Any sports fan who doesn’t have the time or money to see their team live already understands the value of social media in keeping up with relevant news and results. Increasingly, academic institutions around the country are looking for ways to keep local fans similarly connected.
Now, fans don’t have to be at the school stadium on a Friday night in order to know every detail of every play. Instead, they can turn to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a number of specialized apps like Scorbitz and GameChanger and feel like they’re right in the middle of the action.
PJ Star’s Adam Duvall explains how these tools have been embraced by the Illinois High School Association to keep fans and athletes connected. The effort, which encompasses four Twitter accounts as well as a strong presence on other social media sites, is headed up by assistant executive director Matt Troha – who has his own Twitter account that invites praise and criticism of IHSA’s social media campaign.
By utilizing Twitter, Troha says he has hopes of schools statewide taking notice, because it is a good way to interact with not only the IHSA, but with fans of the school and from the rest of the state. Washington athletics director Herb Knoblauch is one administrator who approached Troha for advice on setting up a Twitter account. Knoblauch’s wife, Susie, works with Troha at the IHSA.
IHSA doesn’t just use technology to interact with fans, however. Recently the association started using the website called Hudl.com, which connects high school athletes and their coaches with college recruiters, allowing students to share videos, performance stats and game film with colleges. Scouts evaluating IHSA prospects now travel no further than their nearest computer to view information and get an idea about a student that used to require a lengthy trip.
If tidbits delivered 140 characters at a time aren’t enough, Troha has a solution for that, too. More than 100 IHSA member schools use the website IHSA.tv to stream their athletic events over the internet in real time. No time to watch events as they unfold? No problem. Schools like Illini Central even archive their broadcasts and make them available at any time.
The golf state finals in the fall will continue to push for more accurate and real-time updates, Troha says. The last two years, golfers reported their scores every four holes. A tournament worker then would relay those scores to be published to the IHSA website.
Troha says hole-by-hole updates at future state finals are a real possibility through “crowd-sourcing.” That might entail enlisting a coach, parent or fan to enter the information in real time.
“I think that’s something we’ll probably try and push a little bit more of,” he says. “We’re just trying to continue to be forward-thinking in those regards and kind of see what’s out there.”