Friday, September 11, 2009

Being a SID brings balance, perspective, appreciation

There's an interesting twist to being a sports information director, and it's one that some struggle with while others never get a grasp of it. Yet, it is a key component that separates the bad from the decent, the decent from the good and the good from the great.

A good SID must be able to separate him and/or herself from the game. Plain and simple.

While you work at and for a school, when it's game time, it's imperative that a SID be unbiased. The SID is not part of the action.

This is not an easy thing to do, believe me. And the longer you are at an institution, it can get even tougher.

Let me completely honest right here and now. I want Union College to win every single game, event, contest, race, match it participates in. PERIOD. Sure, I get my paycheck from Union, but I'm beginning my 11th year here and this is home to me. And who doesn't want their hometown team to win, right?

But as a SID, when the teams take the field and you your seat in the press box, you are to be impartial spectator and record the events as they truly happen, and not through the eyes of some biased party.

Can't tell you how much it burns me up when I get a story from a school and they blame the officials for a loss. Or how the host school will write this long release, but yet not mention anything about your student-athletes' performances. ("What? Was my team not there? Do you just compete against yourself?")

The role of the SID is to record the game as it happens - whether by keeping stats and/or writing the release, without injecting your personal opinion. Just stick to the facts, and in stats, be fair and consistent for both teams. For example, what's an assist for your team in basketball should be the same as an assist for the opponent.

I must give my wife Genople a lot of credit for helping find this balance. You see, while I am a Grade-A, certifiable sports nut/geek, she is not. Not in the least. Honestly, if by some horrific set of tragic events were to wipe out all sports from the universe, she would be fine with that.

From time to time, I would come home and complain at how none of the breaks went Union's way and how they should've and could've won the game.

My wife's response: "That's OK. It's only a game."

And I've come home ecstatic at how awesome Union played, how this was THE greatest game EVER and blah, blah, blah.

My wife's response: "That's nice. Glad to hear they did well."

That's nice?!?! It's ONLY a game?!?! That's blasphemy to the sports fan.

But that's the thing. As a SID, I can't be a fan. I am to check my fan hood at the press box door. (And truthfully, it is only a game. It's not a life or death situation.)

As much as I don't like to admit, my wife is right. It is only a game. And this perspective has opened up a new appreciation for sports and has enhanced my sports viewing pressure. (Which is something my wife probably didn't anticipate or intend.)

I can now watch a game between virtually any two teams and enjoy it - even between teams that prior to me spending so many years as a SID would've cared less about. I love sports and I appreciate a good game.

Yes, I do generally pull for a team when watching a game. That's just part of it and makes the game more enjoyable. But do I get distraught or upset if the team I'm pulling for loses. No. There's no sense it. It's not life and death stuff. It's just a game.

When I watch a game - that I'm not working, I try to appreciate and find greatest in the action. I look for good, solid effort, and I appreciate greatness when I see.

For example, I am a long-time Cubs fan. Been waiting for the Cubbies to return to the World Series for as long as I can remember. Yet, one of the players I will tune in and watch nearly every time his team is playing is Albert Pujols of the Cardinals - the Cubs' biggest rival. Pujols is just an amazing hitter and great first baseman. (And I'd trade the Cubbies' lone two World Series titles for Pujols.)

Also, I've never been much of a Yankees fan. But Derek Jeter is one of my favorite players. He just plays the right way, full effort all the time no matter what. I still love that play he made against Boston in 2004 when he went diving head first into the stands for a foul ball. That's a ballplayer, and that's what I want to watch on the field regardless of what uniforms the teams are wearing.

A game is to be enjoyed. So ... enjoy it. Enjoy the play on the field, the experience in the stands, the company you're with.

After all, it's only a game.

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