A great way to promote the kickoff of high school football in our state is to have a local media day. This has been a yearly event in some areas, especially in some of our bigger cities, but the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper started its own this year when it brought together Walker County schools, Jasper High School (formerly Walker High School)and Sumiton Christian on Monday, July 17th at a local restaurant. That restaurant, Warehouse 319, has a commitment to bring together good food and sports. The Walker County Media Day did just that. Having the event during the week of the AHSAA Summer Conference seems the perfect time, as teams are prohibited from practice and may only workout. Coaches are catching their breath this week before the start of preseason practice August 7th.
AL.com’s Josh Bean also attended the event. One of the best writers of high school sports in our state, his live updates of the Walker media day through Twitter is a great way to look at this interesting account of what to expect on the local high school football scene. The almost minute by minute blows he records on Twitter as each team’s coaches and players answered questions is a great way to experience media day if you cannot attend. In his article posted on al.com, he recreated his tweets and completed each team’s section with a short video of the interviews, compliments of the Jasper Mountain Daily Eagle.
In a day when we all need to take advantage of every opportunity to promote high school football, these media days can be a great way to promote the game, your school and players. They happen each season during the latter days of July or the first of August, just before the beginning of practice. Coaches should take advantage of media days to not only talk about their team, but sell the value of high school football to the media and all of those who will listen.
Bean says that high school media days are a win for both the media and the coaches, whose time is at a premium as August approaches. “It was really difficult for the coaches and for the media when each reporter had to go from school to school, time wise. I remember going to SEC Media Days when I first started back in the 90’s,” he said. “I thought to myself, wouldn’t this be great to do with high schools?” He eventually helped to restructure the Mobile area media event, which had been held for years at Ladd Stadium, to more of an interview format like the SEC Media Days. The head coach and players faced questions from the media together for a specific amount of time. It made the event flow more smoothly. Bean then helped set up a similar event for Baldwin County teams.
There are a number of high school media days across the state. All of them are similar in that the local print and television media are present to interview players and coaches about the upcoming season. Most of the players and coaches seem excited and believe that they have a chance for a great season. Most athletes wear their jerseys to identify their schools, but some teams are a little more dressy, wearing ties to give an extra touch of class.
Media events may be small or large. The Mobile County show has 22 teams. Some events are held over two days. There is usually some kind of food around. Some have financial sponsors and all must have good organizers to succeed. These events may occur at a newspaper office (Montgomery Advertiser) or a golf course (Highland Oaks in Dothan). The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has sponsored some events, like the Northeast Alabama Media Day which includes many Huntsville area teams. They bring in an FCA speaker and promote the day. Some may encompass a wide variety of schools. The Wiregrass Media Day includes the large schools in Dothan, the private schools in and around that city, and many of the smaller public schools scattered from the Georgia line all the way to Opp and north to Eufaula. The Jefferson-Shelby County media met with teams last year at the Gardendale Civic Center and is a large event. Baldwin County has nine schools at their media day. Blount County Schools has a media day that includes Boaz, Albertville and other north central Alabama teams. The Talladega County Coaches Association sponsors ten schools at the Talladega Super Speedway.
Media days can be a great time for the coaches to visit and encourage each other. They see their buddies, eat a little and maybe even play some golf. It is a time to offer help on videos, or tell what you heard happened to another school’s quarterback this summer. There is great fellowship with the media as well, to foster trust and relationships that will bear fruit for both media and coach as the season wears on. Many of players know each other, and to represent your school at a media day is a sign that you are one of the leaders of your football team.
If your school does not participate in a media day, get some help to organize one in your area. Start with the local newspapers, talk to the coaches and find a sponsor to help with some of the expenses. If in a rural setting, you may need to bring together two or three adjoining counties. Find a restaurant or some nice place to have the event. Get a technology guy to help with audio, video and promotions. Recruit someone in radio or who has a media background to set a schedule and run the event. You may even have an agenda and talk about something important to the game each year – school spirit, values of playing football, importance of recruiting high school football officials, etc. Within a couple of years, you could have a great event that everyone looks forward to attending. Most importantly, you will be promoting and lifting up high school football as an important part of a young man”s life.
Click the link below to go to Josh Bean’s article on the Walker County Media Day.