Of all the things that being a sports information director has given to me, it is the love of gadgets. Especially technological gadgets.
Now, granted, most boys grow up playing video games and that's just an easy transition over to the hi-tech toys of today. But in all honesty, I didn't care for or fall in love with all those wonderful gadgets we have nowadays until much later in my life. (Although, there are some things I avoid and will explain later as to why.)
In an effort for full disclosure, prior to becoming a SID, I didn't much like the Internet. Had very little use for it and didn't want to do anything with it. Of course, the fact that I worked at a newspaper and my superiors were wanting us to double our efforts by not only put together a newspaper but also post everything online as well could have had something to do with that.
See, back in the day - you know like 10-12 years ago, posting stuff on the web was a huge chore. It took hours to do things that now take minutes. (By the way, 10-12 years in technology terms is like 100 years in normal terms.)
I didn't really get into the whole Internet thing until I got here at Union College since it's part of my job description to maintain and manage the athletic website. At first, it was a pain. The program I had to use was called Webber and I had to do everything in HTML code. For some tech whizzes, that's no big deal. But as a SID when time is of the essence, this was not very SID friendly.
You leave out or forget to put a comma or parentheses or period or quotation mark, or you put them in the wrong spot, everything is messed up. And then trying to find the mistake is a huge chore.
But after a year or two of Webber, I got an upgrade to MicroSoft FrontPage. Life was much better in that I could just lay things out like I do in putting together a media guide. Yet, there was still some time-consuming factors with FrontPage. For example, when I posted a news story, I had to change/edit about five or six different pages just for that one story.
But for the past two-plus years, we've been with SIDHelp and life has been grand. I can't tell you how much better life has been. Using the same example of posting a story, I can post a story and in a couple clicks, the story is posted and linked in all the appropriate categories/sections in a matter of mere seconds. Major updates and overhauls now take hours, maybe a day instead of days and sometimes weeks.
To be honest, posting a story on SIDHelp is really no different than posting this blog.
But that's not all.
I have fallen in love with Facebook and Twitter. Oh how I love those two sites. Love keeping up with friends and family as well as spread the word about Union athletics on Facebook. As for Twitter, it's been great for me to connect with media members and network with other SIDs. I get just about all my news - general as well as sports - via Twitter now.
And now I've found a new 'toy' - TweetDeck. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Do I ever love TweetDeck.
All TweetDeck does is allow me to keep up with both of my Twitter accounts and my Facebook account in ONE SPOT. And it alerts me every time there's an update with any one of them. Plus, I can update from TweetDeck in any one of the accounts and whatnot. (FYI, if I ever get diagnosed for A.D.D., this will be why. And I'll need more than a 12-step program to stop using this thing. LOL)
The cell phone is also my friend. My wife, at times, thinks I love it more than her, but the cell phone has become the office phone for the SID. (For those who didn't see my tweets last week, I cried when I couldn't move my contacts over to my new phone. Twas a very sad day. One that I'm still tore up about. LOL)
Along with the cell phone, I also have a Bluetooth earpiece. Got it primary for when I yack on the phone in the car, but I have found it very useful to wear when during games. No need to tie up the hands any more than you have to, right?
One thing I don't like about cell phones is texting. I HATE TEXTING, so much so I have it blocked on my phone so don't try texting me because I won't get it. This is my opinion, but I feel if you've got time to text me, you've got time to call me and tell me what you want to say.
I do like the idea of having the Internet and email on a cell phone, but I don't want it. Like I mentioned before, I'm on the phone enough as it is. Plus, I spend hours upon hours each day on my laptop. I don't want to be any more tied down to the Internet than I already am.
(If I do ever get the Internet on my phone, I WILL BE that dad on the Verizon commercial who tweets "I'm sitting on the patio".)
One "knock" about SIDs is how we generally resist change. But let's be honest, who doesn't resist change in one form or fashion? We're comfortable, we've a routine down, why do we have to mix it up?
Change is good.
Now, I'm not talking about changing things just to change it up. But real change is good. When you can improve things, why wouldn't you want to do it?
I'm in my 11th year of being a SID, and there is no way I want to go back to how I had to do things when I first started. For example, I used to have to fax everything. Box scores, press releases, EVERYTHING!!! And it would take over an hour sometimes. And I hated having to come into the office wait on a box score to be faxed.
Nowadays, it's all email for me. I can't tell you the last time I faxed something. And for those places that still insist on faxing me, I have a fax number that when called will send me the info in a PDF document to my email.
As a SID, I try to embrace change, not fight. (Well, I do now. I'll admit that I used to fight it.) The technological changes we've experienced over the last couple of decades have made life better for the most part for the SID. That sad, it has added a lot of pressure and demands on us. For example, with the Internet, if a result or story is not up within minutes following the completion of a game, people wonder what's going on.
I was fortunate enough to get to spend a weekend with Bud Ford, the head SID at University of Tennessee, during the 2006 football season. I wanted to see what life was like at the NCAA Division I level on a football weekend. To be honest, it's not much different that what I go through here in the NAIA. The only difference is that at Tennessee - and other NCAA Division I schools, it's on a much, much bigger scale. (For example, I might use one ream of paper during a football game where as Tennessee will go through two or three cases of paper.)
In spending time with Mr. Ford, he shared with me a lot about the profession and how it's changed during his time. He has been in the business over 40 years, and back then, they had to type everything and then dictate stories to newspapers over the phone. This was before the fax machine and forget about email.
I'll be honest, I'm not sure I would be a SID if I grew up back then. I need my gadgets.