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Departmental News, Sports Desk

Prep Sports Needs More Media Attention

Illinois High School Association

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Originally posted on the Sports Insanity blog on October 5, 2011
By Jake Leonard

In the past few years, high school sports (aka prep sports) has gotten less media coverage, especially in Illinois. If you’re not in a superconference like South Central,Sangamo, Western Illinois Valley (North & South), Central State Eight or Big 12, you pretty much won’t get the attention of any broadcast medium. You’re lucky if your score shows up on the 10 PM newscast.

Why do I say this? My high school alma mater hasn’t seen much media attention unless they’re in the IHSA Final Four. The most recent was the 2009-10 boys basketball team who lost in the finals. Did the local media cover it? Not one single local terrestrial radio station bothered to cover the Nokomis Redskins’ path to the championship game. That absolutely ticks me off.

Why does that tick me off? Anymore, terrestrial radio stations want MONEY from school districts to broadcast their games. They’ll broadcast games to those who have it and lots of it. Those conferences I mentioned? Not only do they have money, they have high enough attendance for their school districts that they’re ranked anywhere between 3A and 7A. (Note than most sports classify a school district’s attendance between 1A & 8A.)

The conference my high school is in? Once the largest conferences in the state, now becomes a seven-school conference after 9 years of being an eight-school conference, since 2003. In eleven years, we’ve gone from 1A to 3A due to two school districts consolidating their sports programs with ours due to budget issues. At the end of the athletic calendar in June 2012, North Macoupin (formerly Virden & Girard) and Pawnee leave for Sangamo after 30 years in the conference and Staunton & Gillespie returns to South Central after 2 years (original plan was for Nokomis to join them beginning in 2012-13, but SCC leadership backed out of the deal). This would leave Nokomis, Mt. Olive and Kincaid South Fork as the remaining conference schools.

There’s a silver lining – despite Bunker Hill’s attempts to rejoin the WIVC in 2012 earlier after leaving for the PSC in 2010, they’ll be back for their second season. Metro-East Lutheran out of Edwardsville, IL (2011-12: Independent), Marquette Catholic out of Alton, IL (2011-12: South Central) and Decatur Lutheran out of Decatur, IL (2011-12: no varsity squad w/ 1 varsity game, JV only) will be joining the conference.

Back to the original topic at hand: after the Homecoming between Nokomis and Mt. Olive, I got a message from an athletic director from one of the conference schools saying they heard about my Internet radio station and since they weren’t getting any broadcast attention, they wanted me to cover their games beginning in 2012. I was freaking out! How in the world am I going to pull this off? Equipment costs money, advertising and marketing costs money and the staff needed to pull this off costs money. And I don’t expect a single dime from the districts, because I’m not that kind of person.

What do you think?



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