Friday, October 30, 2009

Greg Busch, Pioneer

When TigerBlog Jr. was one, TigerBlog decided to make a videotape of pictures set to music to commemorate the occasion. TB had to take the actual prints of the pictures he liked to a photo shop (not PhotoShop, as we think of it today) and have the project done there by someone else.

The result? A high pricetag and a VHS tape that is completely unusable today.

A few years later, TigerBlog was in charge of creating the video for the Princeton Varsity Club senior athlete banquet. Basically, it was a new project where each senior athlete got an action shot in a video, set to music. Again, TB's role was mostly organizational; someone else had to be paid to create the actual video tape.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more PVC banquets, and TigerBlog spent a great deal of time with Greg Busch, a former Princeton Department of Athletics assistant compliance director and current Associate Athletic Director at Rider, producing the senior-athlete video. By then, the technology existed to do the project somewhat in-house, but it was an arduous nightmare.

TB remembers one year when Busch spent basically the entire night before the banquet in the New Media Center, where the only computer with the right software was housed. By the next year, the program i-movie appeared on the computers at TigerBlog HQ, but it hardly made the process smooth.

Instead, a little pinwheel would turn for agonizingly long stretches at a time once the file got to be too large, and often the program would freeze. To TB and Greg Busch, it appeared that i-movie was taunting us.

Back then, and it was only three or four years ago, the PVC banquet project was a full-month headache. Today, i-movie has advanced a few versions and the memory on the computers at HQ has skyrocketed. TigerBlog put together the most recent PVC video in one day.

As an aside, it's never easy to pick the music for the video. TB likes to go with Bruce Springsteen, Train, Bon Jovi - TB's video; TB's music.

The big lesson that TigerBlog learned from Greg Busch was that creating video was relatively easy, once you got the hang of it and had the proper equipment. Beyond being easy to do, it was also a great outlet for creativity, perhaps the best one available these days.

TigerBlog used to think that a well-designed publication was a great expression of creativity in athletic communications. Even the webpage offers a chance to make something that is visually appealing.

But publications offer limited distribution, and their days are in varying states of being numbered (here at TB HQ, we've gone from being heavily invested in media guides to not doing them at all, and the world seems to have continued spinning).

And the options in video are going in the other direction, and what's most amazing is the ease with which these videos can be produced. In many ways, the tools available at HQ are the same as those used to edit Hollywood movies, and yet they're fairly easily mastered, once you get the Greg Busch message and get past being intimidated by it.

Back in the summer, TigerBlog wasn't as worried about not doing media guides as he was about not being able to produce the quantity of video that would be necessary to make goprincetontigers.tv a viable product.

That site is less than two months old, and the quantity and variety of content available has far exceeded TB's expectations. And, of the five-member staff at HQ, TigerBlog has by far done the least for the new site.

TigerBlog has sat in meetings of late where issues like video streaming, publications, TV and other mass media issues have been discussed, and TB can't help but chuckle about the futility of trying to make long-term decisions in a medium that is changing so fast and so furious.

But now, as Princeton athletics goes further and further down the path it planned last spring and summer - no media guides, limited print materials, and more and more multimedia, including TigerCast podcasting and all of the video - TigerBlog becomes more and more convinced it's the right way to go.

It's easy. It's cost-effective. It's fun to do. It's been incredibly well-received.

In some ways, we have Greg Busch to thank for it all. Maybe it doesn't erase the memory of the little pinwheel as it spun for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes - all as the clock raced past midnight.

Still, TigerBlog appreciates the lessons learned.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kickoff? It's Between Noon And 4

One of TigerBlog's favorite domestic chores is doing the laundry. There's nothing quite like knowing that everything you own is clean and that TB is free to wear any of his 20 or so official Nike-issue "Princeton Athletics" shirts.

Sadly, TB put the laundry into the dryer Sunday afternoon, went back to get it an hour later and found that it was still wet and that the dryer wasn't heating up properly. First thing Monday, TB made a service call to get the dryer fixed, and he was told the first available appointment was for Thursday and that his options were either "between eight and noon or noon and 4."

As anyone who has ever needed something fixed or delivered knows, the best you usually get is a four-hour window. TigerBlog has always wondered why this is, so he made three calls to three appliance service-oriented large chain stores to find out. As could be predicted, he got three different answers:
1) the service calls are outsourced, so it's up to the individual vendors to set their schedules each day
2) the store doesn't want to say a specific time and then have that time not be correct
3) it's the nature of the appliance service business

TigerBlog, like the rest of the world, is used to it, so it's just a part of life. Of course, it's not the nature of every business.

Athletics, for instance, operates on a little more precise time frame. Princeton plays Cornell in football Saturday, and the game is at 1. It probably wouldn't be a good marketing campaign to announce that kickoff is "between noon and 4" and then have people sit there from noon on waiting to see when it would start.

This weekend Princeton features a bunch of quality events. And, to show how customer-friendly we are, they all come with exact start times.

This weekend is the start of the fall/winter overlap, something that unlike the Central Jersey leaves won't peak for another 2-3 weeks. Still, the men's hockey team opens its regular season (about a month after the rest of Division I, by the way) with a pair of non-conference home games against Brown Friday at 4 and Yale Saturday at 7.

Those games are considered non-league games because Princeton will play those teams two other times during the regular season. The reason that the teams play non-league games is to start the regular season off on something of an equal footing, rather than playing against teams already in game shape after playing real games for four weeks already.

There are actually rare hockey doubleheaders at Baker Rink this weekend, as the women's team will play at 7 Friday against RPI and at 4 Saturday against Union.

There are four chances to watch Princeton play Cornell on campus this weekend. The field hockey team goes for at least a share of its fifth Ivy League title in a row (and what would be 14 of the last 15) Friday at 6, and then there are three events Saturday:
* football at 1
* women's soccer at 4
* men's soccer at 7

The women's soccer team hasn't given up a goal in 492 minutes and is 22-6-1 after Oct. 15 since 2004. The men's soccer team currently has a national RPI (not to be confused with the women's hockey opponent) of 10, which is a direct result of how strong Ivy League men's soccer is.

Then there's one of TigerBlog's favorite events of any year, the Heps cross country championships at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. The women's race begins at 11:15; the men's race is at 12:15.

If you're anywhere near, it's a great event to check out. Princeton has won the men's and women's races each of the last three years.

And that's the weekend schedule, complete with actual times. And a guarantee that when the event does start, you won't have to go through this again next week - after the part that needs to be ordered comes in.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thoughts From The Halfway Line

Back in the long-ago days when we here at TigerBlog HQ used to do something we called "media guides," pretty much every publication included language that Princeton was located at the midway point between New York City and Philadelphia.

Starting tonight, that distinction takes on even greater significance than letting college students on a bucolic campus know they have easy access to two great metropolitan areas. Starting tonight, Princeton is essentially the halfway point between the World Series opponents, the New York Yankees (evil) and the Philadelphia Phillies (reasonably good).

As an aside, it it TigerBlog's belief that 50 years from now, there will not be a World Series or Major League Baseball and that the most viewed sporting event (accessible via computer chips implanted in fingernails that allows the public to watch the event on their own internal mechanism) each year will be the championship game of Major League Lacrosse, to be played annually in front of 1,000,000 fans on a special stadium built on the international space station. Check back with TB in 2059 and congratulate him on being correct.

Anyway, back to Philadelphia and New York, it's actually 10 miles further to Yankee Stadium than Citizens' Bank Park, so the exact halfway point would be five miles up Route 1, around Raymond Road or so. Or maybe the Target in South Brunswick.

Still, it's close enough that there have been more than one media stories about it in the last few days.

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we have varying loyalties in Major League Baseball, including a Met fan who's going through a pretty rough time as his two least favorite teams play for the championship. There's also a Twins fan, a Dodgers fan and yes, a Yankees fan.

As for TigerBlog himself, he grew up rooting for the Mets but gave up on them when he moved to Hamilton Square in 1987 or so and couldn't get SportsChannel, which used to the cable home for the Mets (and no longer exists). That left his choices as the Yankees, Phillies and Braves, all of whom had all of their games on the local cable system.

TB chose the Braves because 1) he couldn't stand the Yankees, 2) he didn't usually root for Philly teams over New York teams and 3) MotherBlog had moved to Atlanta. This was in 1989, two years before the Braves went from being awful to being good. TB went to his first game at Fulton County Stadium in 1990, on a day when Tom Glavine lost to the Dodgers and about 10,000 people were in the stands.

As the Braves got better, TigerBlog got more into them. Looking back at those years, two things stand out. First was the night that TB went to a game in Atlanta while construction of the Olympic Stadium (now Turner Field) was going on, either in 1993 or 1994. During the construction, fans had to park downtown and be bused to the stadium, as there was no parking. After the game, 45,000 people or so had to wait on lines as buses pulled up, loaded and left for the parking areas. TB was shocked to find not a single pushing/shoving/cursing/escalating violence issue during the whole procedure; it was simply a huge line of people patiently waiting their turn.

Second, there was the time TB flew back to Philadelphia after visiting MotherBlog in the hospital, where she was battling what would turn out to be terminal cancer. MB had upgraded TigerBlog to first class (loved the hot towels), and it was pointed out to TB by the person sitting next to him that David Justice was on the same flight, across the aisle. TB told the stranger in the next seat about how he'd been visiting MB in the hospital and how David Justice was her favorite player. It led to this conversation:
Me: "It'd be great if he could send her something; that'd really lift her spirits."
Stranger On Plane: "Ask him to."
Me: "I don't want to be pushy."
Stranger On Plane: "Where can he go?"

So, with that logic, TigerBlog wrote a note about how MotherBlog was in Piedmont Hospital and how she watched all the games and how he was her favorite player and could he drop her a note, for which TB included MB's address. All the usual stuff. Later that night, MotherBlog called to say that David Justice had called her in the hospital and spoken to her for 20 minutes. He later sent her a package of Braves gifts, including a baseball autographed by about 15 members of the team and a tomahawk. TigerBlog has been a huge David Justice fan ever since.

Of course, eventually TBS went away from televising Braves games, and TB's interest in baseball began to wane. These days, his favorite teams are the Padres (Chris Young and Will Venable) and the Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf), neither of which made a run at the postseason.

As for this World Series, who is a Princeton fan to root for? Well, TB started by asking baseball coach Scott Bradley, who once played for the Yankees and is a regular at Yankees' Old-Timers' Day.

Bradley, though, likes everyone, so it's hard to get him to take sides. His basic comments were: "I just want it to go seven games and be close in the last inning and have someone have to get a big hit, like Chase Utley or Derek Jeter."

TigerBlog thinks the Yankees gave up on Ohlendorf too soon and that they'd be a better team right now had he taken Joba Chamberlain's spot in the rotation and had Chamberlain be the eighth-inning man all year. Plus, TB has never liked the Yankees.

As for the Phils, TB used to be a vendor at Veterans' Stadium, though he's never been a huge fan of the team. Still, TB will root for the Phillies for one reason: the team's TV play-by-play man, Tom McCarthy.

For those who don't remember, McCarthy used to call Princeton football and basketball on the radio, and he was the one behind the mic for the 1996 NCAA tournament win over UCLA and for the great 1997-98 season. He is an all-time favorite of basically anyone who's ever met him, and TigerBlog has had few better friends in his life than McCarthy. TB couldn't be happier that his career has skyrocketed, even if McCarthy was going to email TigerBlog a picture of his World Series ring from last year to put up here and forgot to.

As an aside, the only other time TB has ever flown first class was with McCarthy, when Princeton was coming back from Miami after playing Florida International (love the hot towels).

So, combining "Tom McCarthy" with "they gave up on Ohlendorf" and "a lifetime of hating the Yankees," TB is pulling for the Phils. And for a good, entertaining championship round.

After all, the day when the Major League Lacrosse championship wipes out the World Series is coming.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Play's The Thing

TigerBlog was watching NBC's "Football Night In America" Sunday night when he found Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison in a discussion (that included comments from Peyton Manning) about the famous catch that David Tyree of the Giants made in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against the Patriots two seasons ago.

TB immediately thought of a few points:
* Tyree should have been the MVP of the game on that catch alone, but when you add in that he also had a touchdown reception, how could he not have won it?
* that game was played almost 21 months ago, and yet the player who caught the winning pass in the game has already gone most of the way through another football season, shot himself in the thigh and is in prison
* no matter what happens to Team Good (the Giants) or if Teams Evil (the Eagles and Cowboys) win a championship in the next few years, that Super Bowl win more than makes up for it.

As an aside, if you google "David Tyree" and click on "images," you'll see about nine million different pictures of the same catch.

TigerBlog remembers watching on TV at the house of one of FatherBlog's friends when Franco Harris completed the "Immaculate Reception" for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 NFL playoffs. TB was a kid, and all the adults had left the room, leaving TB to watch the end by himself. None of the adults believed TB when he relayed what had happened, and of course, there was no internet or all-sports cable station to confirm what TB was saying.

TigerBlog also covered some of the greatest plays in NCAA basketball tournament history, including the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game, whose end is considered by many to be the great play in college basketball history.

TB has seen some amazing plays at amazing times, some that are helped by having great historical significance attached to them. Others are lost as just footnotes to meaningless games, such as the time Darryl Strawberry hit one off the clock in St. Louis.

Still, for TB's money, Tyree's catch is the greatest single play of all time, because of the catch itself and the job Eli Manning did getting the pass off in the first place. And everytime TB sees it, he becomes more amazed by it.

This leads, of course, to the question of what the single greatest play in Princeton athletic history is. That leads to an awful lot of possibilities, since there are probably tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of plays at Princeton each year.

There are some very famous ones from years ago, such as the 1935 football game against Dartmouth when a local cook jumped from the Palmer Stadium stands to join the Big Green line for one play. Or the fourth-down play near the goal line in 1922, when Princeton's "Team of Destiny" stopped Chicago en route to a perfect season and the national championship.

TB isn't sure if 1981 counts as years ago, but Bob Holly's winning touchdown run on the final play of the game to snap a 14-year losing streak against Yale has to be in the top 20.

Princeton's three greatest athletes of all-time are Hobey Baker, Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley, but TB thinks of them for their entire resume, rather for a single play. Talking about Bradley, his career was built on "A Sense of Where You Are," meaning that he always knew where he was on the court and had practiced each shot from each spot so many times that it became second nature. In that respect, picking any one single play would be somewhat insulting.

Besides, when great plays are discussed, they can come from anyone at any time, like Tyree in the Super Bowl. To that end, maybe the greatest play in Princeton history was Ed Persia's full-court heave at the buzzer to beat Monmouth in 2002.

TigerBlog has seen probably all but 10 of the last 315 games the Princeton men's lacrosse team has played. When he thinks of great plays, the first thought normally is of the four game-winning goals in overtime of NCAA championship games. Of those four, the best individual effort was the first one, when Andy Moe took the ball after the face-off to start the second OT and scored.

But when TB thinks of simply great plays, he doesn't think of those four. Maybe Moe's, but not he other three. They were great moments in big pressure situations, but not great plays on their own merits. If TB thinks of men's lacrosse, he goes back to either Jesse Hubbard's behind-the-back goal in the mud at Hobart in 1996 and the Chad Wiedmaier-to-John Cunningham longstick-t0-longstick goal against Hopkins a year ago.

Can TigerBlog go sport-by-sport and pick out great plays? No, because he hasn't seen them all. Each sport has its own, though.

So TigerBlog will end with three choices, two of which are quite possibly the most famous plays in Princeton history and the third that isn't something many remember.

First, there was obviously Gabe Lewullis' layup in the 1996 NCAA tournament to beat UCLA. For the combination of high profile, great play, history and everything else, this is without question the No. 1 play in the history of Princeton athletics.

Jeff Terrell's touchdown on a pitch from Rob Toresco in the second overtime against Penn in 2006 is also up there. TigerBlog was the PA announcer for the game, and he was on the phone with TB-Baltimore (who was at the soccer field) giving an update as Terrell took the pitch. TB doesn't remember word-for-word what he said, but it was something like "that's the most amazing play I've ever seen."

Lastly, there was Emily Behncke's goal against Harvard in women's soccer in 2004. Behncke scored with 41 seconds to go in regulation to tie that game; Princeton won on Esmeralda Negron's overtime goal. Behncke's goal was an amazing individual shot, but beyond that, it also ended a huge curse against the Crimson and propelled the Tigers to a run that would end in the NCAA Final Four.

Don't like TB's choices? He's pretty sure he left out some great ones that he should have remembered.

Don't like any that have happened yet at Princeton? Don't worry. There are thousands more on the way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stat Lines And Sprint Football

There's a guy who works in the business office named Ryan Yurko who looks 1) about 15 years old and 2) exactly like Chuck Yrigoyen, who used to work here at TigerBlog HQ back in the 1980s before moving on to the Ivy League office and finally on to the become the commissioner of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

As an aside, TigerBlog misses Chuck, who was about as universally liked as anyone TB has ever met. Not sure how he pulled it off; maybe it was just a lot of smiling.

Anyway, Ryan Yurko sent TigerBlog a link this morning to the box score for the game between his alma mater Ball State and Eastern Michigan this past Saturday. The stat line for this game is ridiculous, particularly:
* two players Ball State who rushed for at least 200 yards, including one who had 301 yards
* the winning points coming on a fourth quarter safety
* the fact that both teams were winless prior to the game
* the winning quarterback was 2 for 10 for one yard and one interception

Also, the AP recap is supposed to be pretty straight-forward, but hey, can there be some acknowledgement that it was a wild game? And maybe the mention of the fact that two players on the same team reached at least 200 rushing yards in the same game for the fourth time in Division I history and that a team had one 300-yard rusher and one 20o-yard rusher in the same game for the first time ever?

TigerBlog then forwarded that to TB-Baltimore, a big fan of stat lines, and he sent back the Navy-Wake Forest box. Navy, TB's favorite FBS team, won the game 13-10. The Mids ran 64 plays, all rushes, for 338 rushing yards. Navy did not attempt a pass.

The two box scores got TB thinking about great stat lines in Princeton history, of which there are so many. Perhaps TB's favorite was the men's basketball game against Niagara in 1997-98 when Princeton had 21 assists on 21 baskets. Or Nate Walton's line against Penn in the 2001 Ivy clincher: nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists, six steals. Or Mason Rocca against Georgetown in the 1999 NIT: six points, 18 rebounds.

In football, there was Michael Lerch's game against Brown in 1991, where he caught nine passes for 370 yards, with touchdowns of 64, 79, 90 and 45 yards.

TigerBlog also thought back to a sprint football game against Army a few years ago, and after a quick search on goprincetontigers.com, he found the recap from that night, complete with the headline "Army Tops Sprint Football 35-0 In Bizarre Game."

Bizarre? How about these numbers?:
* Princeton had a 42:17-17:43 edge in time of possession
* Princeton ran 94 plays; Army ran 37
* Army scored five touchdowns, all on plays of at least 66 yards

TigerBlog was at Princeton Stadium Friday night for the sprint football game against Mansfield. That game itself offered an amazing statistical background: After Mansfield had defeated Princeton 33-0 in the opener for both, the teams were a combined 0-8 against the other four teams in the league, having been outscored 352-7 during that time.

Princeton led the game Friday night 7-0 in the second quarter and 14-7 in the third. Had two plays gone differently (a fumbled punt and a third down conversion that went against Princeton), the game might have marked the end of Princeton's now-54 game CSFL losing streak.

It can't be easy to be a sprint football player, knowing that the odds are stacked against you off the bat by the presence of two service academies and the two Ivy schools with the largest enrollments, not to mention that addition of Mansfield, which appears to have a strong institutional commitment to fielding a competitive sprint football program.

Still, TB was impressed by how hard Princeton played Friday night, or indeed how hard Princeton plays every time he sees the sprint team. In all the years that TigerBlog has gone to sprint games, he's never seen a team going through the motions or a team that has given up, or even a team that isn't playing to win.

Sadly for the Tigers, they fell short 26-14 Friday night. TigerBlog would say that in the wake of a season in which Princeton has lost games by scores of 33-0, 57-0, 57-7, 44-0 and 42-0, the game Friday night offered the team a chance to walk off the field with its collective head held high.

But the sprint team does that after every game. Somewhere in what those guys go through is a lesson on character and the importance of sports. TB hopes that along with those two things, the sprint team can also get a win one of these days. They certainly deserve one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Love Your Body

The email came earlier this week with a subject line of "love your body day." It had been sent to the entire athletic department and quite possibly the entire University, and it was inviting people to be aware of the fact that this past Wednesday was to be "Love Your Body Day," an awareness event promoted by the NOW Foundation, part of the National Organization for Women.

TigerBlog has high self-esteem, so he's fine with his own body. Still, TB clicked on the link in the email, and he was a big fan of what he saw.

NOW Foundation's website had information about the event, which tackles an issue that TigerBlog strongly believes; namely, that mass media and pop culture send awful messages to young girls and women about body types and that these messages result in all kinds of terrible physical and mental health issues. The foundation site began with this text:
"Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads and television commercials reduce us to body parts -- lips, legs, breasts -- airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards. TV shows tell women and teenage girls that cosmetic surgery is good for self-esteem. Is it any wonder that 80% of U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance?"

It's an important issue on college campuses and especially in collegiate athletic departments. It's something that is taken extraordinarily seriously here at Princeton.

The athletic department has a strong commitment to what is generally known as "wellness," which obviously puts its emphasis on preventing problems before they happen. The University has a full-time staff of professionals under University Health who can deal with any number of issues, and the athletic department has direct access to among others a full-time dietitian.

There are also any number of people who come in and speak to Princeton athletes about issues such as drinking, drugs, depression and anything else that might become a serious issue.

The public face of Princeton athletics, or any college's athletics, is the games the teams play. To many, that's all they ever see of what goes on here, healthy young men and women wearing orange and black and competing for Princeton. Way more often than not, that's the case.

Still, TB has been in many meetings or spoken with many coaches and athletes about issues that have come up, and many of the stories are heartbreaking. And TigerBlog can't help but think that many of these problems begin by looking in magazines or on TV or at movies.

The messages that bombard little girls from an early age are astonishing. Maybe TB never paid really close attention to it before Little Miss TigerBlog came along, but he can see the effect that pop culture has on kids in elementary school. Or, if you don't think it's that big a deal, go to the next middle school football game that TigerBlog Jr. plays in and look at the 12- to 14-year-old girls walking around after school.

To be honest, it's frightening. Little Miss TigerBlog went for her annual checkup, found out that she weighed 74 pounds and got upset because most of the other girls in her school still weigh in the 60s. Forget that LMTB is off-the-charts tall and doesn't have an ounce of fat on her skinny frame. She was still upset about what she was told she weighed.

Why? Because that's what society is already telling her. Sadly, too many girls grow up and have these thoughts escalate until real problems exist.

The athletes at Princeton, especially the women, are lucky that they have the access to help that they have.

Love Your Body Day was this past Wednesday? It should be every day.

As for young girls, they should forget the "famous" women shown all over, the Kardashians and Magan Foxes and Real Housewives of Wherever.

Look here instead. And here. And here. And any number of other athletes here at Princeton. They are role models for the right reasons.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy 263rd Birthday

It doesn't take as long to read the morning paper anymore, not like it used to anyway. Still, there is something about opening the newspaper each day, and it's something that TigerBlog hears from any number of people whenever he talks about how upwards of 95% of reading of newspapers is now done online.

TB's own trip through the paper involves certain stops along the way: the front page, quick glance through sports, check on the local high school results, maybe a look at transactions, Rick Freeman's "Diamond Reflections," news columns, Dilbert and Doonesbury, the daily jumbles and this day in history. By that point, the day's Corn Flakes have been consumed, and that's that.

Every now and then, TigerBlog is struck by some fact in the "this day in history" section that stands out, and there was another one there today: 1746 - Princeton University is chartered as the College of New Jersey.

TigerBlog then began to wonder why some of the schools that were formulated around the same time became the education superpowers that they are today, while others went in other directions. To figure it out, he checked with two of his favorite authorities: Wikipedia, and University archivist Dan Linke.

According to Wikipedia, Princeton is one of nine "colonial" colleges in the United States, a definition given to colleges who were chartered before the Declaration of Independence. The list (in order of charter):
Harvard
William & Mary
Yale
University of West Philadelphia
Princeton
Columbia
Brown
Rutgers
Dartmouth

Of that group, only two - William & Mary and Dartmouth - were chartered under the same name they now use.

There is also another group that follows of colonial era charters:
St. John's College (Maryland)
Moravian
Delaware
Washington & Lee
College of Charleston
Salem College (chartered as "the Little Girls' School; try that today)
Dickinson
Hampton-Sydney
Union
Transylvania
Washington College

In other words, the first nine colleges chartered in the U.S. include seven schools that are currently in the Ivy League and two major public universities. The next 11 chartered include some high quality schools, but none that are on the level of the first nine.

For the answer to why, TB then turned to Linke, with an email that started out with "WARNING - DON'T SPEND ANY TIME ON THIS." Linke, and his predecessor Ben Primer, work in a fascinating place with a fascinating job: They are essentially giant fountains of information on anything to do with Princeton.

Linke's response included this: "I surmise one of the reasons would be money--as the oldest schools near centers of industry and finance, they had many students who went on to be captains of business and who then gave money to build the institution, which allows you to build labs and libraries and the like."

Ah, follow the money. As always.

As for Princeton, it was 118 years after its charter that the first intercollegiate athletic event in school history occured, a baseball game against Williams in 1864. It was 123 years after the charter that Princeton and Rutgers (two of the original nine) played the first college football game. It was 225 years before the first women's sporting event in school history, a field hockey game against Temple.

Princeton was at the forefront of pretty much every major advancement in intercollegiate athletics: the first football game, the establishment of the rules governing football, the formation of the NCAA itself. Princeton drew crowds that neared 100,000 for games against Yale and Harvard in various points around the Northeast more than a quarter-century before the National Football League came into existence.

TigerBlog can't help but think that Princeton's role in athletics helped it grow into the institution it is today. And again, seven of those first nine colleges are now equated with the academic greatness that goes along with being considered an Ivy League school, yet Ivy League is first and foremost an athletic distinction.

Today, as it turns 263, Princeton is recognized as one of the world's greatest universities. It has grown from those earliest days to become what it is today, a place that strives for excellence in everything it does, from eduction within its classrooms to the many areas outside of its classrooms, including the performing arts, alumni relations, public service and yes athletics.

TigerBlog often says that when you come to work every day here at HQ, it's easy to forget that we work in a place that many people pay to get into, in a place that was built primarily as a basketball arena.

That thought can be expanded to include the University as a whole. Those who work here come here every day, park their car, head into their office and maybe lose track of the fact that they are at a place that is so special.

So happy birthday Princeton. You look pretty good for 263.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

12th Precinct, Sgt. Yemana Speaking

One of TigerBlog's all-time favorite TV shows is "Barney Miller." For those who didn't watch primetime television from 1974-82, Barney himself was a New York City police captain who ran the 12th precinct. The show followed the day-to-day lives of Miller and a squad of detectives, whose members – Fish, Harris, Yemana, Chano, Wojo – are among the best characters in TV sitcom history.

As an aside, it is TigerBlog's contention that "Barney Miller" presented the most accurate view of police life of any cop show ever. The detectives left on calls with great uncertainty only to find it was usually nothing serious. They rarely drew their weapons, let alone used them. They didn't find themselves in life-and-death situations every show.

WGN, the channel from Chicago, has been showing reruns of some great old shows as its Sunday night lineup. Among the TB favorites that have been playing are "The Honeymooners," "WKRP in Cincinnati," "The Cosby Show," and "Newhart." As another aside, the last five minutes of the last episode of "Newhart" are as clever as anything TB has ever seen.

Anyway, TigerBlog watched the two episodes on the other night, both of which were from the mid-’70s. They were extraordinarily funny, of course, but there were two other things that stood out to TB as well.

First was watching a ’70s sitcom through modern-day eyes, which is always fascinating. No internet. No cell phones. No texting. No email. No computers. Rotary phones. There was a point in one of the episodes where evil "computer" declares Fish to be dead, so he can't get paid. The extent to which computers were looked upon as faceless, foreign machines was interesting and went along with how people thought back then, when humans were afraid of what computers were going to do every life rather than excited about what the possibilities were.

The second thing that jumped out at TB was the total political incorrectness of the show, which was considered to be a fairly progressive show at the time. There were jokes about pretty much every group imaginable, including gays, blacks, women and Asians that would never come close to flying today.

So what happened in the 30 years or so since Barney Miller was on TV? Societal evolution, that's what.

The advancement of college athletics, and specifically Princeton athletics, in that same time frame is remarkably similar, with one major exception. Much has been made of Title IX and the impact it's had on college athletics and opportunities for women, and there is no doubting that it has.

Still, TigerBlog wonders what Princeton athletics would look like today had Title IX never existed. And, nobody should misinterpret this in any way: TigerBlog is not criticizing Title IX or taking sides on the debate or any of that. TB is simply wondering how the landscape would look had the legislation not happened.

Princeton was new to having women on its campus, let alone women's athletic teams, when "Barney Miller" first aired. As TigerBlog has said before, those early women athletes were true pioneers who had to put up with all kinds of discrimination, just because they were women. It is because of the way that they persevered and showed how athletics could be just as important to women as to men that the ball toward real equality of opportunity began rolling.

At least TigerBlog suspects that's the case. Maybe it isn't. Maybe if it wasn't for Title IX, women's teams here would get the short end of practice times, facilities, schedules, communications, uniforms, everything.

It's probably true that the process would have been slower than it was without Title IX, but TigerBlog can't imagine that it's only because we're required by law to provide equal opportunity to men's and women's teams that we actually do so. TB would hope that those of us here at HQ are motivated by something a little better than "we have to" when it comes to these issues.

Back in the newspaper days, TigerBlog covered nearly as many women's events as men's events and wrote as many features on women as men. Why? Because it seemed like the right course of action.

If you go to goprincetontigers.com or goprincetontigers.tv, you'll see Websites that never once consider whether a sport is a men's sport or a women's sport. If you attended the weekly event meetings, you'd see that gender never enters the discussion.

So, again, would we have gotten here were it not for Title IX?

TigerBlog loved watching "Barney Miller" the other night, partly because of how funny it was and partly because it took TB back to another time. It was also obviously a long time ago, in a world that's changed considerably.

TB hopes we here at HQ and throughout college athletics would have changed along with it. But hey, who really knows?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Surprise

TigerBlog attended a surprise 80th birthday party for Harvey Yavener this past Sunday. As an aside, why surprise an 80-year-old?

Yav, for those who don't know, was a longtime sportswriter in Mercer County, first at the Trentonian and later for about 40 years at the Trenton Times. It is TigerBlog's contention that nobody ever has written more about Princeton athletics in a newspaper - and maybe anywhere - than Yav.

His actual 80th birthday is today. It comes less than a year since he formally retired.

TigerBlog wrote about Yav a year ago, when he turned 79, and TB won't repeat much of what was said then, other than giving another nod to Polly, with whom Yav has lived since 1959. There is, of course, a special place in heaven all picked out for Polly.

Yav's party was a mini-Trenton Times reunion of sorts. Jim Gauger, the sports editor at the paper from 1982 or so until his retirement last year, was there, as was Jed Weisberger, an assistant sports editor. Jim and Jed sat opposite Rick Freeman and his wife, Mary Ann Tarr, both longtime veterans at the paper who are still there. In many ways, it was like any number of nights in the newsroom, with the back-and-forth across the table.

TigerBlog sat next to Rider athletic director Don Harnum (whose brother Mike played basketball at Princeton under Pete Carril); TB and Don go back to his days as an assistant coach first at Trenton State and then at Rider.

Don was texting with Greg Busch, a Rider associate athletic director and former assistant compliance director (and soccer player) at Princeton.

It was a nice party, with a huge turnout of family members. The highlight, though, was when Yav began to speak.

"I always thought about 80 as just a number," he started. "Barring something unforeseen in the next 48 hours, I'll reach that number."

Then he talked about his grandfather and how he hadn't visited him much when he was a kid, but he did remember one time when his grandfather told him "never live to be 80." Yav went on to talk about how wrong his grandfather was and what it gift it is for him to be 80.

He poignantly talked about an old tradition in his days at the Trentonian of having the sports staff appear in a holiday card on Christmas Day in the paper. It was a small staff, he said, maybe five or six writers in most years. When Joe Logue, long the Trentonian sports editor, passed away a few years ago, it left Yav as the last remaining person from those pictures.

Why, Yav asked, did he get to be the last one? Then he said that it didn't matter why, that this is how it turned out, and it was his responsibility to treat each day as a "joy." And then, he went on to say that each day is a joy for him. He also said that there's no way he'd ever want to know how much more time he has, whether it be one more day or "30 more years; you're all invited to my 110th party," because each day itself is a joy.

It was an incredibly moving thing to say, one of the most genuine moments TigerBlog has ever heard from anywhere. TB has known Yav for 26 years and seen that side of him a few times, but for the most part it's been the gruffer side of Yav that has shown through.

Before Yav spoke, Polly's niece asked if there was anyone who had anything to say. The newspaper types all spoke, as did TigerBlog, who could have told about a thousand Yav stories. TB chose the one about the time when Yav had recently had surgery and he called TB up, which led to this exchange:
Yav: "Are you eating??"
TigerBlog: "No."
Yav: "Good. I need you to get over here and take Polly to the supermarket."

TB went on to talk about a day when he and Yav were setting the schedule for the next two weeks, as we always did. Yav suggested going to this game on this day and be in the office on this day and then "if you want, not a big deal, you can go to Rider women's basketball at Lehigh Wednesday night." TB replied that he'd pass, because he'd worked about 25 days in a row at that point.

"You're about 2,000 off the record," was his reply.

TB finished his talk by saying that here at TigerBlog HQ, our philosophies are a mix of those of the Princeton athletic department coupled with Yav's. Work hard. Have a sense of humor. Remember that what you're doing is first and foremost for the athletes and coaches (for a newspaper person, that wasn't always the standard line to take).

It was Yav who always believed that all sports should be treated equally, with no favoritism to "larger" sports. It was Yav who taught TB that the biggest squash match or crew race is just as big as the biggest football game.

It was Yav who always stressed the importance of telling the story of the athlete, of individualizing the athlete. Yav was so far ahead of the curve in terms of publicizing women's athletics that it often drew him chuckles from other writers who scoffed at him for those beliefs.

And yet in many ways, his beliefs are what goprincetontigers.com and goprincetontigers.tv are today. Yav liked to get to know the athletes (and coaches) and then tell their stories. TigerBlog has seen dozens of Princeton athletes spend 20, 30, 40 minutes talking to Yav and come away from the experience with an understanding that this hadn't been anything like a normal interview with an average sportswriter.

And Yav? He loved talking to Princeton athletes probably more than any other. He'd always come back to TB when he was done, shaking his head, marveling at what the athletes here were doing, how they carried themselves, how special they were. From the very first Princeton athletes TB saw Yav talk to (basketball players in the ’80s, probably, or possibly lacrosse player Justin Tortolani) all the way through the last one he would interview here, swimmer Alicia Aemisegger.

Yav mixed all of this in with an incredible work ethic, one that saw him work seven days a week for decades (always followed by a huge meal at one of his favorite restaurants; TB's birthday gift for Yav was a gift certificate to one them).

TigerBlog concluded by thanking Yav for being as important a professional influence and inspiration as anyone else has been. TB should have added "and friend" to that.

Happy 80th, Yav. Thanks for everything, and hopefully you have many days of joy in front of you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Opening Act

TigerBlog was a kid when the current Giants Stadium opened back in 1976 with a game between good (the Giants) and evil (the Cowboys), won by evil. The stadium was of course sold out for every game, and as TB watched the Giants on TV week after week, he wondered if he'd ever get to actually go to the new place.

Over the years, he's been there plenty of times, for football, soccer and concerts. And, last year, for lacrosse.

TigerBlog, and lacrosse fans, will not have to wait long to get a good, up-close look at the new stadium in the Meadowlands (which as an aside is apparently known as "Meadowlands Stadium" until someone pays for the naming rights), as the first event ever held there will be the Konica Minolta Big City Classic lacrosse tripleheader this coming April 10

Princeton will play Syracuse (who is trying to become the first team to win three straight NCAA titles since Princeton from 1996-98) in the third game that day, after Hofstra-Delaware actually becomes the first game ever played in the stadium and then Virginia and North Carolina meet up.

The 2010 season will be an extraordinarily interesting one for the Tigers, beginning with the opener on Feb. 27 against Hofstra. For those who have forgotten, Bill Tierney and David Metzbower have left the Princeton men's lacrosse program, Tierney to become the head coach at Denver. As another aside, Denver opens its season Feb. 19 at, of all places, Syracuse.

The transition of Princeton lacrosse from Tierney to Bates has been fairly smooth this fall, helped out by the return with Bates to Princeton of assistant coach Greg Raymond, who was on Tierney's staff for three years. The Tigers played for the first time under Bates last Thursday night against the English national team at Class of 1952 Stadium on a cold, rainy night, and Princeton then played against Delaware and Loyola at Delaware Saturday, again in cold and rain.

In many years, the schedule for lacrosse (and football) is basically the one from the year before, only with the home fields reversed. This won't be the case for men's lacrosse in 2010.

Gone is Canisius as the opening game. Gone from the schedule is Albany, whom Princeton played the last two years (scoring two goals in 2008 and 18 in 2009). Gone is a Tuesday night game against Penn. Gone is opening the league season against Yale. Gone is finishing the league season at Brown.

New to the schedule? Well, how about a March 16 trip to North Carolina and its potential national championship team, led by All-America attackman Billy Bitter, maybe the best player in the country. How about six Ivy regular-season games, all on Saturday?

And the biggest addition? The Ivy League tournament, which ironically had Bill Tierney as its primary driving force, debuts next spring for the men and the women. The teams (men and women) who win the regular season championship will be considered the Ivy League champion (or co-champion, if that's the case), but that title will not bring an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Instead, the team that wins the league tournament will get the automatic bid (but won't be considered Ivy champ unless it also won the regular season). The tournaments will be held at the site of the regular-season champ, meaning that it will probably be until the Saturday before that the location is known. The semifinals will be Friday, with the final Sunday. The women's tournament will be April 30/May 2; the men's a week later.

Princeton has a chance to be pretty good, even with the loss of eight seniors from last year's 13-3 team that shared the league title and made it to the NCAA quarterfinals but had bigger dreams in both areas squashed by Cornell.

The Tigers should have a very strong defense, led by captain Jeremy Hirsch and sophomores Chad Wiedmaier and Tyler Fiorito, and a solid offense, led by the McBride cousins, Jack and Chris.

TigerBlog stood under the tent at midfield for the scrimmage against the English team, at least for the first half. Much like football, it's a great spot to watch lacrosse from, though TB doesn't get to be there during the season.

Anyway, TB expected to find out somewhat shocking to see Princeton lacrosse without Bill Tierney and David Metzbower. Instead, much like the new orange practice pinnies, the new coach seemed to fit in perfectly, like nothing's changed.

And so, in no uncertain terms, Princeton lacrosse now belongs to Chris Bates. It starts for real next Feb. 27, with a pretty good schedule waiting for him and his first team.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TB-Baltimore Chimes In

TigerBlog has offered anyone who ever worked in TigerBlog HQ the opportunity to contribute. Today, TigerBlog-Baltimore (a.k.a. David Rosenfeld, who worked here as an intern in the mid-’90s and then again for five more years before leaving in 2008 to work in communications at the Gilman School). TB-Baltimore's favorite sport at Princeton was men's basketball, and he was the contact during his second stint here at HQ. After receiving a present in the mail, TB-Baltimore offers up these thoughts:

Tonight is Midnight Madness, which has become the traditional beginning of the Division I college basketball season at many schools. (Okay, it’s not at midnight anymore, but it’s still the same idea.)

Fans show up early; marketing and promotion staffs entertain them with contests, games and prizes. Eventually, out come the teams, men and women, to thunderous applause.

Some schools play short intrasquad scrimmages. Almost all have dunk contests with the men’s team. The coaches give motivational speeches to the crowd, urging for their support throughout the season.

As an aside, the Midnight Madness tradition began with TB-Baltimore's favorite college basketball team, the University of Maryland Terrapins (Fear the Turtle). Coach Lefty Driesell decided that his team should do a midnight mile run on the first day of practice in 1970. Two years later, one of his players asked Driesell if the team could have a midnight intrasquad scrimmage instead, and 8,000 people showed up. Maryland does Midnight Madness up pretty big; one of the highlights every year is the “Gary Williams Lookalike Contest,” when four or five students dress up like the head coach and imitate his well-known sideline mannerisms, all while the real Williams watches and “judges” the winner.

Princeton's experience with Midnight Madness is much tamer, but the unmistakable sounds of a new basketball season's approach will be obvious in Jadwin Gym as practices begin. As for an old season of Ivy League basketball, well, one is about to become a bit more famous.

"Outside the Limelight: Basketball in the Ivy League," written by Washington Post sportswriter Kathy Orton, will be released November 15.

Orton spent the 2005-06 season covering Ivy League basketball, coast-to-coast, and the result is a 240-page book in the vein of John Feinstein’s book on the Patriot League "The Last Amateurs." Feinstein, who sort of invented this genre with Season on the Brink and became very famous from it, is a colleague of Orton’s at the Post and wrote the foreword for Orton’s book.

The author was nice enough to send TB-Baltimore an advance copy, and it brought back lots of memories, both good and bad. Orton was there for Princeton’s 21-point performance against Monmouth, the lowest of low points, and for the season finale against Penn, when the Tigers won in overtime thanks to Justin Conway’s layup in the final seconds. It was a season of redemption for Princeton, which was 2-11 out of conference but finished 10-4 and in second place in the league.

TB-Baltimore also remembers specific times when Orton was around the Tigers, sitting on the floor for three hours during practice in a rec gym at Berkeley or during one her many one-on-one interviews with Scott Greenman, then the team’s senior captain and now an assistant coach. To his credit, then head coach Joe Scott was great about giving Orton that kind of access to the team, as were the rest of the league’s coaches.

Reading the book, TB-Baltimore tried to look at from the standpoint of an outsider. If you didn’t know anything about Ivy League basketball, what would be interesting about it? Two things stand out. One is the difficult Friday-Saturday night league schedule; the other is the lack of a postseason tournament. Nothing is easy when you play on back-to-back nights, sometimes with a four-hour bus ride between cities, and there’s no chance to make up for a disappointing finish with a miracle tournament run.

Some things about Ivy basketball are the same as every other league. The players practice and compete hard. They play on a high level, even against the highest-ranked teams in the country.

Some things are very different about Ivy basketball. Nobody’s on scholarship, no tutors travel with the team and no charter flights bring teams home after the games.

But the biggest difference between the Ivy League and any other league? It’s the hardest and most pressure-filled regular season in college basketball, and that’s what makes Ivy basketball interesting and Orton’s book worth reading.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soccer, Soccer And ... Lacrosse

It was a big soccer night for TigerBlog, first as the Princeton men tied St. John's 1-1 and then when the U.S. team tied Costa Rica 2-2 on a goal nearly five minutes into stoppage time to win the CONCACAF group in the final World Cup qualifier and send Costa Rica – apparently they're called "the Ticos" – into a play-in series with Uruguay.

As far as the Princeton game goes, the teams are now a remarkable 7-7-9 combined after the tie (that's win-loss-tie, not win-draw-loss as the soccer world seems to do it). St. John's is now 3-2-7, just two off the NCAA record for ties in a season with five games to play. For whatever reason, it seemed somewhat preordained that the game last night would end up in a tie, even if Princeton had more good chances and St. John's had a layup in the final five seconds of the second OT.

The U.S. tie felt much more like a win, as the Americans – coached by Princeton alum Bob Bradley – rallied with two goals in the final 20 minutes to win the group, though TB isn't sure there's any tangible benefit to winning the group. The U.S., for that matter, had already clinched qualifying for the World Cup by beating Honduras Saturday night.

Costa Rica, which TigerBlog hears is a tremendous vacation spot, needed a win to qualify outright last night, and it was just seconds away from getting it. Instead, it is Honduras, which defeated El Salvador last night, who gets the third bid from the region (along with the U.S. and Mexico) and Costa Rica who must now get in by beating Uruguay.

As an aside, the U.S. game again proved that soccer works better than any other sport right now on TV. No commercials, a two-hour window to watch it and not-so-overbearing announcers. Which other sport can claim that?

After the U.S. game ended on ESPN2 (which had been preceded by the Princeton-St. John's game on ESPNU), TB turned to the Fox Soccer Channel to see one of his favorite shows, "The Fox Soccer Report." It's not as good as the "Premier League Review Show," but it's up there.

Because the entire day had consisted of World Cup qualifiers, TB got the whole global perspective. There was the game in Poland between Poland and Slovakia that was played in a blizzard. There were some teams – none as heartbreakingly as Costa Rica – who just missed qualifying. There were two (Spain and the Netherlands) who finished with perfect records in European qualification.

And, to prove that everything can lead back to Princeton lacrosse, there was Ireland, who finished second in its group and advances to a play-in series as well. TB was rooting hard for Spain and Ireland after the men's lacrosse trip to those countries a year ago, and it's good to see Ireland still in the mix after having reached only one World Cup tournament since 1990. Ireland failed to qualify for the 2008 European championships, an event that was going on while Princeton was in Europe. To put it mildly, it seemed to TB like a big deal to the Europeans.

Princeton's trip to Europe included two games in Spain against the English national team and one in Ireland against the English U19 team. The English were extraordinarily friendly "lads," and their coaches and managers were as well.

The English love for lacrosse was personified by Ravi Sitlani, known to all as "Baggy." And it was Baggy who replied to TB's email the other day with "lookin' forward to it, mate."

And what was TB's email? It was about the reunion of Princeton lacrosse and England lacrosse set for tonight at 7:30 or so at Class of 1952 Stadium, as the English are in town as part of their U.S. tour in advance of the 2010 World Championships, which will be held in Baggy's hometown of Manchester. Baggy, by the way, was interviewed on Inside Lacrosse after the English played at Hopkins earlier in the week.

Princeton will be playing for the first time with Chris Bates as its head coach. There are 23 players on the Princeton roster who played against the English team in Spain (not counting Jack McBride, who didn't join the trip until the Ireland leg after playing for the U.S. U-19 team).

The scrimmage tonight is free and open to the public. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Either way, it'll be good to see Baggy and the rest of the English and of course some lacrosse.

After all, TigerBlog can't get by with just soccer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gently Down The Stream

TigerBlog would like to apologize to the people at "The Office" for doubting that they'd come up with a quality wedding episode for Jim and Pam last week. One of the best episodes of the show was the one where Phyllis got married, and yet TB thinks that the wedding of Jim and Pam topped it.

Certainly the scenes involving Andy were great. And Michael's interaction with the women in Pam's family. And anything with Dwight. It was a top 10 episode in the show's history, which is saying something.

Of course, it was on NBC at 9 last Thursday, which left it smack in the middle of Princeton-Colgate football. Not to worry. TB simply watched it Friday morning on his computer (while doing important work-related stuff at the same time, obviously).

This is the world we live in now. Can't see the show Thursday? Watch it on your computer whenever you want.

To those who have passed 30 or so, it wasn't always that way. TigerBlog remembers traveling with the Princeton men's basketball team on its Ivy League road trips back when he was in the newspaper business, which meant pulling out of Jadwin Gym after practice at around 7 or so and arriving at a hotel well after 11. In other words, it meant missing "Seinfeld" and "ER."

So what to do about it? Well, TB could set his VCR, but it seemed like having an available video cassette was always an issue. Plus, there was the whole issue of setting the VCR properly and not accidentally recording the wrong time or wrong channel. Or forgetting to do it in the first place.

TB was fortunate that his old roommate Jim Chesko was a bit, uh, consumed by recording every episode of many TV shows, and so Chet had his three VCRs going at the same time. He'd eventually edit the commercials out, and he'd have volume after volume of his favorite shoes, especially "Seinfeld," "The Larry Shandling Show" and "Friends." He also had great collections of live music he'd record from various sources.

Sadly, not everyone was as fortunate as TB was to live with Chet at the time. Besides, TB was evicted when Chet got married, leaving no access to the video collection - or Chet's two cats, Cybil and Lola, whom TB had grown to accept.

Fast forwarding nearly two decades, technology has long since rendered the VCR obsolete. Today, everything is available on your computer, or should be.

All of which brings us to TigerZone and Princeton's videostreaming efforts, as well as something of a education on priorities.

Princeton's earliest forays into videostreaming were basically about getting the local cable TV telecasts of Tiger football onto the earliest Webpage. It wasn't until maybe two years ago that videostreaming started in earnest, which is somewhat shocking to think about.

TigerBlog remembers a meeting two or three years ago with several coaches who wanted to go down the videostreaming path and TB's research into how hard it would be. The answer came back as "not very," and now not that far removed from those early meetings, Princeton (and every other school in the country) can videostream any event that originates from a site that has an ethernet connection.

The problem is that the more you're able to provide, the more that is expected of these productions. For the most part, videostreaming has consisted of using coaches' video, as opposed to a professional production with announcers and multiple cameras. Often, we here at HQ find ourselves at the mercy of the coaches and teams to find someone to run the camera; if not, there have been times where the camera stays as wide as possible and never moves (or, as in the case of a field hockey game, points only at one goal).

Still, as technology continues to advance, videostreaming will improve in quality. It's TigerBlog's contention that eventually it'll wipe out regular TV, with an ESPN360-type format being the norm.

The other issue is archiving the games, which is not a difficult task. It does, however, fall under the heading of many other tasks that people have to deal with that often get pushed away in favor of other, more interesting, projects.

The former director here at HQ is Kurt Kehl, who, by the way, celebrates his birthday today (it's also the 62nd anniversary of the day Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier). Kurt would always point out that the all-sports schedule that was printed here (back when we printed stuff) wasn't very glamorous but at the time was the publication with the highest quantity printed. In other words, so many more people would see the all sports schedule than, say, the men's lacrosse guide, but the idea of putting more of an effort into the schedule than the guide never entered TB's mind.

It's the same with archiving games. They're an afterthought compared with much of what goes on around here, but they are a huge part of what we do and more importantly a huge part of what people want to see.

It's easy to lose track of that fact in the day-to-day operation around HQ. It's easy to devote all of your time and all of your resources in certain directions, only to figure out in the end that it hasn't been a worthwhile allocation of those resources. At the same time, something as basic as archiving games goes a long way towards filling the needs of a large chunk of your constituents.

After all, it's 2009. If you want to watch Jim and Pam's wedding – or Princeton's most recent soccer games or any other event – it should be there for you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pop Quiz

You never know where your next abstract discussion of athletics is hiding, just waiting to pounce. In TigerBlog's case, it came up in the supermarket recently, in the dairy section.

That's where TigerBlog stumbled upon Marvin Bressler, the retired professor emeritus of sociology and the model for the Princeton Academic Athletic Fellows program. Dr. Bressler is also one of Pete Carril's best friends and a long, longtime observer of Tiger athletics.

The conversation started as TB saw Bressler furiously studying the nutritional content on a container of yogurt.

"You're 85 years old," TigerBlog said. "What do you care what's in it?"

Marv gave a quick laugh and started in about how he's more interested in the social statement his food choice is making than in its nutritional value. Then it was on to some other subjects.

It began with his thoughts about the Princeton-Colgate football game and went on for the next 20 minutes or so about Princeton coaches Roger Hughes and Sydney Johnson, who both pass Marv's "would you let your son play for them" test.

The main part of Marv's talk (lecture?) was about the nature of athletics and why people care about them. Why should he care so deeply, for instance, if the Phillies win or lose. He also said that when the Flyers were winning Stanley Cups in the 1970s and the entire city was fired up, he was asking what the big deal was that "our Canadians beat their Canadians."

TigerBlog has mentioned this before, but speaking with Bressler is a real treat. He is extremely verbose, but not in a sanctimonious way. He's more like life's graduate seminar professor: When you see him, you're almost always going to be left with a philosophical issue to debate with yourself.

In the dairy section, the pop quiz involved the reason why you root for a team. TB had no real answer to that other than entertainment or escapism or something like that, and he actually spent some of the day trying to figure it out.

TigerBlog's favorite pro team in any sport is by far is the Giants, a team that he has rooted for as long as he could remember and a team that has won three Super Bowls while TB has been a fan. The run two years ago to the championship would probably last TB forever if the Giants never win again.

Beyond that, TB has always been a Knicks' fan, though the last few years has made that nearly impossible. In baseball, his team early on was the Mets, but he switched to the Braves in 1990, the year before they started to get good, because 1) MotherBlog lived in Atlanta and 2) TB moved to Trenton, where he could not get Mets games anymore. His interest in the Braves lasted until TBS stopped showing the games, though it didn't hurt that the Braves were so good for so long and that David Justice, whom TB met on a plane trip from Atlanta to Philadelphia, called MotherBlog when she was in the hospital with terminal cancer and spoke with her for 20 minutes.

Anyway, between those teams, TigerBlog has had more than his share of moments where he had to have the "it's only sports; there are much more important things in life" talk with himself after tough losses. TB can understand being crushed by Princeton losses, where at least he knows the people involved, but Bressler is right: Why be so emotionally invested in something where you don't know any of the people involved?

Moving on from there, another big Bressler pop quiz is why universities field athletic teams, which leads to an argument Bressler has always said "he hopes to lose." The answer is actually much different at different schools on different levels, from raising the school's profile to history to habit to, of course, money.

Here at Princeton, it's often said and written that athletics are an extension of the overall educational mission of the institution. The interesting thing to TB is that we actually seem to mean it, and that's among the main reasons that we field athletic teams.

There are others, to be sure. Money, but way more through alumni contributions than from ticket sales, is a huge issue. Tradition is another. Princeton's athletic tradition runs so deep and is so ingrained in what the University is that it's impossible to conceive of it being any other way.

Which is, of course, a good thing. As TigerBlog has often said, the No. 1 point of identity for Princeton and the other seven schools is being called "the Ivy League." TB has heard any number of middle school parents talking about how great or unlikely or impossible or anything else it would be for their kids to go on to Ivy League schools.

And where did the term "Ivy League" come from? Right, it's an athletic designation.

So, there you have it, Dr. Bressler. TB's answers to today's pop quiz.

Now go home and eat your yogurt, and don't worry about the fat content.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Congrats To Bob Bradley

TigerBlog was flipping through the channels a few weeks ago when he stumbled on Bahrain-Saudi Arabia in their World Cup qualifier soccer game.

As the game approached the 90th minute with the score tied at 1-1, the announcers made it clear that a tie would send Bahrain on into the final play-in series, while Saudi Arabia needed a win to get the play-in spot. The one who didn't advance to the play-in would be eliminated from World Cup contention.

As an aside, TB was fascinated by the crowd shots, which showed no women in the stadium in Riyahd. TB also saw some of the first play-in game later on and was pretty sure there were no women in the crowd then either and wondered if the wives or female staff members or female media members with the New Zealand team were not permitted to attend.

Anyway, four minutes get added to stoppage time, and Saudi Arabia scores about 3:45 into those four minutes. This touches off a wild celebration that lasts nearly 10 minutes, but the ref makes play resume instead of calling the game at that point. Bahrain kicks off deep and gets a quick shot, which deflects off a Saudi defender for a corner kick.

As TigerBlog understands it, the refs will usually allow the corner kick before calling the game (would it be so hard to keep time on the scoreboard, and while we're at it, can we make it so you can't be offsides outside the box?), so Bahrain was able to take its corner. The result? Goal, and a 2-2 tie, so it was Bahrain that advanced to play New Zealand.

World Cup qualifying can have its bizarre moments. TB hasn't found one person, for instance, who can explain how the European groups are set up. Is it random? Some seeding? It's not geography, that's for sure.

For drama, though, it's been amazing to watch. It's somewhat like watching conference tournaments during college basketball season, only multiplied out to a few powers. The difference between qualifying and not qualifying for countries where soccer is so much a part of the national psyche is enormous.

There are currently 19 teams who have qualified for the 2010 World Cup, and the United States is one of them, after a 3-2 win over Honduras Saturday night that stunningly and shortsightedly was not shown on television in this country. Of the 19 teams that have qualified, the U.S. is one of six – along with Italy, Germany, Brazil, Spain and South Korea – to have made each of the last six World Cup tournaments.

Maybe this is a payoff for the army of kids who play soccer and how the soccer model with its travel teams and year-round play has completely changed the youth sports landscape in this country across almost every sport. Like many, TigerBlog has heard for decades that soccer was about to explode in this country, and to be honest it never really has, though it's certainly going down a bit of a different path the last few years.

TigerBlog – who had Cosmos season tickets at Giants Stadium back in the ’70s when that fad was playing out – attributes this to some smart marketing, advancing technology and good fortune. For starters, the soccer world has finally been able to get its great international stars to be recognizable figures in this country. Then there's the explosion of international soccer on American TV, especially the English Premier League. For TigerBlog's part, he could probably not have mentioned 10 players who played in the 2006 World Cup; now, less than four years later, he can probably name 10 times that many international soccer players.

And then there's the way soccer plays on television. It's a perfect fit, with no commercials and a two-hour window; it's completely unlike the way the NFL is determined to kill its golden goose with score-commercial-kickoff-commercial-play segments that spread three plays over six minutes or so. And don't get TB started on baseball, where a 0-0 baseball game in the sixth inning can reach the 2:30 mark, like last night's Yankees-Twins game did.

The head coach of the U.S. soccer team is of course Bob Bradley, a member of the Princeton Class of 1980. Bradley, the brother of current Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley, played at Princeton and later coached the Tigers to the 1993 Final Four.

He remains one of the most interesting people TigerBlog has met at Princeton. Back in the newspaper day, TigerBlog covered the 1993 team on its run to the Final Four, and he has never forgotten his talks with Bradley about his philosophies on coaching, on the sport of soccer, on college athletics in general.

Through the years, TB has seen Bradley a few times but not too often, and TB and Bradley were never what could be considered close. Still, Bradley has always greeted TB by name, with obvious memories of prior conversations and experiences, with genuine interest in how TB is doing.

As a rule, TigerBlog likes to root for the U.S. in international competition. For the most part, at least, though he's not over the top about it. And TB has never understood why he should care if Italy can beat the U.S. in luge in the Winter Olympics or if some guy he never met from Austria can dominate some guys he never met from this country in tennis. Still, Bradley makes it even easier to root for the USA, even more so next year in the World Cup.

The U.S. qualification started TigerBlog thinking about Princeton alums coaching internationally. There are any number of Princeton alums who coach in the college and pro ranks in this country in many different sports, and Princetonians have coached in the Olympics many times.

Still, TB was trying to think of a similar achievement on the international stage, of a Princeton alum coaching the U.S. national team in an event as big as the World Cup. TB can't think of many, if any, that trump this one.

So congratulations to Bob Bradley for guiding the U.S. through the very complex road of World Cup qualifying and into the field of 32 in South Africa next year.

TB will be watching and rooting. Why not? It only takes two hours.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Working OT

TigerBlog has a bookcase in his office that contains basically nothing but dust and some hard-bound books. One of the books contains every men's lacrosse media guide produced here at HQ; the other 25 or so contain the football game programs during each year going back to the 1980s.

TB broke out the 1996 binder this morning in search of something specific, which he found at the back of that year's Brown game program. Before getting to that, though, TB took a stroll down memory lane, which included some great stuff from Princeton Athletic News, Volume 64, No. 3, including:
* a story by Manish Mehta on Princeton offensive tackle Dave Maier; Manish is now "M.A." Mehta, who continues to write similar stories for the Star-Ledger
* a story about two other offensive linemen, Travis Pulliam and Jason Griffiths, which included the headline "Block Party;" the headline was probably written by Kurt Kehl, now Vice President of Communications for the Washington Capitals
* Two TB features about three of his all-time favorites from Princeton Athletics: women's basketball player Kim Allen, the subject of the "Tiger Tracks" feature that is still a staple of the game program, and a piece on Hank Towns and Cap Crossland of the equipment staff, reflecting on the old stadium in that's year's series "Palmer Memories"

Eventually, TB made it to the last page, where he found what in some ways was the forerunner of TigerBlog itself, an opinion piece entitled "The Last Word." This particular edition was written by TB-Baltimore, and it was entitled: "OT? Not for me, says this fan of college football." If TigerBlog is correct, it went on to win a CoSIDA writing contest award.

TB-Baltimore wrote about how in the first week of the first season with the OT rules, two of the four Ivy League games played went to overtime.

"What is it about ties in college football that precipitated the current overtime rule," he wrote, "a rule that breaks down a hard-fought battle between two evenly matched teams and turns it into the first-and-two-completions game you played as a kid?"

Pretty good stuff out of TB-Baltimore. No wonder he won an award.

As an aside, OT came to college football largely to protect coaches from having to explain why they played for a tie or a win.

Anyway, TigerBlog always thinks back to that piece whenever Princeton plays overtime, which it did for the 14th time when the Colgate-Princeton game was tied 7-7 after 60 minutes. Colgate ended up winning 21-14 in two OTs, leaving Princeton 7-7 in those 14 games.

It's not that TB is anti-overtime per se; it's that overtime and football don't go together so well.

Overtime is best in men's lacrosse, of course, when each second of the OT is dramatic and few OT games go past the first four-minute session. TB is not a fan of the women's lacrosse OT rule that says that the teams will play two three-minute periods regardless of how many goals are scored; OT should be sudden-death.

Baseball has a natural flow with extra-innings. Basketball overtime is two minutes too long for TB, but he can deal with it. Hockey? It's great for five minutes, after which a tie is fine, and postseason overtime hockey in college or the NHL is tremendous for its drama (unless it goes four overtimes or something like that). TB is no fan of the shootout.

Soccer on the college level has it right. Two 10-minute periods, sudden death. Drama, without getting tedious (except when it gets to the penalty kicks in the NCAA tournament; TB hates that). Of course, soccer on the college level has so many rules that are better than soccer on the international level, most notably reasonable substitution rules and most importantly a clock that is actually kept on the scoreboard for everyone to see.

Getting back to football, though, it's hard to figure out what's right. Is it the NFL, where the coin toss to start OT is so important? Is it the college way, which takes special teams basically out of the equation? The biggest problem with NFL overtime is that the end is so anti-climactic, since it's usually obvious that a team is setting up a chip-shot field goal or pounding it in from close.

At least in the college game, there is drama. Princeton scored a touchdown on its first possession, meaning that Colgate had to do likewise to force a second OT (which the Raiders did).

Given the choice between the current NFL and college formats, TB would choose the college one. Maybe if the NFL spotted the ball on the 20 and then flipped a coin, giving the winner the choice between offense and defense, the NFL format would be better.

TigerBlog's main objection to the college game is what it does to the final score and the stats. Last night's game was 7-7, which is indicative of a great defensive struggle, not 21-14, which is an average score. All the stats in the overtimes are somewhat tainted as well, though they count towards team and individual records.

Mostly, TB comes back to this: Princeton's last outright Ivy title was won with a 10-10 game against Dartmouth, and the most famous game in Ivy football history was a 29-29 epic between Harvard and Yale in 1968.

In other words, what's so bad about a tie?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mazel Tov, Jim And Pam

So Jim and Pam are getting married tonight? Ah, there's nothing like a great TV wedding. The woods are filled with them, some of which have been well done and most of which end up being 1) hokie and 2) the beginning of the end of the show.

As for "The Office," let's hope that this show is in the minority, the one that can stay funny after the big wedding episode.

Still, there's no reason to actually watch "The Office" tonight. First of all, this episode can't be nearly as funny as the one when Phyllis got married several seasons back. Second, if you really want to see it, it'll be online tomorrow.

And finally, you can't watch it because Princeton is playing Colgate in football on ESPNU at 7 p.m., so it'll be early in the second half of the game when the wedding starts.

Princeton is fortunate to have its ESPN deal, one that guarantees seven home events will be on one of the ESPN networks each year. In reality, we've had more than seven each year, because away events (usually lacrosse games) don't count towards the agreement.

The deal grew out of Princeton men's basketball's history of being on television, especially ESPN. Through the years, Princeton had great games on ESPN, beginning of course with the 1989 NCAA tournament opening round game against Georgetown and including games at North Carolina and Duke, in the Meadowlands, at Kansas, in Hawaii, in the postseason NIT and many others, even games from Jadwin.

Out of that contact grew our original ESPN arrangement, which has since been extended so that this is Year 2 of a new five-year deal. Who knows where TV will be in four more years and what technologies will exist then, but it's safe to say ESPN figures to still be a major part of any college sports landscape.

As for the people at ESPN, they've been very open to televising a variety of sports, including events like water polo and soccer (next week's game against St. John's is on). Hockey has been a strong newcomer to the agreement, with another game this January to be televised.

Basketball and lacrosse are key components of the schedule each year, as is the night football game. This is the fourth straight year that Princeton will have one of its home games on ESPN, and it moves to Thursday night after the previous three Friday night events.

TigerBlog is wary of doing too much to change schedules for TV, especially after seeing football games on the schedule on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Still, the opportunity for Princeton to have its game on in such a prominant spot, especially now that ESPNU continues to expand its availability, has been great for the athletes.

As for the game itself, it's easy to say No. 24 Colgate is a big favorite, but who knows? Princeton struggled a week ago against Columbia, but you're never as bad as you look when you lose and never as good as you look when you win.

Just as the woods are filled with TV weddings, they're also filled with teams written off the early season who came back to do just fine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going For 200

The official cereal of TigerBlog is Corn Flakes, which accounts for about 85% of the, oh, 10 million boxes of cereal TB has eaten in his life. Almost all of the rest has been Rice Krispies, though there have been brief flings with Golden Grahams, Frosted Cheerios, Apple Jacks and a few others.

As an aside, why do the cereal manufacturers insist on packaging their products inside plastic bags that cannot be opened without completely ripping apart the front, ensuring the cereal either falls into the bottom of the box or all over the counter when you try to pour it out?

Anyway, there was TB this morning, eating his Corn Flakes and reading the newspaper, when whose giant picture should be all over Page 1 of the sports section but Princeton High senior girls' soccer player Chantal Celestin?

Chantal is the older of Ron and Annette Celestin's two daughters, along with C.C., a freshman at Princeton High. Ron Celestin has been part of the women's soccer coaching staff at Princeton since 1995, Julie Shackford's first season as head coach.

Shackford has won 157 games at Princeton, more than any other men's or women's soccer coach in school history. Prior to that, she started the program at Carnegie Mellon and won 42 games there, giving her 199 for her career.

With one more victory, Shackford will become the 40th coach in Division I women's soccer history to reach the 200-victory mark for a career. Her winning percentage of .657 prior to this season ranked 34th all-time (TB didn't feel like adding up every active coach in the same general area as Shackford, so we'll go with the beginning of the season). The accomplishment is more impressive considering that at Carnegie Mellon her teams played only 15 games per year, and the 17 regular-season games Ivy schools play are also fewer than the rest of D-I.

Her first attempt at 200 wins comes Saturday afternoon at Brown. Milestones, by definition, usually fall fairly randomly in the history of an athlete or coach or team, and this time will be no different.

For Shackford, her biggest win is No. 157, the one that put Princeton into the 2004 NCAA Final Four. It is the only time an Ivy League team has reached the women's soccer Final Four and the only time any Ivy League team has reached the Final Four of a 64-team NCAA tournament, and it is the equal of any great athletic accomplishment at Princeton in the last 25 years or so.

Other big wins include 102 (first Ivy League title for the Tigers in 18 years), 116 (first NCAA win at Princeton for Shackford), 152 (2004 OT win over Harvard) and 195 (OT win over Penn for last year's Ivy title, the program's fifth in the last nine years).

They're all random numbers, but they were all huge wins, certainly bigger than No. 200 will be. Still, a milestone like the 200th win for a coach is as good a time as any to reflect on the coach and the program.

Princeton has had some great head coach-assistant coach combinations since TB has been around, combinations that were notable not only for their success but also for their ability to sustain it over many years. The two most notable, of course, were men's basketball with Pete Carril and Bill Carmody (17 year together) and Bill Tierney and David Metzbower in men's lacrosse (20 years together).

Now in its 15th season, the Shackford-Celestin combination is Princeton's second-longest current matchup of a head coach and an assistant coach (Bob Callahan and Neil Pomphrey in men's squash have been at it two more years). They were introduced at Ft. Dix, of all places, by current religion professor and Academic Athletic Fellow for the men's soccer team Jeff Stout, when Shackford was new to Princeton and recruiting at a tournament there and Celestin was working with his ODP team. Celestin, who had coached Princeton High to a state championship as its boys' coach, has been together with Shackford ever since.

As with any other head coach-assistant coach combination, their roles are much different, and it is Shackford (like Tierney, with whom she was very close) who has been the national Division I Coach of the Year, the one whose name appears in the NCAA record books, the one who talks to the media after the game, the one who speaks at the coaches' luncheons.

She is the first to credit her entire coaching staff for her success, including current assistants Scott Champ and Julio Vacacela and all of her former assistants. It's part of being a good head coach.

Still, there is a special closeness between Shackford and Celestin, forged over the years they've been together. They've seen each other through good times and bad, big wins and tough losses, deaths in the family, births of children and even the stroke that Celestin suffered two years ago.

Win No. 199 for Shackford came Monday night, when the Tigers defeated American 1-0 at Roberts Stadium. As is the case after most home games, Shackford's children Kayleigh, Keegan and Cameron hopped the fence to get onto the field, as did C.C. Celestin. For about the next half-hour, the three Shackford kids, all strong youth players, shot on C.C., who towered over them as the goalkeeper. Chantal stood off to the side and watched.

No. 200 will be a nice accomplishment, but ultimately it's just a number. Decades from now, when they look back on their time together, Shackford and Celestin will probably remember moments like after the game Monday night, when five kids who have literally grown up together as their parents rebuilt Princeton women's soccer and turned it into a national power played soccer on a practice field, a next generation united by their parents' unbreakable bond.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kid Cam

TigerBlog Jr. and his friend Matthew (a 12-year-old with size 12 shoes) strolled into the PA booth at Princeton Stadium Saturday afternoon before kickoff for the Princeton-Columbia football game.

They were ready to do their usual: eat, drink, wander around, come back, ask for money, eat more, watch the game, ask for more money, run around for the fifth quarter. It's pretty standard procedure by now.

This time, though, TigerBlog was one step ahead of them. How would they like to take the FlipCam and spend the game walking around the stadium interviewing kids? Put together a video for goprincetontigers.tv?

The video itself is filled with some cute moments, none cuter than when the shy little girl with the big blue eyes runs back to her mother and hides on her shoulder. If there is one that rivals that moment, it's when the little boy says he's going to get "popcorn and water."

There's also Matthew's brother William, who announces that No. 94 is his favorite player. No. 94, of course, is Kevin Sochovka, a promising freshman linebacker who has not played yet. And it was good to see how many little kids there were at the game, and it was nice to see how they warmed up to the camera.

Also, TBJ captured much of what goes on at Princeton football, with a good look at TigerTown and some footage from the sidelines, especially of the postgame handshake ("good sports," TBJ says in the background, "good sports.").

The most telling thing to TB about the video, though, is at the end, when TBJ is on the field for the fifth quarter. He asks three somewhat older kids (maybe in the 12-14 range) how they liked the game, how they like the fifth quarter. Then he asks if they're bummed that Princeton lost.

"Yeah, but it's still exciting," one of them says.

That, in a nutshell, is what we here at HQ are trying to accomplish as far as football marketing goes. It's a Trenton Thunder theory - get families to the game and provide them with a great atmosphere, and if the game is secondary to that, that's okay.

TigerBlog has always assumed that very few people who go to Thunder games know the players, know who won, know what the Major League affiliates are, know the standings of the Eastern League. They go for the event, for the atmosphere.

It's not 100% the same at Princeton football, because 1) there are five or six home games a year instead of 71 and 2) because the Ivy League football championship is a more tangible goal than the EL championship, where the issue is more on player development. Still, there is a great segment of the audience to whom we are marketing who are coming for the entertainment.

To that end, we are not competing against Rutgers or the NFL for ticket buyers. We're competing against the movies, against roller skating parties, against mini-golf, against trips to the shore, against an expensive dinner out. At least as it applies to the families who attend.

We're doing this with low ticket prices (lower than the movies, that's for sure), and with the kind of entertainment that TBJ got in his video.

Princeton lost to Columbia 38-0 Saturday. At physical therapy Monday morning, Sue greeted TigerBlog with a thank you for the tickets and a mention that Paige, her nine-year-old, loved the game and asked when they could go again.

That's a big part of what we're looking for here at HQ.

Monday, October 5, 2009

If They Won't Print You

This TigerBlogger recently read that his hockey team of choice, the Los Angeles Kings, hired its own beat reporter, a fellow named Rich Hammond who, until hired by the Kings, worked for the L.A. Daily News. Hammond will cover all things Kings for lakings.com, the team's Web site.

Of course, one of the first questions is, how can a writer be truly independent if his bill is being footed by the team he's supposed to cover? We'll get to that in a moment, but first let's touch on why the Kings hired their own writer and what this has to do with Princeton.

In the Los Angeles sports scene these days, there is Laker season and Laker offseason. That's pretty much it. Everything else is filler, sadly, even the Dodgers. A hockey team that hasn't won a playoff series since 2001? Not high on the list.

With newspapers cutting their staffs to bare bones, who's got the time or money to send a writer to Edmonton to cover a fifth-place team?

At Princeton, whether Tiger teams get coverage has little to do with win-loss record and almost everything to do with the sports climate in the state. New Jersey isn't a big college sports state, and with Princeton being a private school with students from all corners of the Earth rather than the state's main public university, coverage is further rationed with the way newspapers are today.

If you're not the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Phillies or Eagles, good luck getting on the front page of the sports section in the Garden State.

Rather than hoping for a squirt of ink from the local papers, the Princeton Athletic Communications office took to the Web a decade ago, cutting out the middleman. The Kings may have just hired their own writer, but Princeton Athletics has had a handful of people to cover games and bring them directly to interested readers since 1999.

Want to read about how the soccer game went? It'll be on GoPrincetonTigers.com before the bus is warm. Preview stories, video, on and on, we've got it here. It's content that outside media doesn't have the manpower to cover, but we do, and professional teams are figuring that out. Not satisfied with the coverage you're getting from the L.A. Times and ESPN.com? Cover yourself, yourself. You're able to get out the message you want, promoted as prominently as you want it in the kind of timely manner you want it displayed.

Can we be independent in what we write? Consider the difference in what we're asked to cover. We cover college kids who, as the NCAA commercials say, are likely to go pro in something other than sports. Typing up a column criticizing a 20 year-old from whatever sport when s/he goes back to the on-campus residence after the game to prepare for the next day's organic chemistry exam seems a little unnecessary. The Kings' writer is going to cover professional hockey players, most of whom have been preparing for life as a professional hockey player since before they could drive themselves to practice.

That said, the Internet provides a way for feedback, something you can exercise by clicking that comment button and sending us your thoughts. We haven't been shy about allowing criticism in the past.

So, as the professional teams pick up on the trend Princeton and many other universities began years ago, each Web site becomes its own little newspaper, digitally updated as the trend toward narrowcasting continues.

It's an era when the quaint New York Times slogan, "All The News That's Fit To Print" is as much of an anachronism as waiting until the morning paper hits your doorstep to find out the score.