Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Honoring Good Sports

Not to interrupt everyone basking in the glow of America's huge upset soccer win over Spain, but we have the latest awards from the Big South Conference...

The ballots have been scored for the spring Team Sportsmanship Awards and here are the results for the eight sports:

VMI earned the nod two times, once each for baseball and men's outdoor track.

GWU also got a pair of honors, coming in women's golf and women's tennis.

Joining them as a double-winner is Liberty, with awards in softball and men's golf.

The remaining two honors went to High Point (women's outdoor track) and Presbyterian (men's tennis).

For the 18 sports in the 2008-09 year overall, Liberty has merited five wins, VMI has received four awards and shared in two others, Gardner-Webb has won twice and shared twice, Presbyterian has two wins, High Point has won once and shared twice, and Radford has one win.

A final tabulation, taking into account all first, second, and third-place rankings for all sports will now be made, with the overall Big South Institutional Sportsmanship Award winner to be announced next week. This will be the fourth year for that honor, won all three previous years by VMI.

You may now resume your celebration for the US Soccer Team...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just Think About It

Two topics on my mind today to share, offer a little food for thought on a Monday...

First, for the sports appetite, be sure you've got your calendars properly marked for the start of football season, just over ten weeks away now. As I write this, we sit 73 days shy of the first Big South team hitting the field for 2009: Coastal Carolina, on the road at Kent State for a Thursday night game (9/3, 7pm). It's 75 days for the first big Saturday of the season (9/5), with all the other teams on the gridiron. Only two teams will be at home (VMI vs. Robert Morris, GWU vs. Mars Hill), leaving most of the teams traveling to either regional rivals (PC at Furman, SBU at Hofstra) or national powerhouses (Liberty at West Virginia, CSU at Florida).

And buckle your chinstraps--those last two games above won't be the only ones against the BCS conferences this season. On 9/19, CSU is at it again--this time at South Florida, while GWU wrangles with NC State. Later in the year, one has to ask if it's a trick or a treat that Coastal Carolina travels to Death Valley on Halloween to face Clemson. Of course, the schedule is littered with games against familiar Southern and Colonial foes (mainly prior to the start of Big South Conference play in October), so there will be many additional chances for Big South teams to test their mettle against foes from outside the Conference.

Excited yet? Yeah, me too!

Okay, on to the second topic for the day--and not to sound like Dennis Miller, but forgive me if I go on a bit of a rant here...

YES, we really want Twitter followers, and YES, we really want Facebook fans, and so on...

But NO, that doesn't mean that we're not screening who's coming in--come on, folks, if your Twitter feed only exists to promote content not suitable for college athletics, it won't pass the test. Now I'm certainly not talking about anyone's personal page that may have included an odd remark or photo once upon a time (just in case you were worried), I'm referring specifically to Twitter Spam that points back to sites or services involving one obvious vice or another. It's one thing if you have a business to promote and do so with occasional links from your feed--we support that--we're DOING that--here at the Big's another thing entirely for your "feed" to consist solely of one commercial-content link or an endless series of off-color promotional plugs with links taking you to places unknown.

I hope that makes sense. It's just part of our efforts to keep the Big South outlets fun and appropriate for our growing fanbase. We're still hoping to hit a thousand Facebook fans and as many Twitter followers as we can possibly get, but not by padding the numbers with poor choices. If we "block" anyone in error, or if you should find the Big South linked to something inappropriate as outlined here, just contact me in the Conference office (Mark Bryant) to clear things up, just that simple--thanks!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Behold the Power of Friday

So it's a Friday in June at the offices of the Big South Conference...what's going on?

Well, to be perfectly honest, not a whole lot. It's funny--there's a fairly narrow window of relative quiet between one year and the next, and we're in that space right now.

We run on a fiscal year and event calendar of July-June, so naturally there's some year-end wrap-up stuff, a little housekeeping and a little bookkeeping going on, as one would there are early preps for the year to come already in motion, but they're not yet up to full speed.

The phones don't ring and the e-mails don't flood the inbox quite the way they do with sports in-season. This time-frame is also when the vacations happen, so the office may be reduced in staff on any given day (like say, today).

All that said, the wheel does keep spinning--those slow preparations will start to pick up speed, particularly after the 4th of July, and the countdown to the fall will begin in earnest, especially with late July and the arrival of Football Media Days. It won't be long before the buzz is in the air again and the days overflow with activity once more (even when you know it's coming, it always seems like a switch gets thrown somewhere and you're off and running).

Nonetheless, a narrow window of relative quiet is better than no window at must find peace wherever/whenever one can (careful, approaching zen)...

Enough musings, here are two real news-notes for you:

Track & Field Athletes of the Year were announced today--
The Men's Award is shared by Liberty's Sam Chelanga and VMI's Donnie Cowart.
The Women's Award goes to the Charleston Southern 4x100 relay team (Dionne Gibson, Jessica Thomas, Misha Morris and Gabrielle Houston).

Look for lots of talk about Big South Women's Basketball this year, with the "Fantastic Fan Program" and support in the form of a grant from the NCAA!

Quick rant--where are our comments and feedback? C'mon, let us know you're out there!!! I know we could try to get more attention by throwing in some popular search terms, like "Next on Big South SHOUT: Lindsay Lohan tweets live updates on the Iranian election, Megan Fox visits Conan O'Brien to discuss Transformers, and the cast of Twilight tests the new iPhone before debating PETA's stance on Obama vs. the fly"...but we're not stooping to that level here, no sir!
Okay everybody, remember to follow us on Twitter--and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Will Blog for Feedback, Please Help

That's perhaps the next roadside sign of the information age.

Last week I attended a two-day conference on the growing role of video in collegiate sports, yet you know what the number one topic of discussion REALLY was at the "College Sports Video Summit"...?

Social media...what it is, where it's going, how to use it, and so on and so on...everybody practically needs a cyber-compass to figure out what direction to turn next...

Turns out it wasn't that long ago that colleges and conferences were actually being warned off of these new avenues of communication altogether, and now they're being told to jump in with both feet. Seems like every conversation, panel discussion, or speech began with the essential place video must play, particularly for web presence these days, but ended with what's happening on Twitter (and Facebook, the blogs, YouTube, and others).

Yeah, and "so what?" you may well ask.

Well, here's the thing: the next word that inevitably crept into these social media discussions was "monetization"--how can money be squeezed from this free-for-all frenzy? What will these sites come to look like and what will they deliver for both the source and the recipient in the future?

That's where we need you, dear reader (as the great Stan Lee would say).

YOUR FEEDBACK will help chart the next course for the online family of the Big South Conference. You need to keep these social media, well, SOCIAL! Give voice and direction to these outlets, or they could just turn out to be undifferentiated sites--and yes, likely with ads dropped on them or incorporated eventually, but without being very helpful to any of us if they don't develop their own momentum or sense of purpose...
So, what am I talking about here?

Our main website went online several years ago, of course, but in the last year and a half, it has gone from being an exclusive home base to being the flagship of a growing (and global) fleet.

Big South SHOUT, this very blog, has over a year under its belt from launching in early 2008, and may well be considered the first mate of this Conference that role, it's the ideal place to start this discussion... joined the fray primarily to allow another way for the "Best of the Best" 25th Anniversary videos to reach the public, but soon became a home to more... and the Big South Conference Facebook Fan Page arrived in quick order, rounding out the stable of what is now theoretically the "Mount Rushmore" of new media opportunities, particularly as regarded through the vague filter/label of "social media." Primary websites have graduated into traditional media in the eyes of some--you realize that the current generation has grown up entirely in the personal computer and internet age, don't you? At this point, younger readers naturally say, "Yeah, of course," while older generations may think, "Oh my, never really thought of it that way."

Okay, so we pretty much have the new baseline established--now it's all about "what's next"!!!

Main site: a redesign is in the works--is there anything in your opinion that must be added/removed or changed--what do YOU want out of, the Official Site of the Big South Conference?

SHOUT blog: this very forum--more opinions, more perspectives, more frequency (or less of any of those)? Tell us the dynamics you want by offering comments--and help support this venue by subscribing or bookmarking and reading, forwarding links, etc.

Twitter: a big one, just because it's growing so fast on all fronts...the obvious way to help is to follow BigSouthSports and encourage others to do the same--let's get the "following" number way up there so updates spread quickly, and again, let us know what you want more or less of from the Twitter feed.

Facebook: so far, we've been slow to generate "fans" of the Big South's Facebook page, so spread the word and help us get a bigger fanbase in advance of the coming seasons. We wanted to give the page one of the new Facebook custom username addresses, but we're WAY short of the thousand fans needed to make that happen--"Become a Fan" and help us reach one thousand!

YouTube: subscribe to BigSouthSports for updates to uploaded videos, comment on existing videos, post links to your favorites, help us generate some more activity and interest--and let us know what you want to see from our channel there.

Whew. I know...I was away for a few days, now I've come back, and thrown a lot of words out there...but seriously, it's been very quiet on the response side from all these fronts for a while. Without your feedback, we'll never know if we're on target or not. This is an open call for comments, posts, tweets, ratings--any/all of the above. We want you to share!

To borrow an immortal movie line ("The Breakfast Club"): "It's social--demented and sad, but social."

Without the interaction of our fans and friends throughout the Big South community, we'll still be "social," but it will become a lot closer to the "demented and sad" part. Don't let that happen!

Cheers to all--make it a great week!

This is Tuesday's midday SHOUT--out...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Web-O-Rama Goes to Camp

We haven't taken SHOUT through a tour of the Big South sites in a little while, so it looks like time for another edition of WEB-O-RAMA--today we are going to narrow the focus to SUMMER SPORTS CAMPS!

You heard me kids...

Yes, camp: baseball, softball, football, soccer, you name it, a number of schools and coaches are working on making some happy campers this month (most are in mid-late June, some trickle into July). The variety of camp offerings available is amazing (if not staggering), from some open to campers as young as four years old, up to others restricted to high school seniors...from those hosted by the head coach to others led by former players or professional camp services...and from those working with individual athletes to others geared toward teams.

Look for the Big South member in your area and your sport of interest for dates--here are just SOME of the links to help you on your way to upcoming summer camp information:

Charleston Southern: Baseball, Football, Basketball--Men - Women, Volleyball

Coastal Carolina: Baseball, Football, Basketball--Men - Women, Softball, Soccer--Men - Women

Gardner-Webb: Baseball, Football, Basketball--Men - Women, Soccer--Men - Women

High Point: Baseball / Basketball / Soccer (main info on one page)

Liberty: Baseball, Football, Basketball--Men - Women, Soccer--Men - Women, Wrestling

Presbyterian: Baseball, Football, Basketball--Men - Women, Softball, Soccer

Radford: Baseball, Basketball--Men - Women, Soccer--Men - Women, Softball, Volleyball

UNC Asheville: Baseball*, Basketball--Men - Women, Soccer, Volleyball

Winthrop: Baseball, Basketball--Men - Women, Soccer--Men - Women, Softball, Volleyball

* = updated information pending as of June 4th.

That's more than 50 links, so I'm all linked out now...hope you find the camp that fits you best!!!
More from SHOUT coming soon...