Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Days Of Standardized Rosters

TigerBlog remembers lunches, not in boxes but in brown paper bags, lined up on trays in a room near a pro shop.

People dressed for golf and not for business grabbed the lunches as they hustled their way to the first tee.

TigerBlog, for the record, might have once or twice taken the oatmeal raisin cookie out of one bag and put a chocolate chip cookie from another in its place, before he went out to hack up the course.

The occasion was Ivy League football media day, held in Connecticut, usually at a place called Lyman Orchards but eventually at Yale's golf course.

For several years, the pattern was to have Ivy League sports information meetings on Monday and then football media day on Tuesday morning, followed by the golf outing. There would be a big sports information dinner on Monday evening.

That Monday for the meetings would have been yesterday. The football media day/golf would have been today.

Of course, both ceased several years ago, lost to budget cuts, lack of media turnout and other issues.

The football media day has been replaced by a conference call, to be held today, to coincide with the release of the Ivy League's preseason poll.

The SID meetings have been held sporadically, and when they have been, they've been moved to be in concert with the athletic directors' meetings in May.

TigerBlog has a binder that has the minutes from the sports information meetings dating back to before he started actually working here, and reading through those pages can often make for hilarity in terms of the issues that were so vehemently discussed.

Ask anyone who sat in the room back then - John Veneziano from Harvard, the late Kathy Slattery from Dartmouth, Dave Wohlheueter from Cornell, Bill Steinman from Columbia, Chuck Yrigoyen from the Ivy office, as well as a small group of others who still work in the league - about those meetings, and they'd all chuckle at you.

Slattery would start each meeting by reminding all in the room that they should keep in mind that they were working "for the good of the clan," meaning that everyone was in it together.

Then, the group would embark on a nightmarish three-hour discussion on the value of standardized rosters.

If TB lives to be 100, he'll never forget his first foray into standardized roster discussions.

It seemed like such a simple idea. Back when schools first could start emailing rosters to each other, why couldn't they simply be in the same format? TB didn't care if it was first name/last name or last name/first name. He didn't care if it was position/class or class/position, hometown/high school or high school/hometown.

In checking the SID meeting binder, TB sees that one such discussion was held 15 years and four days ago, at the Ramada Inn in Meriden, Conn. The minutes said this:
"Possibly the most venerable of Ivy SID meeting topics, the question of standardized rosters was brought up, especially in light of everyone's ability to send and receive rosters by email. In subsequent negotiations worthy of anything ever consummated in Washington or Geneva, the Ivy League SIDs agreed on a roster format acceptable (albeit grudingly) to all."

And, following that, was the format that actually remains the league rule to this day: Number, Last Name, First Name, Position, Class, Height, Weight, High School, Hometown.

Of course, almost nobody follows that today, or has for years. After awhile, TB gave up on the need for standardized rosters; these days, he simply takes whatever roster is given to him and plops it on the roster page in the game program.

Not one person has ever said to TB that the format for the two rosters doesn't match.

Of course, as TB thinks back to the ferocious battle over the roster format, which he largely stayed out while trying to figure out how people could care this much about what order this stuff should be in.

And just when the fight was over and the format was settled, Chris Humm, who is still at Brown, started a separate skirmish when he asked if it was to be AP style or postal abbreviations for states.

In all, it was a several-hour discussion on that subject.

As TB looks back through the binders, he sees issue after issue, many of which related to the emerging internet and how it could be used in sports information. There were also issues about how many post-game faxes were too many for a visiting SID to ask a home SID to send out (TigerBlog always felt that if the visiting SID asked for the fax to be sent, there was a good reason; TB also has sent fewer than 10 faxes in the last five years, as everything should be electronic these days), whether or not the Ivy League should go to a common in-game stats program and which it should be, whether there was a future for live stats (TB wondered who in their right mind would sit by a computer watching stats refresh, something he regularly does now, so he might have been wrong about that one), information sharing through things like Fax-On-Demand (the sports information office would fax a release to a central database, and then media people could dial-in and have it faxed to them, though it cost the sports information office money every time it was used) and any number of other wildly odd and now-outdated topics.

And yet they provoked such intense debate at the time.

Eventually, the number of topics dwindled to almost none, and the meetings ceased. There have been just a few in the last 10 years or so.

And football media day is now a conference call.

Still, TB can't help but think back to when an early August Monday and Tuesday were much different.

Ah, those were the days.

1 comment:

Brett said...

I think that the annual discussion of standardized rosters hastened the end of the SID meetings, which also signaled the end of media day.

If Hummer could have recognized that the only place for a postal state abbreviation was an envelope, media day in New Haven would still exist.