Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time Flies

Little Mason Sachson went for his first haircut yesterday.

A bit shy of his second birthday, Mason is the son of Princeton Assistant Director of Athletics Craig Sachson, who had the unenviable task of taking him for his first stint in the barber's chair.

Its a very stressful moment, taking a boy for his first haircut. There's no way he's going to be happy, not sitting in a chair, smock on, stranger taking scissors to his hair.

By all accounts, Mason had a typical reaction. His father reported that they made it through okay, even if it wasn't a lot of yucks.

TigerBlog remembers taking his own son to his first haircut like it was yesterday. He had the same experience, unpleasant, but ultimately successful.

It wasn't yesterday, though. Yesterday was Mason's turn. And even if it seemed like TigerBlog Jr. was Mason's age not that long ago, on the actual yesterday, when Mason was getting his first haircut, TBJ was taking his road test for his driver's license.

TigerBlog can report that his son was nervous on the way to the test, antsy waiting for the inspector to finish with the young man who went just before him and ultimately fine once he zipped through the parallel parking.

From first hair cut to driver's license. Time flies. It did for TBJ. It will for Mason too.

Parenting is partly about observing milestones and doing what you can to make sure that they're ready for whatever it is they've just achieved. It goes back all the way to the beginning, when they first roll over, and life becomes a series of steps towards independence - crawling, walking, talking, first day of school, first time on a bicycle, playing sports, going to high school, driving, college, adulthood.

Some are easier to handle than others. The driving one is downright frightening.

As for Mason's dad, he is the sport contact for 12 of Princeton's 38 varsity teams, which makes him one of the busier people in the world of athletic communications. In fact, TB can't imagine there are too many people - if any - who cover more teams in the world of Division I.

Craig is in his second tour of duty with Princeton Athletic Communications. His first was as an intern back in the 1990s, and then, after two years at Cornell, he's been back at Princeton since. Like TB, Sachson's background originally was in newspapers, the same newspaper as TB, for that matter.

When TB thinks back at the way it's evolved around here in his tenure, by far the No. 1 thing has been the advent of the webpage. That alone changed the whole show in so many ways.

For starters, it was the beginning - a dramatic beginning - of the shift from an emphasis on media relations to becoming Princeton's own media outlet. Back when TB started, there was really no way to get directly to the people who wanted the information other than to go through the media, which didn't really help Princeton fans who didn't live in the local area.

In other words, other than perhaps a team newsletter or a very small recruiting guide, there was no way to consistently get information out to, say, a Princeton swimming alum who lived in Texas. All of that changed overnight with

Before the webpage, very little was done for the teams whose games weren't covered by newspapers, which meant most of the teams. It wasn't that nobody cared about them; it's just that there was little that could be done other than write a short postgame release, fax it out to newspapers and hope they ran a sentence at least.

The web changed all of that. Suddenly there was a limitless opportunity to send out information. This led to the second biggest development in TB's tenure.

When Craig first started, he was an intern who couldn't stay for more than two years if he wanted. Shortly after the launch of (and not related to it, more related to changes in University policy), the internships were eliminated in favor of full-time jobs.

Instead of having a different sport contact every two years, every sport now had someone who was going to be around for awhile. With that came institutional memory and familiarity, and with that came way better coverage. And, with the webpage, the supply could finally meet demand.

It's no wonder that the coaches of Craig's 12 sports - and of all the sports that used to be so underreported - love how things are now.

Those two things - a webpage and experienced people to put information on it - did more to connect the athletic department and its fans all over the world than anything TB could have imagined back on his first day here.

Craig's 12 sports are football, men's and women's squash, wrestling, men's and women's volleyball, all four crews and men's and women's swimming and diving.

Back in the day, this would have meant a lot of work with one sport and hardly any with 11 others. Now? Just look at the webpage, where there is a ton of information about all of those teams, with stories, video and everything else.

It's a big weekend for Sachson's teams. The women's swimming and diving team chases another Ivy League championship. Wrestling tries to close out its best Ivy season in decades. Women's squash plays in the Howe Cup national championship tournament.

In the modern era of athletic communications, this keeps him as busy as a football game. And that's a very good thing, for so many reasons. 

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