Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court NCAA v. Alstom.
This decision may be a return to the core of the academic experience that students often give up when playing sports, including access to services that help them persevere and earn a degree. The ruling should push the campus to resolve the issue of how universities recruit, academic support, and graduate athletes. In short, it is time for institutions to use their rhetoric when describing the academic benefits of interscholastic sports for student athletes.
For my correspondent colleagues, now is the ideal time to arrange a meeting to discuss what this decision means and does not mean for your marketing materials and intercollegiate sports and the language of the entire campus. In order to better fulfill the promises made to athletes and their families, even if they hang up their team uniforms, they are of value to our community, which also means that we need to broaden their experience. This includes breaking down silos and getting Sports Communications to work with the agency’s marketing communications office.
When arranging meetings with senior managers and sports leaders, I made a request to include a very important person in your work: don’t forget to include your sports information director. They have contact information, background and connections, which will be invaluable to you when you get involved in wording choices. Make sure you make the most of your SID expertise, as communication leads usually don’t do this.
The responsibilities of the sports information director go far beyond the understanding of the score and the starting lineup. They understand the language and tone that resonate most with coaches and student athletes, and they have a deep understanding of a group of donors, who may or may not be alumni, but are passionate about the organization through their athletic relationships. Our SID usually has a qualitative awareness of our organization’s image and reputation among community supporters and sponsors, and the central office can only determine it through research. Their political capital for the internal and external audiences of sports may be stronger than the political capital of the occupants of the central administration building for these audiences. As the newsroom shrinks, we see the boundaries between the sports page and the front page become blurred, and the content written by columnists goes beyond the traditional beat, but instead drives the clicks of multiple audiences. This includes the growing popularity of sports columnists among audiences who may not have read traditional sports columns.
If I did not notice that if we continue to operate separately, there will be real consequences, then I am dereliction of duty. We not only risk making track and field managers, coaches, athletes, and staff feel that the information targeted to them does not meet their goals, we also reduce the chance of information creating a sense of community and belonging throughout the campus in the future. I often hear that track and field is an island in itself, and the moat around the island is usually dug out by the campus and reinforced by a message we have about them that makes scholars oppose track and field. Although the affinity of athletes first depends on their sports, it is no different from the affinity of students to their academic units or projects of interest. SID can help maintain the language of the life-long relationship between student athletes and their sports, and allow to establish contact with their alma mater. There is no doubt that organizations will face huge risks by ignoring the power and potential of sports media coverage.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to join Erik Christianson (NCAA), Joe Galbraith (Clemson) And Ella Thor (New Jersey City University) On the panel Director of Sports Information, American Universityof Annual meeting. Our theme is “Communication and Public Affairs: Working with Agency Leaders to Develop Strategy and Information”. A question submitted to our team prevented me and my team members. The author pointed out that the recent exchanges with their central marketing and communications office made them feel “as if I had no value.” Obviously, this experience is not unusual among this group of people. If our campus communicators don’t think they are valuable, what is the overall effect of our campus communication work?
If there is time for us to learn from SID and learn with our SID, it is now. The Supreme Court’s decision is the first of many major announcements that we expect to exist in the gray area, including the reputation of the institution and the operation of athletics. Next comes the name, image, and portrait decision and/or status implementation, and we are only a few weeks away from the autumn campaign starting again in the new COVID-19 reality. Use this moment-and the Supreme Court’s decision-to strengthen your relationship with fellow athletics so that you are better prepared for this moment, maintain the reputation of your institution and better serve your student athletes. After all, we all have a lot of communication work in front of us.
Teresa Valerio Parrot is the principal TVP communication, A national public relations agency specializing in higher education.