Friday, August 8, 2008

Football: 2008 Maryland Football Media Day

Last summer I got involved with the DC Sports Box through Al Santos and I really wanted to cover Maryland athletics in the Fall. I wanted to photograph Terrapin Football in particular due to the size of the players and the action in the game. Last summer when I attended the media day I was really hopeful that we would receive credentials to the Fall season.

When we were declined credentials for women's soccer games it became apparent that Maryland wasn't going to open the door for us. None the less I worked hard and attended a lot of events in the Fall and promoted the athletics program on our website. It paid off down the road as Maryland eventually opened up to us and offered us access to certain sports.

A full year later it's odd looking back on events and setting my eyes on what will happen in the future. Covering football games for the Terps would be a dream but if it isn't in our cards then that's ok too. This year I attended the annual media day for Maryland Football with a completely different mindset.

A few months ago we were contacted by a Maryland representative who inquired about our unique visitor count per month. We responded but were very perplexed by the request. After attending the media day this past week it makes sense: guideline #7 of the Maryland Football Media Criteria states that online entities must have at least 20k unique visitors per month. That's a lot, and we don't have it.

As a result I think we'll be declined for credentials this season (again).

The media day event seemed more subdued this year compared with last year. Last year the players were running around and there were probably dozens of media organizations. This year I think I counted 5 at the most on the field. None of the players were throwing the football around. They came out and posed for group photos, posed for individual photos, and just kinda hung around.

I took several group photos of the various players as well as a handful of individual shots. It didn't amount to very many exposures in the end ... maybe 150. Al and Dave hung out upstairs in the media room for most of the event. I was ok with that - the fact that I wasn't there alone put me into a different caliber of people. With the exception of Classic Photographers (a group contracted to shoot individual and team shots) none of the organizations had multiple photographers onsite. It says a lot that our group (DC Sports Box) had 3 photographers present, even if 2 of them were upstairs listening to Coach Friedgen talk.

Back in February I did a pretty extensive writeup of the 2008 Terps and previewed the opponents the Terrapins will face. It's a really long writeup and we decided to split it up over 3 separate articles to post on the website. The length of the article, in addition to the photos we published, grabbed the 3rd spot on Google News for the search phrase "Maryland Football". I was happy about that. As a result we got 500+ hits to the article.

After I posted the article I was contacted by another member of the staff who would like to do something similar for the Redskins. Whenever somebody wants to do some work for our organization I always encourage it but at the same time I thought to myself "too late." I wrote our article for Football back in February so that it was ready to go when the media day rolls around. We sent it along to the Maryland media folks and they were happy to see an in-depth article. At this point the Redskins are gearing up for their second pre-season game and we just found out that we were declined credentialed access (no surprise). If we had wanted to try to impress the Redskins franchise and try to make a play for access this Fall the time to do so would have been back in the Spring. Covering draft picks, off-season news, practice camp news, and pre-season events would demonstrate to the organization that we're serious about covering their team. Putting together a write-up after the pre-season has begun is good but I don't think it's going to help our case for obtaining credentialed access. Such is life I suppose ... some people fail to plan ahead.

It's sometimes frustrating to me to see our organization make mistakes like this because I feel as though I have foresight into our impending failures. We didn't do any Redskins coverage last year because we were declined access (nor did we do any Maryland Football coverage), so why would those organizations open up to us now? Maryland might since we've covered a lot of their Olympic sports but what's in it for the Skins? Not a whole lot. We're an unproven and untested organization and there are lots of proven and tested organizations out there that deserve access.

I often find myself trying to strike the balance between pushing people to reach beyond our current coverage scope today and not being too much of a hardass. How can I say to people in March "go write a post-season analysis" or "go do a draft preview"? I get pushback on things like that and little support from others on the staff. But then when the Fall comes around and we're farming for credentials it's easy to see why we are turned down at times. I see this with full clarity yet it is so foreign to so many people I work with. How can I help them understand?

So the bottom line with Maryland football is that I expect us to be declined access. I think that Al will be disappointed. I will be disappointed as well but it's not the end of the world to me. I'm really happy about that because last year it was a serious let down when we were turned down.

In the meantime please go read my 2008 Maryland Football PreSeason Preview over on the DC Sports Box. I also have lots of photos of Maryland football players and coaches (team shots) as well as individual pictures of Maryland football players at Byrd Stadium on my Flickr account.


Post a Comment