First, let’s state the obvious: You can now be your own news media.
Got a blog? A Twitter account? Then you’re the media. You may not have as big a megaphone as, say, the daily newspaper or the local television station but you’re still playing the same game.
And speaking of games . . . My son plays college baseball. This summer, he’s suiting up for the Roanoke Rails, a summer league team of college players in the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League. Their first game of the season was a doubleheader at home against the Carolina Pirates from Raleigh, N.C.
I had two big takeaways from the game. One, my son went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run, and accounted for half the Rails’ runs in their 4-3 win in the second game.
But more to the point for this site: I saw what might be called citizen-journalism sportscasting for the first time.
I was camped out on the front row of Kiwanis Field in Salem, Virginia. About midway through the second game, a woman affiliated with the other game came by and plugged in her tablet to the electrical socket on the light pole just inside the fence. I also heard her husband mention the curious phrase “live stream.”
When I inquired, it turns out she was using some software called “Gamechanger.” She was keeping score online, using a graphical display (see the photo below) — and fans back home in Carolina could follow along online. It looks very similar to the graphical displays that EPSN and Major League Baseball use on their sites; different look, but same concept. At one point, the woman asked one of the Pirates who was on deck if his parents were following the game online and he said something to the effect of “of course.”
So let’s think about this a moment. Here’s something that flies below the radar of most traditional news media. Case in point: The Rails have only gotten three very brief mentions in The Roanoke Times in their entire six-year history; when they played for the league championship last summer, it rated just all of three sentences. Still, these teams have players and those players have family and friends . . . and now they don’t have to rely on traditional media for coverage of the game. They have their own media — a fan with a tablet and an Internet connection is all it takes. (OK, a back-up power supply might help, too; apparently the first game drained most of the juice which is why she had to plug into the municipal grid.)
True, this is a labor of love, not one where the fan is trying to monetize the event (though the makers of the Gamechanger software are surely pocketing some money somewhere.) But . . . think about the potential here. A dedicated fan could do this for other games, too. There are surely restrictions you start running into if you try to do this at a professional game or a big-time college sports event. A fan tweeting play-by-play is one thing, but this takes things up to a different level. Hey, buddy, you in Row Six with the tablet, you’re outta here; we got contracts we have to uphold.
Anyway, the point is the technology now exists where an ordinary fan could essentially become their own sportscaster. How could someone monetize this, even if it’s just a low level? Think of a high school with a rabid sports following; some radio stations cover those in some markets. What happens if an entrepreneurial fan sets up his or her own website and rounds up some advertising sponsors to foot the bill to do this?