Extra Points: Brian Spano 10/14

Brian Spano

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Staff Writer
Posted: October 14, 2010 - 8:28 PM

Just how popular is high school football?


Well consider this: as little as five years ago, many high school football teams were not represented on the Information Superhighway through blogs, tweets, Facebook, texts or streaming video. Today, as we are neck-deep in the social media revolution, most high school football programs have some sort of presence on the World Wide Web.


Take for instance Blue Springs High School football. The Wildcats have their own stand-alone Web site at www.bshsfootball.com that offers everything you need to know about Blue Springs football, and then some. They also have a designated person sending tweets through Twitter to give followers in-game updates.

People need to know, and they need to know now.


Then there’s the Gardner-Edgerton football Web site found at www.gardneredgertonfootball.com. It opens with an up-to-date highlight video of the 2010 season. It also includes a slick newsletter on the team called “The Blazer.” And, oh yeah, they tweet as well.


At www.tonkafootball.com you can find information on everything Winnetonka football related. First-year head coach Sterling Edwards does the tweeting. His messages aren’t so much about scoring updates as they are about getting timely information out to players and fans about the team’s upcoming game.


Merle Bowers tweets for the Raytown South Cardinal football team. Although it isn’t an official Twitter account of the school or the Raytown school district for that matter, he did get approval to provide updates to his followers.


“I would be at the games, and a lot of people would ask if I would send them a text, so I started tweeting, and told them to get on Twitter,” Bowers said. “With the phone I had, it was hard to enter a lot of phone numbers, and it was hard to text a lot of people. So I said do it on Twitter, and you can hook it to your mobile phone, and that got a few people following me.”


Bowers’ Twitter account, called @southsidesports, promotes all things Raytown South sports, but with the success of the Cardinals football program over the last few years, interest has been riding high.


“I know that there are a lot of Raytown South fans out there,” Bowers said of his tweeting. “I don’t know that I have a lot of followers yet from alumni, and I’m really trying to work on that.”


With all of the Twitter accounts and Facebook pages out there, there is another way schools are bringing football to the masses, and it’s through live Internet broadcasts or streaming audio or video from the games.


Elaine McDonald, broadcast journalism teacher at Lee’s Summit, has a group of students that sets up these broadcasts, home and away, for Tiger football games.


“Within the journalism course, we are really trying to get the Web streaming component up where the kids are getting experience calling games,” McDonald said. “A couple of years ago, we started by going through the radio within the stadium, where the kids were actually calling the game. They would have a radio transmitter, field mics, set up with a mixing board and then it would transmit inside the stadium.”


The next progression for McDonald and her students was to move to the Internet to stream games to Lee’s Summit fans.


“We go through ustream.com and slowly but surely, viewers have increased,” she said. “The first week we did it, we had about four viewers. The next week was like 12 viewers.”


So for the fans that aren’t able to make it to these games, it is brought to them through Web streaming on their computer; however, if fans have the capability to listen through their smartphones, they could hear the broadcast while at the game.


“The feedback we get has mostly been from parents that tell us things like the audio went down, which is good for us so we know what we need to work on,” said McDonald. “It also helps because the kids have limited experience troubleshooting when things do go down because it’s not something that they work in everyday.”


As the months, years and decades pass, technology will continue to evolve. While that has altered the way we currently view our high school football teams, what we are witnessing today is just the beginning.