Well now that this term is finally over I have finished up my last and final project for the class that I started for this class.
This project was designed at first to be a why I chose to go into the sports information profession. Then I added a twist that made it more like what a sports information blog would be like if it was written from the point of view of the sports information director.
The entires that make up the majority of this project come from the trip that I took with the University of Minnesota Duluth volleyball team to the NCAA Division II Regional in St. Paul. The entries make up the majority of what happens on those trips for me, that is fit to be printed at least.
I also included my second essay in the mix for this project because it is all about the rules that you would have to follow to have a good blog at a university and what the constraints would be. So it was an extension of what my project was about.
When thinking about blogs there are many ideas on what is the best use for them and the best areas for them to be used in. In today’s world though, there are many constraints being placed on what people can do in their spare time by the companies that they work for.
The sports information field is no different than anywhere else, except that it may have more constraints than some businesses. This field works in the university setting and is not only constrained by what the university wants them to say, but also by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
However, if done in the right way a sports information blog could help both the sports information director and the university that they serve. This essay will look at different ways that the sports information blog could work, some of the constraints associated with it, and what the ideal blog would look like.
BLOGS ARE LIKE DOCUMENTARIES…
The first area that I looked in to find the best ways to produce a sports information blog was at documentaries about those in the public eye. One of the first movies suggested to me was The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night.
After watching The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night I have realized that documentaries were the early blogs. Both are designed to let more people have easier access to a subject.
In the case of the Beatles movie it was to find out more about how the group acted off the television screen and the stage. While this wasn't completely a documentary about the true life of the Beatles, you can't really tell the whole true story without making a lot of people upset.
This is the same for Sports Information Blogs. While, if they were able to be uncensored, they would be great to be able to get the media and fans more interested in the area that you were writing about. However, since as representatives of the university or the sports organization there are always things that the upper management would not want the media and public to know about.
For this movie I was able to come up with several ideas that would make a sports information blog.
1. Above all make sure that you tell a full story. Little chunks about things that happen with the team can and should be strung together to explain a full story, instead of just having small chunks that don't necessarily connect. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night is a full day in the life of the Beatles, and that is what makes it more interesting. They didn't just talk about the concert itself and the things that happen backstage, it is about the entire trip leading up the concert, including the "boring" travel time.
2. Comedy always makes things more interesting. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night might have been designed to explain the daily life of the group, but it was mainly about the funny things that happened to them and the funny things that they did or caused. This would be the same way with the teams. People wouldn't want to just hear about the stats of the game, they want to know what the personality of the team is.
3. Make sure to include sight (pictures) and sound if possible (movie clips). Having more than just words is what would make a blog more interesting. In the Beatles movie they broke up different parts of the story with the songs from the album. While a blog is not a movie it would be important to include at least pictures on the blog to show the action that is going on.
4. Make sure to show more than just things about the sport that you are covering with the blog. The movie about the Beatles showed the things that the group liked to do besides playing music. This is extremely important because it allows you to show that the athlete is just like everyone else, while showing the personalities as well.
5. Focus at least a large portion of the blog on a player that is not as well known. This idea allows the viewer to know more about that person, while allowing them to tell more about the highlight players on the team from a different angle. The Beatles did this by using a lot of time to focus singularly on Ringo, not Paul or John.
6. Make sure to constrain the blog to a special time in the season. While it would be nice to continue the blog throughout the entire season, but you would lose interest. So in a sports information blog you would want to focus on specific times in the season like:
• Preseason, when the team is just starting to get to know each other
• Big Tournaments, so you can see how the team reacts under pressure
• Post-Season play, get a behind the scenes look of a successful team so that the media (who like to concentrate on this time anyway) can have more human interest story ideas to write about)
The next area that I looked at was in the sports world itself. While trying to find another documentary type movie to compare to The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night I came across NHL: All Access. The description on this movie reads:
"Hockey fans will feel they've scored with this behind-the-scenes look at the National Hockey League. The disc includes game clips, locker room footage and insights from players, coaches and officials as they prepare for and play one of the world's most intense (and bloody) sports. The DVD also features memorable events such as Wayne Gretzky's retirement and Mario Lemieux's post-cancer return to play."
This screamed blog to me. This is exactly what a blog would have in it if it were done on the National Hockey League. I know that the NHL now does have a blog page set up. (http://www.nhl.com/blogcentral) But this video was the pre-blog world for the NHL.
While watching this video I saw more example of what would make a good blog for sports at a university. The best ideas that came through in this movie were:
1. Do different entries as "A Day in the Life of..." This would allow you to keep the blog interesting throughout a season as each day or week would have a focus on a single athlete. At UMD we have started to do something like this on a small scale. We now put up the spotlight on the players that go in each edition of the program the week after they were spotlighted. This is all supplemental information about the athlete that makes fans feel like they know them better and could give media human interest story ideas based on the responses.
We do have to sensor these entire often to make sure that there isn't anything to disgusting or too personal about them, but you do get to know a lot about the athlete. (http://www.umdbulldogs.com/womens/hockey/index.php?sect_rank=5
THE BEST TACTICS...
The NHL: All-Access video helped me understand the best way to approach a sports information blog, but it also gave me great ideas on how best to accomplish those ideas. Luckily these tactics can cross the border from television to written material as well without much problem on a blog.
The best ways to convey aspect of a sports information blog are:
1. Make sure you have several and complete interviews with the entire team, from the coach all the way down through the trainers. Every person that is on the bench or sidelines of a game is a great source of information about the team and players. Especially those that are not normally though of as being part of the team like the equipment manager and trainers. These members actually have more information about the personal traditions and habits of the players and the coaches than anyone because unlike the coaches and players they tend to stick with the same team for their entire careers and can tell you the differences in what a player of coach was like at the beginning of their career as apposed to the end.
2. You also want to make sure you have entries on the blog that talk about the atmosphere of the building that you play in, what the fans bring to the game, and the day-to-day aspects of being part of the team. The building and fan atmosphere would be most important on a blog. This would again draw the fans to the site to find out what is best about what they do at the games to pump the team up and what they don't respond to. It helps not only educate the fans on what the team would like to draw from them, but it also make the fans feel like they are part of the team.
Atmosphere is the most important thing in a sports building. There are several stadiums and ice rinks around the country that give the home teams a distinctive advantage because of the atmosphere that is created. When you have visiting team is dreading playing at a specific rink it gives the home team a jump start on their way to a win. Just look at teams like Duke basketball, who have not lost much in the last two decades in their home arena, or North Dakota at the Ralph Engelstad Arena for hockey.
3. It is also very important to make sure that there is a graphical element to the entries. Having something like a photo gallery is important because if a fan can't be at the event that you are talking about the images that result from them can be the next best thing. This would be especially important when events that you want to highlight, such as post-season play, are our of town and travel is too expensive for most of the fans.
CONSTRAINTS ON BLOG WRITING...
After watching The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night I came up with several constraints that would not allow a sports information blog about athletes. These constraints would not only effect the amount of content that would be allowed on the site, but it would also sensor it too much to have the blog seem real enough for fans to enjoy or media to trust as a source of possible story ideas.
1. You can't talk about or show anything that revolves around alcohol, sex, drugs, or anything illegal. While this seems like a no-brainer, alcohol is the most important rule that would be missed. The schools that we deal with all know that the athletes drink, but you would have to make sure that there was no reference to it and especially to under aged drinking. The media would love this stuff and grasp on and not let up until something happened to the athletes. Just look at the local example of the mayor of Duluth getting arrested for Drunk Driving in Wisconsin. This story has been front page news since Sunday (that is four days now). If a normal citizen had been involved it wouldn't have even made the news. This just goes to show how much the media like to crucify public figures.
2. You are not allowed to talk about new recruits in Division II sports. Division I sports have lifted the rules saying that you can only mention a new recruit once, as long as they are not the only topic in the story, but Division II has not. This is all about the constraints of the NCAA and this leads into the next constraint.
3. The NCAA would want the final say about what could and could not go up if it had anything to do with the staff of the university. So if you wanted to have the sports information person be the editor the NCAA would eventually become involved and set more and more constraints about what could go up. But if the school did not have any involvement in the process it could be totally uncensored by the athlete, but that would defeat the purpose of trying to create more media and fan attention for the school.
This is just the beginning of what I'm sure would become a full and drawn out process of review and rules placed on a blog written by or about athletes at a university. It just adds to my idea that a sports information blog, while interesting, would not be a good idea to write because of all the constraints.
THE IDEAL SPORTS INFORMATION BLOG...
NHL blogcentral is the exact replica of a sports information blog that you would want. Before viewing it I hadn’t thought about adding in blogs about the sport that you are covering from the fans and the media’s viewpoint, but it seems like a good balance.
NHL blogcentral has blogs from several of the teams in the NHL as well as featured blogs written by journalists from around the world, fans from different backgrounds, and even a stats blog.
The team sites vary from team to team, but all have a general layout that would be a good starting point for a university sports information blog. You should have entries written by the coaches, and players as well as from the sports information staff. On the Vancouver Canucks blog they even go as far as giving a detailed account of each game, down to the minute. (http://blog.canucks.com)
The addition of the media point of view is a great idea. If, like here in Duluth, you have a dedicated sports writer for a sport if they want to they can start a blog on your site. Duluth News Tribune sports writer Kevin Pates currently has a sort of blog on the papers site that could be linked to the schools site to increase traffic and information about the teams.
Pates currently answers questions that are sent in to him from a form on the DNT site. If you combined this with a UMD Hockey blog and added in the fan sites that are currently out there you would have a wide variety of information for those viewing the site.
However, you would have to do like the University of Minnesota does and add a tag line at the bottom of the blog saying that the opinions expressed on the site are those of the posters and not the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The most similar blog to what a sports information director would write in their blogs. The stats blog on the NHL site is about interesting little tidbits that at least the media is interested in. In a way it is more like the notes pages that we put out.( http://blog.stats.com/nhl_blog)
Right now blogs are so new that many people are just starting to understand them and because of this they are just starting to come under scrutiny. In the sports information field there could be a great advancement in the field with them, but they would have to be heavily constrained to make sure that they didn’t violate rules set forth by the universities and the NCAA.
It many not seem strange that a team or a coach would have superstitutions about there game days. But when you actually know what they are it seems funny.
The best one that I have come across has to be with volleyball. There is a certain member of the team that always has to have chicken at the pregame meal and there is another that has to have the same meal a Perkins before every game to "ensure a win."
That means that we eat at Perkins for every pregame meal on the road. Normally this isn't too much of a problem because you only play one or two games on the road in a week. But when it comes to regionals three days of matches means three days of eating a Perkins, how fun.
This last trip to the regionals was working out fine eating a Perkins everyday (except for the monety) until the last day when we lost.
As a group of 20 we head in to the resturant a little later than we normally would because this Perkins had done a great job of getting our orders and food to us so we were in and out in about an hour. That is not what would happen on the day of the finals though.
The manger of the resturant decides that since it isn't that busy he is going to give our big group to a brand new waitress on her first day. We didn't realize this until later when he told us, but we knew something was different when she had a hard time taking our orders.
So there we are sitting around talking and the girls are preparing mentally for the game. After about 45 mintues and we still haven't even gotten our salads and muffins we ask the manager what is going on with the food. At this point we have about 40 minutes until we have to be back at the school.
He then tells us "It will be about five more minutes, but I can make up anything to go that you want."
"That's not an option for us, we have to play in about an hour and a half," responded the coach.
That is when the manager started to scramble. It still took about 15 more minutes until we had the start of the order. The head coach and I were the last to get our food and we had about five minutes to eat.
It wouldn't have been so bad at first if all the orders started to come out wrong. People didn't get there dressings or the right combinations of food. At one point they brought a chicken tender sandwich with a baked potato. Well I had order the chicken tenders with a baked potato and mac & cheese and no one had order a chicken tender sandwhich.
Once the food started coming out, a waitress started her shift that had helped us last year. She was the best, and she made sure that she straightened as much out as she could for us.
They also forgot to bring out side dishes for people and then once they did bring them, they kept bring more out. I think that we got about two extra pumpkin muffins and sides of bacon that were brought out that had to be sent back.
Well when I finally got my food, there was just one thing wrong, NO mac and cheese. They had brought out my chicken tenders with a baked potato and mashed potatoes. I thought about asking where my french fries, breakfast potatoes, and hashbrowns were since they obviously thought that I really like potatoes, but I didn't.
The team likes to blame that experience on why we lost the championship match. I still think that someone from Concordia set us up and went and talked to the management before we came in.
Yet, at least teh coaches can have fun with this kind of thing after the matches. When we stopped for food n the way home that night we walked in to McDonalds and the coached asked:
"Where is my pumpkin muffin and side bacon?"
I then added "I'm still waiting on my mac and cheese."
So at least everyone new that it wasn't the end of the world that we lost.
I'm still waiting on the mac and cheese by the way.
Well unfortunetly for the volleyball team they were not able to play their best match of the season and lost in three to Concordia-St. Paul in the regional final. So now their season is over and I am back in Duluth trying to catch up on work and homework.
I have to study for a test that I missed last week that I will be taking tomorrow moring at 9:30 and get all the stuff done for this class.
Plus, even through I was not here for the hockey games, I had to get the weekly notes and player of the week nominations in to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
No I have to get going to a meeting so i'll see you all in class on Tuesday.
As a sports information director I know that I am supposed to be concerned about how well my team does, but sometimes (like in the national tournament) I think that I get to involved.
I sit in the stands with the parents and cheer all the way through the games, and I get just as emotional as the team does with the wins and losses.
Sometimes I even cheer a little too much. Last year, when we won the North Central Regional for volleyball, we watched the tape of the championship match on the bus on the way home. I could hear myself yealling all the way through the match, and as an SID I don't know if that is a good thing or not.
I think that we are supposed to be for our team, but not that much.
Oh well, at least I get view like this to go back to at the hotels we stay at to relax me.
At least I know I do this and can try to work on it. Although I don't think now woudl be a good time, maybe I'll wait until I get a new job somewhere else. It's just too much fun to cheer with the parents right now.
One of the perks of traveling with teh team is that you get all of your meals paid for by the school or the NCAA, in the case of this trip.
Last night we went to dinner at Green Mill adn it was a fun meal since we had won. The team even took the time to pose for a quick shot for me.
Having your meals paid for is great for a poor, starving college student like me. It saves a lot of money for more important things, like paying the bills that I have from buying food for the last two years.
So far on this trip we have gone to eat at Appleby's, Green Mill, one of the players house (breakfast today), and to Perkins twice. We will head to Perkins again tomorrow, because it is a game day ritual for us to go there. The coach even gets the same dish every time. The one time that he chose something else, we lost.
On of the good things about my job is getting to know the athletes and in some cases their parents. The picture below is of one or our senior volleyball players parents. This season I have spent a lot of times cheering with them at games adn it has been great.
The Bulldogs won the first match of the NCAA Division II North Central Regional so we get to stay in St. Paul for at least one more day. The parents and I were having fun listen to the cheers that some of our parents were coming up with. Since we have a player on our team named Katie Gangelhoff and the place that we are playing at is called the Gangelhoff Center (and yes, someone in her distant family did pay for it), her parents are having a lot of fun playing off that.
I just end up laughing most of the time because of what they say and the barking that they do. It is really funny to hear a grown woman barking as a cheer.
Right now I am sitting at the gym waiting for the bus to pick up me and the coaches so we can go to dinner with the team. THis is the most boring part of the day. Sitting around and waiting for stuff to happen.
At least tomorrow during the down time we get an extra treat and get to come to the gym a little early and watch our women's basketball team play in a tournament.
Well more later, I think the bus will be here soon.
Well, now that we have reached the NCAA Tournament time I find myself asking why I decided to be a sports information director. This week has been very hectic and actually started right away on Sunday.
Here is my To Do List:
Group Metting for class at Noon
Women's Hockey WCHA Notes and send to the league
AVCA Nominations for Volleyball Players (Took four and a half hours)
Wait to find out where Volleyball Regionals will be and inform the media
Work on and finish Volleyball Post Season Media Guide
Women's Hockey Notes
Print 25 copies of Post Sesaon Guide
Women's Hockey Changing Pages
Dr. on Tuesday at 10:45 (Since I seem to like to continually fall on my knee)
Set up make-up date and time for Advertising and Promotion Test
Work on Blog project
Finish Essay for New Media Writing
Pack for Regionals
Normally I would have the entire week to do most of these things, but since we were leaving at Noon on Wednesday, I had two days to do it.
So now I am sitting in my hotel room working on homework after spending the entire day on the bus and stuck at practice. I haven't even had a chance to get a start on my essay that is due in about 12 hours so I better start on that before I go to sleep.
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 staying 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.
Well, first let me say that I knew Patches was smart, but not that smart. I'll have to keep a closer eye on her from now on, I only know the stories that she could tell (Scary)!!!!
Anyway, yesterday was the USA Women's National Team versus the WCHA All-Stars down at the DECC. And since the university decided that this would be a good thing to HELP host. I got roped into doing a lot of work that I really didn't need right now.
I guess I should be greatful about it. At least I got to know more of the people in USA Hockey besides my old boss from MTU. And know they know what kind of work that I can do. So it could be helpful in the future when I'm looking for a real job.
But, it was really stressful. I got to the DECC yesterday at about 1:30 and didn't leave until about 10:30. I got the best workout that I've had in about seven months.
Running up and down those stairs to the pressbox takes a lot out of you. And when you do it about 20 times in a day it is even better.
At least my knee mostly held up. I had to go get ice after the first two trips, but then I just blocked it out and kept going.
What else was I going to do since there is no elevator up to the pressbox.
Here is what the view from the pressbox looks like.
Here is the story that I just wrote about tongihts 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 bruse 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.
So, normally I wuldn't say anything about the was 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 mosting 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 antognizing (?spelling?) 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.
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 wen tout 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.