According to the National Governing Body for High School Sports (NFHS), participation in track and cross-country continues to show tremendous growth; ironically, less attention is given to them by the main stream media. Websites such as Flo-Track, Let’s Run, and MileSplit are outstanding, but they are largely unknown to the general public. If we want our sports to continue to grow and capture more attention in the sports world, we need to regain the press coverage that was the norm at one time.
Several years ago, the original Big East Conference held their indoor championship at the University of Akron. There was no publicity given to the meet by any Northeastern Ohio media outlet. I spoke with many “track people” who would have attended the meet which showcased an outstanding display of track talent, had they known about it.
Coaches need to work diligently with the press. Smaller, local newspapers are looking for good news about their high school teams, even when the larger papers may not make the sport of track a high priority. When the public is made aware, they are more likely to attend meets and give their support. The following are twelve ideas that can be used by coaches to assure that track and field receives the attention that it so rightly deserves.
1 – Establish a relationship with the sports editors of your local newspaper, television, and radio stations. Don’t just speak with them when an event is happening. Spend time talking about other sports, take an editor or sportscaster to lunch, attend another athletic event with them. Show respect and interest in the job that they have, and ask about the challenges they face.
2 – Plan a meeting before the season begins. Present a schedule of meets with starting times, a team roster, and information about this year’s team and last year’s accomplishments, including key team members who have graduated. Those graduates appreciate seeing their names and what they did.
3 – Prepare your thoughts and facts before this pre-season meeting. Point out returning athletes and their events, grade in school, past season accomplishments, thoughts on the upcoming year, keys to success for your team, names of captains, and the names and responsibilities of your assistants.
4 – ALWAYS report the results of your meets, win or lose.
5 – Ask when deadlines occur, what the best way to report results is (email/phone/hard copy dropped off at the sports desk), and who the contact person is.
6 – If the meet ends after the deadline, follow up and make sure that coverage is given the following day.
7 – Provide contact information about yourself with phone, e-mail, address, and the best times to contact you, both before and after meets.
8 – Always be accessible, even if you are busy. Invite the sports contact to practice. Do everything to make their job easier. ALWAYS respond to emails as soon as possible.
9 – Follow up after all meets to check if the correct information was received. I usually stop by the sports department, regardless of how late we return from a home meet, to make sure that the results were sent.
10 – Establish a trust relationship between the reporter and yourself. They expect and deserve honest and fair information. You expect the same from them.
11 – Invite reporters to your end-of-the season banquet. Recognize and thank them for the coverage that they gave your team.
12 – Always be courteous, appreciative, and respectful, regardless of the circumstances.
It is the responsibility of the coach to do everything possible to promote his or her sport. Consider the sports that were very obscure several years ago, and observe the amount of space that they have in newspapers today. Couple that with the mainstream sports, and it is easy to understand that everyone is competing for publicity and popularity.
Additionally, athletes and their families love to see and hear their names featured. It is obvious that we need to be more aggressive promoters. I can guarantee you that no one else will do it for us. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is an appropriate quote to remember, when looking for a reason to fulfill another important part of the coaching job.
Yours in track,
Read more of Rod O’Donnell’s Keeping Track articles on - www.runohio.com
Keep Track - Cross Country -
Keeping Track - Frank Shorter - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1219-keeping-track-frank-shorter
KEEPING TRACK, Two Iconic Coaches - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1181-keeping-track-two-iconic-coaches
KEEPING TRACK - Caldwell Story - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1114-keeping-track
KEEPING TRACK - Furman Elite Training Group -
Keeping Track - 2 Divisions for 120 Lacrosse teams? http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1064-keeping-track
Boy's Division II and Division III -http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1029-keeping-track
KEEPING TRACK - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/926-keeping-track
KEEPING TRACK - Football and Track Athletes - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/893-keeping-track-football-and-track-athletes
The Ohio High School Athletic Association State Cross-Country Championships - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/872-keeping-track
Cross Country - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/839-keeping-track
Track Faces Challenges that could have adverse effects thus causing severe damage - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/823-keeping-track
Marketing Track & Field - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/774-keeping-track
Student Athlete’s Questions - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/750-keeping-track-student-athletes-questions
The Need to Speak Up - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/714-keeping-track-
A new book by John McDonnell - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/701-keeping-track
KEEPING TRACK - From September-October 2013 print RUNOHIO - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/659-keeping-track-from-september-october-print-runohio
Random Thoughts - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/536-keeping-track
Another Division I institution has dropped its men’s track program - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/498-keeping-track
Ohio University Athletic Department's Worst Decision - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/497-keeping-track-ohio-university-athletic-departments-worst-decision
Life Lessons from Cross Country - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/140-life-lessons-from-cross-country
Ten Pledges for Cross Country Coaches - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/108-ten-pledges-for-cross-country-coaches
London Olympics - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news/419-keeping-track
Improving as a Coach – http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/322-keeping-track-1
You Only Go Around Once - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/3-keeping-track
Dear Jesse Owens – http://www.runohio.com/index.php/news/215-keeping-track
West Virginia State Cross Country Championship – http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/472-keeping-track
SPIRE Institute - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/160-keeping-track
Why is the OHSAA Treating Cross Country Different than All of the Other Sponsored Sports? http://runohio.com/index.php/features/838-why-is-the-ohsaa-treating-cross-country-different-than-all-of-the-other-sponsored-sports