New media changes the way we watch and cover sports

Though St. John’s basketball fans couldn’t be in attendance to see the men’s team go up to Canada and win four games in 32 hours, they were able to get as close to the action without gathering for team meals and pseudo-mandatory French lessons.

Thanks to the ever-growing media world, the St. John’s athletics department teamed with SSN Canada, web home to Canadian sporting events, to host a video feed of the Red Storm’s games up north this weekend.

What’s more, fans were treated to video interviews from head coach Norm Roberts,
assistant coaches Chris Casey, Fred Quartlebaum, and Glenn Briaca, as well as sophomore Malik Boothe and freshmen Dwight Hardy and Malik Stith, each posted on the St. John’s Red Storm Facebook page. In
addition, Storm fans were greeted by a chuckling Paris Horne for a video edition of his blog, Around the Horne.

Videos were also posted of the team leaving the Newark Airport and arriving in Canada,
and the athletic department put out its familiar press releases recapping play-by-play, available via RedStormSports.com.

If that wasn’t enough for St. John’s hoops fanatics, the athletics department Tweeted their experiences so fans could follow the action on-the-run. Make no mistake: This is what Neil Armstrong meant when he said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

No, I’m not talking about the program making St. John’s basketball known throughout North America, though after this trip I wouldn’t be surprised if the team added a few fans north of the border.

No game the Red Storm played this weekend was shown on local television and no fan had any realistic opportunity to attend the games, yet a plethora of diverse St. John’s basketball coverage was available to the public and kept all interested fans informed.

The way we watch sports is starting to change. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: The way we cover sports is starting to change, too.

I did not attend any of the four games this weekend.

I was not present at the airport or the hotel rooms, and I didn’t speak with Horne or Roberts or anyone else – yet I was able to write my story capping all the action from this weekend’s Labor Day trip for all those who didn’t visit Facebook or Twitter.

This weekend, I covered the games from outside the arenas, taking advantage of all the new media available to me.

I tuned into SSN Canada to watch the games – which wasn’t the easiest thing to do for fans arriving late, considering there was no familiar graphic with the clock or score visible like fans are used to seeing – and I don’t even remember how many times I hit the “refresh” button on my web browser for the latest Facebook updates that may have been posted.

My postgame quotations were taken from the pre and postgame videos and attributed to the Red Storm’s Facebook page. It’s not quite the same as talking to Roberts or Horne or Casey or Hardy, and maybe my unorthodox approach to the story was a bit taboo in a naturally conservative field
driven by peer pressure. I guess this is my scarlet letter.

But the sports journalism field is rapidly changing, and it’s finally hit St. John’s in a way that draws Red Storm fans closer to the court, in this case, than ever before. I think the way we go about reporting the action needs to change as well.

And while all the extra coverage enhances the overall game experience, it sure puts reporters in a bind.

What can we bring to the table, what can we showcase to fans, that other outlets can’t – or, for that matter, haven’t?

I’m not going to pretend to have the answer to that. I don’t, and this weekend, I didn’t.

I do know that I got closer to the game than I ever had before, and I didn’t even have to leave my dorm room for it.