Friday, January 13, 2012


For the last two days, TigerBlog has focused on what the future of writing - in sports in general and specifically to college websites - may or may not be.

Of one thing though, who is positive.

The more video, the better.

TigerBlog was certain of this before he watched the four-part series "24/7," which recently aired on HBO.

The documentary, which centered on the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers in the lead-up to the Winter Classic game played at Citizens' Bank Park on Jan. 2, cemented this point.

"24/7" was extraordinary in many ways, all of which take a backseat to the amazing level of access and candor that it was able to be granted. Nothing, it seemed, was off limits.

Beyond that, it seemed like the coaches and players embraced the access, either that or got used to it so quickly that they didn't even notice that cameras and crews were everywhere.

TigerBlog thought if any one area was embellished, it was in the cursing, which rivaled movies like "Goodfellas" and "Casino" for unending use of the F-bomb.

And if he had a complaint, it was with the fact that every scene that showed the players getting off a bus and walking to a lockerroom was done in the obligatory slow-motion, which makes the people walking look super cool.

Beyond that, it was an amazing look into the lives of professional athletes, who combine the ordinary day-to-day responsibilities and tasks that anyone else faces with another side that almost nobody else can possibly imagine.

On the one hand, there were players caught in traffic, players hanging with their little children, players celebrating holidays, players asking at a hotel breakfast if the second glass of orange juice was free.

On the other, there were chartered jets, adoring fans, autographs seekers, commercial opportunities, expensive restaurants and the rest of the lifestyle.

The absolute best moments, for TigerBlog?

* When the Rangers' Marian Gaborik gets his Christmas tree, for one; the site of how he carried the tree down the street to his Manhattan apartment was hilarious
* Anything that Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers' goalie, said or did
* The scene where one of the Rangers went to a game on the subway, completely unnoticed
* The time when the Flyers coaching staff went to dinner in a Manhattan restaurant and watched the Rangers game on TV

More than anything else, though, was the banter between the players. In their own lockerrooms, yes, but even more so on the ice, especially to the other players.

For instance, one of the players on, TB thinks, the Dallas Stars said to one of the Rangers that he was fifth in the league in face-offs and that he could check it on

Or the time that one of the Rangers called one of the Flyers the "ugliest player in the league." Or when one said to the other that he had scored two career goals.

Or when one dismissed another as "playing five minutes a night."

It all builds to the game at Citizens' Bank Park, which the Rangers won 3-2, withstanding a late penalty shot that seemed a little too made-for-TV.

Oh, and the ending is awesome.

What does this have to do with college websites?

Well, TigerBlog read a column in the Philadelphia Daily News by Stan Hochman, one of TB's all-time favorites, who had this to say about the show:
I hated it, every intrusive minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute of it. I loved the close-ups of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers' Russian goalie who pontificates about the vast universe. "Hue-mang-us" he calls it.
For the record, I hate the concept, strangers lugging cameras into places forbidden to writers, eavesdropping on conversations that are off-limits to the regular media covering the team.

It's an interesting sentiment, one TB hadn't thought of, that the access given to "strangers," in this case the HBO crew, was something that would never be given to the writers who cover the team all the time. Or probably wouldn't.

At the same time, no matter how well-written, it would be hard for a story to match the impact of the documentary.

Now yes, no college website can have that level of videography and editing.

But the idea being able to see what goes on behind the scenes is fascinating.

TB loved the "Real Ladies of Maples" series that he stumbled onto on Stanford's website, when Princeton played Stanford in women's basketball.

For that matter, he loves the videos that the OAC at Princeton has produced by giving a little flip-cam to a member of a team for a weekend and just seeing what comes back.

Of course, having video that goes to another level from what is currently done requires additional investments in staffing and equipment, which raises all kinds of other questions.

Still, the "24/7" lesson is clear, at least to TB.

People love what they can see more than what they can read.

Back on Wednesday morning, TB had merely stumbled across a new way of doing post-game stories on Rhode Island's website. At the time, he hardly suspected that it would be the start of a three-day look into how business is done and what works best.

Hey, you never know where inspiration is going to come from.

And if you haven't seen "24/7," do what you can to correct that.

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