The Sports Information PerspectiveNot Just Teams Impacted by COVID-19, #UnitedAsOne Campaign
Monmouth, IL (03/26/2020) —
NOTE: The following is Monmouth College Sports Information Director Dan Nolan's behind-the-sports information-scenes perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has altered the landscape of not only college athletics, but sports worldwide.
When the news hit that college sports would be put on hold for the remainder of the academic year, one of my associates asked, "So what are you going to do with no sports?," assuming there would be a complete stoppage of work in the sports information office.
My immediate response was, "Work just 40 hours a week."
I was only half-joking, but for many of my SID colleagues - especially at the Division III level - it's a statement that rings true. Long hours, nights, weekends and holidays spent away from the family now seem like a lifetime ago, when the reality is, it's been just a couple of weeks.
When someone asks what the job is like, I explain it as trying to sprint the distance of a marathon. Seven-day work weeks are not uncommon. It's like your accelerator is stuck on full throttle.
Crossover season - that time of the year when the sports seasons overlap - is the most hectic time in the office, wrapping up one season while beginning the next and hoping your student-worker budget doesn't run out before May.
We were in the middle of winter-spring crossover season when the world changed.
Women's basketball had just completed just its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history and three men's track and field student-athletes were on site in North Carolina and ready to compete in the NCAA Championships. Baseball, softball and men's tennis were competing in Florida during spring break while men's golf was preparing to return from its Arizona trip. Men's and women's lacrosse and women's water polo's seasons were already in full spring swing.
Then, WHAM! The foot slammed on the brakes. Seasons over.
It hit like a ton of bricks. That feeling when you get up in the middle of the night and walk into the bedroom door your significant other has shut, unbeknownst to you.
Yeah, it felt like that.
There is still plenty to do. Record books need updated and the cancellation of NCAA championships noted (the record books are, after all, an historical document). Photos need filed, websites updated and the weekly Scots Scoop written, although it will be moving to an every-other-week proposition for the remainder of the semester.
That's not to mention the usual peripheral work that comes across the desk. Development needs athletic background on an alum, admission seeks next year's schedules to aid in event planning, new stats software to upload and test. You name it, sports information does it.
But there's still a void to fill.
I miss the sound of the ball hitting the mitt.
I miss the roar of the lacrosse crowd when Kara-Jade Gordon, Jeff Knapp or Thomas Van Alstine - or any Scot for that matter - blasts a shot into the cage.
I miss the sweet sound of a well-hit driver, although I've never been the originator of such a feat (I'm told it feels as good as it sounds).
I miss the rhythmic cadence of a tennis match.
I also miss my student-workers. We didn't get a chance to cover that "one last game." Gone is the opportunity to get an eye roll following one of my in-game "dad jokes."
Student-workers are the SID's team. During the school year, I'll see more of them in a given week than I do my wife. Turns out, I'm still married. Who knew?
Those kids become like family to the SIDs. We're interested in how they're doing academically, personally, and for those who also do double-duty as student-athletes, we'll ask how they're doing athletically….we ask, although we already know. That's our job.
We work together as a team, all equal moving parts. I never say they work FOR me, they work WITH me. From the camera operator on the webcasts to the play-by-play guys, the spotter calling the plays, the computer inputter, game clock operator and penalty box workers, we're all one team.
"We're all one team," was also the theme of the recent #UnitedAsOne campaign, the brainchild of Marc Jordan, former assistant sports information director at Tampa who's now at Texas. The campaign launched at 3:16 p.m. CDT on March 19, a week after the NCAA announced it was pulling the plug on all NCAA championships for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The cancellation was a blow to sports fanatics everywhere, but a move that needed to be made.
The NCAA put the student-athlete's health - the nation's health - ahead of financial gain. March Madness is a huge money maker for the NCAA and, as such, benefits all levels of the organization, from the largest DI programs to the smallest of DIII.
As the SID-inspired campaign #UnitedAsOne implores, we're all in this together.
We're not quite midway through the stay-in orders in Illinois, and I'm working from home. Not the most efficient way of doing my job, especially with a needy four-legged friend who wants out if she's in, and wants in if she's out.
It's a burden I'll gladly bear if it means we get ahead of COVID-19. That, in turn, may mean the resumption of athletics this fall and the return of the student-athletes and my student-workers. When I think about it and compare the sacrifices my parents' generation made for years during World War II, a few weeks' isolation is nothing.
We got this. #UnitedAsOne