yourselves. We are there to help the media, but not to hand them scandalous stories.

The only way that I see a Sports Information blog working, would be if it was for other sports information directors in the country. The blog could be used to help others with problems that they come up against or tips to help them with new areas that they find themselves in.

You could have an open forum that that would allow you to share tips and to ask statistical questions, but it would not be for much else.

Too much information would not just apply to the student-athletes, but the writer of the blog itself. The entries below are events that I wrote about a trip that I took early on in the season. One talks about drinking, which most schools know happens, but would not want the media to know exactly what goes on. The second has a negative tone about a bus company that we use. If the company saw this they may get angry and drop the contract with us, which would make the rest of the year’s travel very diffictult.

"Beautiful Aberdeen, South Dakota"
Why is it that every time that you decide to go out and actually have a little bit of fun on a night that you know you really shouldn't, but someone else is paying that you end up paying for it the next day.

Those times always seem like they are the ones that you all say, ok we will only say out for an hour and have one or two drinks and then go home. However, those are also the days that you end up staying for two to three hours and have five or six drinks.

This is what happened to me this weekend. I went out with the other Sports Info people that were at the tournament in "Beautiful Aberdeen, South Dakota." We had a great time, but since I haven't been out for like four months I really wasn't doing too god in the morning.

I guess that it was all worth it though, because I meet a lot of cool people and learned a lot about the other SID's at the tournament that were brave enough to go out. Plus it was worth it to go out because our team is trying to give me a heartattack by going to as many five game matches as they can this season against teams that they should be able to win in three.

We ended up winning all three matches on the weekend so it was good on that respect at least. Plus I made it back in one piece so I guess the weekend was good all around.

The Trip from H-E Double Hockey Sticks
Well...

I went to Houghton with the volleyball team on Tuesday and it was not a real fun trip.

It started out just like normal, get on the bus, try to do some studying, give up and watch the movie, same old same old.

Then the bus driver asked the coach how to get to Houghton and since I am from there I was pulled up to the front of the bus to show him the directions. How scary is that when your bus driver need directions to get to the town that you are going to.

Then we went to eat and when we got done with that the driver asked me to stay up front to show him how to get to the gym. I told him that all he had to do was to make a right out of the parking lot and then follow the road straight until it wound around to the gym.

He said that he wanted to make sure that he didn't get lost. So, feeling that it was stupid to think that you could ever get lost in Houghton, I stayed up front and guided him to the SDC.

Then the match started and it was not pretty. UMD is way better then the Huskies (as much as I hate to admit it since I'm from MTU) and they were without two of their top players. UMD should have dominated throughout the match, but they didn't.

They started to play down to the level of the team we were playing again. We ended up winning in three, but the coaches weren't exactly happy with the effort.
Plus the stats were off and they couldn't get them completely right while I was there. I finally took what they had and got on the bus late for the first time ever.
We stopped for food and then I was asked to guide the driver out of town again. Well we got about 10 miles out and the bus broke down twice. We ended up waiting it out for about 30 minutes before we could get it going again and decided that we were going to go until the bus died completely. At least there was another bus in the area that could pick us up if need be.

Well, we got to the road before the final turn and the driver said that he could make it from there. But I decided to stay put, and it was a good thing I did.
If I hadn't I don't know if we would have made it home because he missed the last turn because he was on the phone and I had to yell at him to turn around.

The bus eneded up stopping twice more for the same misterious problem before we were able to make it home.

To make a long story short it took 5 and a half hours to make a four hour trip.

Constraints, Constraints, Constraints...
Jill Walker’s hypertext essay (http://jilltxt.net/txt/FeralHypertext.pdf) talks about constraints and how they affect the original meaning behind something that is meant to be helpful.

That is how I see a blog about sports information starting and then becoming a problem.
In the field we are constrained by the university that you work for on what information that they want out about heir athletes. But if you did it on tips and advice they wouldn’t have a problem with it.

But, eventually I would see a problem occurring. That would be the interference of the NCAA or COSIDA, the Collegiate Sports Information Director of America organization.
Both of these entities like to come in and constrain what happens in the college sports world.

Recently COSIDA put forth an effort to make it so that media guides can only be 208 pages. While I personally think that this was a good thing because some guides were so hard to find information in that it was getting ridiculous, it is just a form of constraining what the field can do.

The NCAA is also known for trying to have their hands in everything. Starting in 2006 they are starting a rule that colleges can no longer have alcohol sold on the site of games. So now when you go to a hockey game at someplace like North Dakota or Wisconsin they won’t be able to sell beer.

I don’t really understand why the NCAA has to be involved in this. It is not like it is being sold to the athletes or anyone underage. So why do they have to determine whether or not you sell alcohol?

This just goes to show that a sports information blog would start out as a good thing, but then after a while someone would step up and set constraints.

What you want to say, but can’t…
Another problem with constraints is that even though it would make for interesting information. For example, the sway that fans react, or don’t react can be helpful to sports information directors around the country. However, when the information is negative the university would not want you to say anything about it.

The story below is an example of what you probably could say and what I wrote about on my blog this year. If the power-that-be were to look at this they may be upset that I would even think about publish something that the media could see that would even have the idea that I thought that there was a problem.

Student Life at UMD
So, normally I wouldn't say anything about the way that students react on campus about stuff, because it would make to many people made. But this time I would like to say something positive so I figured that was ok.

This weekend was the first real home game for the UMD volleyball team. They have played at home already this season, but that was two weeks before school started so the students weren't here, so I won't hold that against them.

Anyway, Friday's match was great! We had a crowd of 852, that was mostly students. I think that in the three years that I have been here I have only seen a crowd like that when we play Concordia-St. Paul and it is a dress up night.

These students were great though. They had an amazing energy throughout the match. And I was even more impressed that they didn't sink to antagonizing the other team. And this would have been really easy since the team wasn't doing so great at the match.
I saw a lot of other athletes at the event and they seemed to be the ring leaders for the rest of the group and that is what we need here at UMD.

I know that men's hockey gets a lot of student support, but now it is great to see the students branching out to other sports.

There was also a large contingent of students at the home football game this weekend as well.

From what I've seen so far, I think that the students are finally getting interested in stuff on campus. maybe it is because the teams are winning, but I hope it is because there is a real interest.

What might work…
The following blog is something that might work for a sports information blog. It talks about more than you can fit into a story that you write for the university and the media. This would probably only be interesting to those in the field or friends or the person writing it though, because most of the general public really only cares about the score and who had the best stats.

Greatest Game in a Long Time!
Here is the story that I just wrote about tonight’s volleyball game between the No. 4 Bulldogs and the No. 5 Golden Bears of Concordia-St. Paul.
The picture I took and risked life and limb to get, as for the second time in my life when my boss from Michigan Tech (Dave Fischer) was in the building I got smacked hard in the side of the head with a volleyball during warm-ups. I blame him for this one. I only have a slight swelling on the right side of my face and I'm expecting it to bruise tomorrow.

Anyway here is the story and the picture.

Here students pose for a quick shot before the start of the
match against Concordia-St. Paul and the second annual
Hawaiian Night. The Bulldogs had a record 1,267 fans in
attendance for the 3-1 victory over the Golden Bears.

The No. 4 University of Minnesota Duluth earned a huge regional and national victory against No. 5 Concordia University-St. Paul, 3-1 (20-30, 36-34, 34-32, 30-21), in front of the largest volleyball crowd in Bulldogs history. Students, athletes, and members of the community came out strong for UMD setting a 1,267 attendance record to cheer on the Bulldogs to their 13th straight victory.

Game one gave the fans in attendance a scare as UMD had a 12-8 lead and then started to lose steam as the Golden Bears fought back to win 30-20. Game two then started out win the same momentum as CSP fought hard and were up 25-21 before the Bulldogs took over and forced the game to extra points, eventually winning 36-34 with a kill by freshman setter Katie Gangelhoff.

After that it was pretty much all UMD. Game three was another highly contested match as CSP then fought back from a 27-24 disadvantage to force extra points for the second straight game, but this time the Bulldogs came out on top with a 34-32 victory.

UMD then pulled together to use the momentum and the crowd's support to earn a 30-21 victory in the fourth and final game of the match.

Sophomore outside hitter Kari Wolford was the top performer for the Bulldogs as she garnered 21 kills, nine digs, three blocks, and one service ace. Right behind her was fellow sophomore Vicky Braegelmann who tallied 19 kills, five digs, and one block. Junior Rachel Langseth also contributed 13 kills and four blocks.

Gangelhoff also had a large hand in the success of UMD tonight as she garnered 56 assists, four kills, and 20 digs.

Defensively senior libero Allison Boddy dug up 18 of the Golden Bears attacks and 28 of their service attempts. Junior Chelsea Meierotto was big on the serving as she had 26 service attempts and one service ace to go along with 10 digs.

UMD, now 14-2 overall and 4-0 in the North Central Conference, will now travel to St. Cloud State University for a Saturday, Oct. 1 match at 4:30 p.m.

Posted by laje0007 at November 17, 2005 2:19 PM