The weather is turning and the students are starting to get more restless - especially the seniors!
Baseball is in full swing with region or district play and barreling straight to the playoffs.
Baseball season can be a grind. Our teams play three days a week often on a rotating between weeks that have two road games with a home game in the middle and weeks with two home games and a road sandwiched between. Baseball broadcasts at the high school level are some of the toughest because of the fact that you have to be aware of the dangers of the ball while you try to get that professional look. You also have to deal with the fact that autofocus is going to give you a great shot of the chainlink fence more often than it will give you the center fielder making the diving catch. With all of those factors in mind, the weather, the excitement, and the game make baseball great. As you head towards playoffs, make sure you have your crew trained and aware of the different schedule most teams will play during the playoffs.
Not only baseball is grinding right now. My students creativity has ground to a halt. The time between February and spring break is the worst time of the year for me in terms of student performance, behavior and overall likeability. The only downside to the program I have set up is that it relies so heavily on student performance and creativity. Last week, I received a video that was so terrible I could not share it as an example. Despite being shot well, with a variety of angles, varying perspectives, and all of the the things we crave as video teachers, it was pure white hot trash. I was upset that I had to watch it much less give it a score. If I described it to you, you would think I was lying. Here are the highlights - Spongebob, Ninja Turtles, dabbing, and more. This was to be used to promote our live broadcasts. It was worse than terrible. How did I handle it? I use videonot.es to give my students feedback on their projects. I did the same thing I always do: Gave real, honest feedback. The student didn’t take well to it because she thought it was funny. She asked me to show it to the class. I obliged. They laughed. Then they (emphasis on they, the students) explained that they were not laughing because of the commercial, they were laughing at the commercial. When the creative grind gets to be too much for the students, you have to let them find an escape. Every year about a week or so before spring break, I let up a little on the students. I actually plan for them to be horrible people the last week or so before spring break. Right now, my students have time to work on their capstone projects and get a head start on the next assignment.
April is also the time to start planning your graduation broadcasts. As someone that focuses on sports broadcasts, you are best prepared and equipped to handle graduations. Graduations can be a huge money maker for your program. In the past, we have done a lot of things to raise funds with graduations. We have set up a table to sell copies of the broadcast to family members in the stands. That was the least effective thing I have ever experienced and to be honest, It was incredibly frustrating because the money and the orders never lined up. We also worked out a deal with the graduation coordinator at the schools we serve and added $5 to every senior’s graduation fee in exchange for a copy of the graduation on DVD. Then we would spend the next week rotating DVDs every 7 minutes as we duplicated the master(s). This was great in terms of money because it was guaranteed but at the end of the summer, we would have to deal with what to do with the over 200 DVDs that didn’t get picked up…
This year, I am working to be more efficient and plan to sell one sponsor for the live broadcast of the graduations. The plan will be that the sponsor will be a part of the pre and post roll for the broadcast as well as will receive logo placement on the screen throughout the broadcast. I have wrestled with doing multiple sponsors but I am going to go for one sponsor and make it a big deal for them. We will use social media to promote the broadcast and the sponsorship. We probably won’t make as much money as we have in the past but in terms of efficiency, I believe we will come out on top. This will also give me another potential client to pull in for football!
Speaking of football. Now is the time to start setting up your relationships and plans for the fall sports. In Georgia, football schedules had to be submitted to the state at the end of February. This is amazing for for us because we can go ahead and make our plan. Obviously, we will concentrate on the cross-town rivalries but also we have to look at the opponents coming to town to determine what may be the best match up. This is often tough to do because of the parity of high school football and the fact that the fall off for a good team this year could be huge when they come to town next year. Last season, I picked a region matchup at one of our schools over the AA champions visiting our AAAAAAA school. The region game was horrid while the other was great (and would have garnered us more viewers as they were further away). It’s a gamble for us but you may not have to choose which to cover as you cover them all.
I also look at the calendar to see what falls on a Friday night next year in terms of holidays or celebrations. Halloween is usually a fun angle when it falls on a Friday. I try to go ahead and lay out plans for Veterans Day. It is usually late in the season (often the last week) and you have all of the kinks in the broadcast worked out so you can go some special stuff.
Don’t forget about the sports other than football. We have volleyball, cross-country, and softball to cover as well. I try to reach out to the coaches for these sports for several reasons, not the least of which is to find out if they are coming back next year. There seems to be more turnover in these sports than the others so I try not to be surprised when I show up in the fall and try to talk to someone that is no longer the coach. I also try to open the lines of communication with the athletic director so they feel like they can call in the summer if there are coaching changes.
The most important thing you can do in April is to go ahead and start planning for August/September. This will help you tremendously since we all know that May and June fly by faster than any other month on the calendar.
In May, I’ll share our plans for graduation as well as encourage you to shoot some summer sports!
Tom White is a video production teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers. GA. Tom is also the director of the Sports Broadcast Institute, which is One of Five Georgia Governor’s Innovation in Education award winning programs and the NFHS Network Best Overall Program. The Sports Broadcast Institute works to produce live broadcasts, newscasts, sports documentaries and more for the Three schools, Rockdale Co, Salem, and Heritage High schools, that the career academy serves. Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.