Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A test of morale

Obviously, the Minnehaha-DeLaSalle game didn't work out. The DeLaSalle coaches wouldn't give the green light. That makes two games we were turned away (although one was out of everyone's control) that would have made for great television. Calling games and streaming them online has turned into an experiment on human behavior. Given that I study behavioral patterns of people all the time, this is turning into a big learning experience.

Speaking of behavior, the cynicism I'm dealing with from my co-workers isn't helping my morale or interest in continuing high school broadcasts after this season. I spoke with Heinz about a game plan for the upcoming Central-South Twin Cities game (the fifth straight time the two teams will play each other and the eighth overall since 2005). Talk of the controversy about Tayler Hill's scoring record came up and I recited everything that was reported in local media outlets (every newspaper and TV station in the metro area). His response was that it was all made up.

I understand the need to obtain information, but when you're not available to get it, I don't feel that everyone else is making up quotes and other information that isn't correct, although the South A.D. did tell me the Pioneer Press made an error about the attendance of last night's South-Roosevelt game. TV stations get their ideas from newspapers frequently and vice-versa. It was accurate reporting (and lack of hometown bias) that busted the U of M men's basketball team years ago for academic fraud. Unfortunately, there are the Janet Cooks and Jayson Blairs that tarnish the reputation of the profession, but not everyone thinks of journalism as making it up. If we're talking cynicism, who's to say I'm not fabricating every detail I recite. I don't, but this is a potential danger of cynicism: you don't trust anyone. As such, he claims that I would be the first to reveal information about Tayler Hill's college selection process or the scoring record controversy (that will likely end in a few games). Sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm not.

Heinz has also commented on my reporting and interviewing style. While he has admitted that he does this sometimes to rile me up, I wonder if I have the right approach in the wrong field. Sports, by default, is designed to be entertaining. However, as I said in my last post, asking people what their favorite pizza topping is won't get you anywhere. I try to have fun with these people, but I always ask serious questions designed to make people think about themselves as players and as students. I have a limited amount of opportunities and don't want to give these people free passes. As such, I emphasize what's happening in the game since that's the most relevant piece of information. It's old by the time we televise, but if we were looking for pure entertainment, I'd be doing another type of show.

My naïvete or Heinz's lack of journalistic training could be altering both our perspectives, but I don't know if it's worth continuing to call games if the cycle of cynicism and obsession with entertainment versus breaking the story continues. When you're on the same beat as other reporters who have a bigger budget and resources available, the goal is to find a way to stand out from the others, which is what I've attempted once I became comfortable with doing play-by-play. However, you can't always get everything and have to trust the work of others when that happens. Everyone's looking for that break, but there is some team play that goes on in journalism and I feel I'm the only one who understands this.

Then again, given what's happened with some teams this year, perhaps there are few who actually care about how good reporters like me cover the field. Perhaps I'm stuck on an old-school model. Sometimes I wish I knew the answers without having to second-guess myself.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Osseo vs. St. Paul Central

Free throws were the difference in this game. Osseo couldn't buy a free throw late in the second half and those missed points cost them as Central pulled off a minor upset, winning 57-51. Fouls piled up on both sides and the small crowd was treated to an exciting basketball game. Theairra Taylor led all players with 19 points. Central needs to beat Highland one more time to lock their spot in the Twin Cities game. Given the fact that they beat Highland on the road, that shouldn't be a problem.

Broderick Bell returned and it felt like old times, except we're much more comfortable with each other than we were two years ago. His coaching duties occupy a lot of his time, but it was nice to actually have someone alongside; I've had a partner for just three games and the rest I've called solo. Is it a problem? No, but it gets a little lonely up there.

I also feel that I'm very comfortable with interviews. I did freeze up when I was chatting with Dani Mangen and Chiamaka Okonkwo of Osseo, but going off script has proved a wise idea so far. The flow with my interviews and open are much better. My coworker, Heinz, teases me about the lack of blondes I feature. I know he's pulling my leg, but I'm not seeking the shallow male sexist demographic.

He does the same with my interviews, as I usually will provide some background before I ask a question. There are times when this isn't possible, but adding some details emits the perception to others that the reporter wasn't plucked from the street and thrown in the fire, that they actually have an interest in what's going on. In any case, he's commented at length about the style of my questions, joking that I should ask them what their favorite pizza topping is. I know the game is over by the time it airs, and I know Heinz is joking, but I believe you're going to stand out for the wrong reasons if you're asking fluffy questions to subjects.

Two more games to go (if I can actually get a hold of DeLaSalle that is).

Next TV game:
Minnehaha Academy vs. DeLaSalle
February 14th, 6:00 p.m. at DeLaSalle

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Broadcast wrap-up: Jordan vs. Roosevelt, scheduling change

Sorry for the delay; the Super Bowl got my attention yesterday and preparations for Monday's game were minimal due to the quick turnaround. The broadcast almost didn't happen, but the situation was resolved.

Jordan got out early and never looked back, thanks to 24 first-half points from Brittany Chambers. Roosevelt's shooting woes cost them; they couldn't buy a basket. Boler is back, but it's clear she's not at full strength herself. Time will help her restore her playing abilities, but Roosevelt will have to play as a sleeper team rather than a favorite for the playoffs. Tyesha Wright was solid, but had no team support. Jordan won 82-60 and showed why they're the favorites to win the state title this time. Jordan is by far the goofiest team I've talked to, and I don't mean they're weird. Some players would "upstage" the person I was interviewing; Chambers at South and Dietel at Roosevelt, and I spotted that and somehow parlayed it into talking about the team chemistry. Perhaps I'm more comfortable in front of the camera after all. Jordan certainly is.

Our next TV game happens to be a scheduling change. In fact, there are two worth noting. The SPA/MPA doubleheader will not be televised as negotiations were unsuccessful. In its place are Osseo vs. Central at 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul Central, Central's last non-conference game of the season and Minnehaha Academy vs. DeLaSalle at DelaSalle on Valentine's Day. I will be back to normal postings this month.

Programs available for DVD purchase

Autism Part 1 DVD cover

Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)

What Are You DVD cover

What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15

Vices to Verses promo

From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15

Machine 2010 highlight promo

Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15


Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15