Photo courtesy of Sarah Urich (IAWrestle)

Media Changes at Iowa High School State Tournaments

Photo courtesy of Sarah Urich (IAWrestle)

 

With the state wrestling tournament just weeks away, changes to the media structure for the Iowa High School Boys State Tournaments has come to light. At the forefront of these changes is the media rights holder for the state tournaments for football, boy’s basketball, wrestling, track and baseball, The Iowa High School Sports Network.

To start, the IHSSN, not the Boy’s Association will be the one handling credentialing for media members at these events. That’s a concern when a media entity is controlling media access. But a larger growing concern from small town newspapers across the state is that print media will have to shoot pictures from behind barriers. Concerns about unobstructed views and limited room from these journalists has been mentioned.

The print media is also being moved into a press holding pen while their wrestlers aren’t competing. In the hallways below Wells Fargo Arena, they can watch the other action on television, not live from mat side as in past years.

These concerns may seem trivial to some. But for the small towns across Iowa, the local newspaper is their lifeline to finding out about how the wrestlers are doing and the pictures that are captured mat side bring some amazing moments. I still remember seeing a picture of Osage’s Mark Schwab in the Mitchell County Press News after winning his 4th state championship for only the 6th time in state history back in 1985. It’s disappointing that the journalists that cover these athletes will have to compete for space to capture these moments.

For the football, basketball, track and baseball state tournaments, this doesn’t appear to be a very big issue. The biggest issue will be with the wrestling tournament. If the barriers aren’t too restricting and the areas are large enough, this may very well turn out to be much ado about nothing. But their is one large issue at play for many across the state of Iowa; the IHSSN having their events on Comcast Chicago exclusively.

For those with DirecTV and Dish Network, this is not an issue. If they are part of your basic package, you’re good to go. If they aren’t, you can still purchase the sports pack for these satellite providers and you will find the state tournaments. But for those that have Mediacom and many other cable providers across the state, you’re out of luck unless Comcast Chicago is part of your package. To many in Central and Western Iowa, that means that you cannot watch these boys state tournaments.

In the end, the IHSSN has done many great things for the student athletes is providing more coverage across the state tournaments. This year, you can stream the 1st round and quarterfinal matches online, something that has never been available before. For the nominal fee of $9.95, you will be able to see all of these matches along with the Dual State Tournament. Football Semifinal games at the UNI-Dome, early match ups in basketball and baseball and track coverage that has never been available before are now available. For many that can’t make the trek to Des Moines early in the week, this is a godsend. I’m hopeful that the print journalists will be able to continue to do their jobs without major obstacles. And down the line it would be great to see statewide coverage for these tournaments for those that don’t have Comcast Chicago. We’ll see if this is just us media types blowing things out of proportion; it has happened before! In 4 weeks, we’ll all find out.

A few links with more thoughts on the topic for your reading pleasure: