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Future Shock

Young guns: A new breed of sports broadcasters

Student broadcasters developing their own social media identity
University Business, September 2013

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory set the record for the most related tweets in the UK—placing his Centre Court championship in the ranks of President Obama’s election night speech, the Pope’s inauguration, and—go figure—the Spice Girls reunion at the Olympics.

Now, the Campus Insiders website is using this fascination with social media to lure readers to sports highlights and analysis. It has 37,000 likes on Facebook and 2,400 Twitter followers.

Heavy on basketball and football, it’s an online platform that feeds the insatiable appetite of an expanding collegiate athletics community on social media. The site offers behind-the-scenes glimpses, perspectives, and backstories from players and coaches.

Beyond technical skills, Campus Insiders’ sportscaster interns learn more about the so-called “soft skills” of critical thinking, problem solving, dispute resolution, team play, and professional communication. In multiple languages and infinite replays, one clicks from cricket in South Africa, to lacrosse at Johns Hopkins, softball at the University of Oklahoma, the MLB All-Star game in NYC, and World Cup soccer from around the world. Add to these events social media messaging and face time where fashion and flare meet athletic finesse in the palm of your handheld mobile device.

Campus Insiders captures behind the scenes glimpses, perspectives, and backstories from players and coaches on the field of play and right in the locker room. “This platform prototype is the next generation’s version of ESPN,” says Executive Vice President Crowley Sullivan, who’s best known as a prominent ESPN producer. “College kids are the trailblazers when it comes to all digital sports broadcasting. Eventually, they will want to be able to watch an entire game through Twitter. And, they want to hear from the student athletes themselves.”

Michigan State football player Mike Sadler has a Twitter bio that modestly reads: “I punt footballs and tell bad jokes.” A Rhodes Scholar candidate for a Ph.D. in economics, Sadler has also been scouted for the NFL. His tweets provide fresh perspective on the expanding sports broadcasting social media network for millennial. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Campus Insiders create a mindshare, a virtual marketplace where athletes and fans are broadcasters as well and where students have a chance to attract pro-scouts and loyal alumni.

Well recognized on Broadway and in Hollywood, Emerson College in Boston gets its broadcasting students into the pipeline to Sports Channel, Fox Sports, and ABC. Emerson’s undergraduate broadcasting program has grown as students become interested in collegiate athletics communications and sports media career opportunities. Ranked by The Sports Talent Agency of America (STAA) in the top 20 collegiate sports broadcasters, Emerson graduates are linked together in all the right places.

Full Sail University’s venture with World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is another example of students joining the frontlines of live productions, broadcasts, and video journalism.

Students plan, stage, and execute live WWE competitions in Full Sail’s performance studio. Profits from the events help fund scholarships.

Full Sail has successfully strategized new ways and means to integrate real time, online, and asynchronous sports video edutainment into a blended intercollegiate athletics learning experience. Through its collaboration with WWE, students plan, stage, and execute live competitions, in Full Sail’s state-of-the-art performance studio. Importantly, all profits from the event circle back to the student in the form of scholarship money, WWE Dollars for Full Sail Scholars.

On the field or in the field house, college athletics and pro-sports events provide more scholarship money than any single source—other than federal and state governments. What is changing in the world of intercollegiate athletics is that educational resources are now invested in the production and broadcast of big time athletics and sports events on campus and beyond.

For students old enough to remember the movie “Wall Street”—yet not old enough to remember the legendary Edward R. Murrow—in this new world order of the online, 24/7 marketplace, neither money nor the game ever sleeps.

James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of The Sustainable University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.) and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.