Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who do you work for?

Who do you work for?

It seems like a simple question with a simple answer. And yet, it's not.

Obviously, the quick and easy answer is your employer, the person signing your paycheck. However, for us in sports information - as well as those in service industries (let's admit it, SIDs are in the service business), we do not only work for our employer.

In theory - at least in my caffeinated brain, SIDs work for those we come in contact with and deal with to some extent. It's a no brainer we work for our institutions as we try to ensure we highlight our athletics programs the best way possible. Still, there are largely two other groups we are in regular contact with whom we work should and must work for and with.

The media and our fellow SIDs.

(I realize these two are not the only ones we are in contact with. There are others such as coaches, student-athletes and parents, but those groups need to be handled with another different set of rules and guidelines and will be discussed another day.)

We need the media. We need them to be our friends. They can make our lives easier. Tick them off, and life can be heck.

Honestly, I do not think much time needs to be spent on how we need need to work with our media contacts. It ought be ingrained in us. After all, a large portion of what we do is media relations.

While the media is a vital group to our profession, I believe it is paramount that SIDs take care of one another. Period.

Though SIDs might have a different number of sports to watch over at varying ranks in the profession, we are all in the same boat.

I will never forget one of the first things long-time University of Tennessee SID and CoSIDA Hall of Famer Bud Ford said to me when I visited him and his staff one weekend to see how they run things for football.

"What we do here is no different than what you do at your place. We just do it at a much bigger scale." ~ Bud Ford
And that is so true. Tennessee did nothing different than what we do here at Union in regards to sports information. It was all identical to how we run things. Only difference was Tennessee does things on a much grander scale and has to cater to more people. For example, whereas I "might" go through a ream of paper to print off stats, the Tennessee staff debated amongst itself if they needed two or three CASES of paper.

While our audiences vary, how and what we do are essentially the same from one SID office to another. And though we work at different and possibly rival schools, SIDs are on the same team.

Who else understands and comprehends the stress, pressure and time constraints this profession places on us? Other than possibly our spouses, no one.

Think about all the work we have to do as SIDs. Can you list them all? Do you even want to try?

SIDs have an enormous workload, which is routinely bogged down with a lot of minutia such as inputting rosters in stat programs, double and triple checking opponents rosters, stats and records and so on and so forth. Then there's working on media guides. There is so much tedious work that goes into a single media guide one wonders how all SIDs aren't either gray or bald.

We have a lot to deal with in regards to working with one sport, but most SIDs have multiple sports to juggle at a time. And when it's crossover season, life is truly maddening. Here at Union, we have anywhere from 12 to 14 athletic programs going on at once during crossover season. And when I think of all the one-man shops that has to deal with all that on their own, I thank my AD for allowing me to have a full-time assistant.

With all this in mind, I believe it is vital SIDs work together. For example, in addition to sharing rosters for stat programs to save time on inputting, send along a common opponent's roster as well. If my team has already played a team yours is getting ready to face, why wouldn't I want to pass that roster along? Saves time, especially if it's a football roster.

SIDs should also feel free to call on their brethren for advice and guidance when faced with a new and/or unique situation. It is comforting to know that I have a host of SIDs friends I can call on if I need help and/or advice on something. This was never so true than in 2008 when our football team welcomed a highly-publicized transfer. He was a highly-sought after recruit who spent time at a couple of NCAA Division I programs, but he had a few run-ins with the law. Somehow, he ended up at our doorstep and our coaches welcomed him in. Before we officially accepted him into school, I researched his background and then called a couple NCAA Division I SID friends for advice on how to handle our new found 'attention.'

The advice I gleaned was priceless, and every bit of it was useful for within a week of this athlete's arrival, I was fielding calls from USA Today and ESPN as well as major daily newspapers from all over the southeastern part of the country.

I'm not sure I would have handled the situation as well as I did (though I admit I had a few bumps and glitches along the way) had I not be able to lean a few of my SID buddies for help.

As a side note, if you see a fellow SID struggling, offer to help them out. From my years working in the NAIA, it is easy to feel lost and alone. Sometimes, you don't realize that there is a better and/or easier way. Unfortunately, I have seen too many people just 'thrown into' the position of SID at some institutions knowing little to nothing of what needs to be done. As a veteran in the profession, I feel it is crucial to reach out to those who are new in the profession. When there is a new hire in our conference, I like to reach out to them, welcome them to the league and offer my assistance whenever they deem necessary. There's also an added bonus for me because sometimes this old dog can learn a new trick or two from the young pups.

Also, it ought to be common practice that stats at a minimum be sent to the opposing/visiting SID following a game. A release and photo would be a nice added bonus as well. Believe me, if I get a release, I'll use it. I'll likely reword the first couple paragraphs to make it work better on our website. But if I don't have to write a release, I won't.

Lastly, remember as SIDs we are not the ones competing. The teams are. Our job is to promote the programs, so try not to allow on-the-field rivalries get in the way of your SID relationships. Not going to lie, I'm guilty of some good-natured joking. Still, SIDs need not take loses to heart as well as not gloat or boast about victories.

Working in sports information is the best job in the world, in my humble opinion. While time-consuming and overwhelming at times, I can not think of anything else I'd rather be doing. And the journey is always better when in company with good friends.


  1. Nice post, Jay! I agree...we in the business are all in this together and need to support each other. We are all going to win some and we are all going to lose some. It's all about the relationships at the end of the day.

  2. Good thoughts, Jay. There is one group I feel I work for as well--the fans. More and more as our websites become interactive and full of multimedia, we are having to make sure we are giving the fans what they want as well.

  3. Chris, I agree with you as well. That will be my next post on this subject.