I went to the University of Alabama. You can imagine how much I have enjoyed watching college football for the last ten seasons. When I was in school, they won the SEC my freshman year and then never won more than six games the rest of the time I was in Tuscaloosa, and that includes two 3 win seasons. So I’ve earned this.
Anyway, this week Bama was playing Ole Miss and just kicking the dog crap out of them. Near the end of the first quarter Alabama led 14-0, but Ole Miss was beginning to make progress. Their sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson spotted a wide open receiver, and a completed pass would have cut the lead in half, but alas Patterson overthrew his man.
Todd Blackledge, one of the best color analysts in college football, stated the obvious. “You have to take advantage of all your opportunities against a team like Alabama. You don’t get many like that.”
In order to make this week’s column work, you have to assume you’re Shea Patterson. Don’t worry. He’s a quarterback that wears number 20. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
I guess Alabama, in this analogy, is the competition, or maybe they are the sports news cycle. I’m not sure exactly, but let me explain what I’m getting at.
The sports media landscape is competitive. Your competition isn’t just the show airing a little further up the dial. You’re competing with apps, podcasts, the internet, TV and believe it or not, even good old fashioned print journalism. When you get the chance to establish yourself as a unique voice or a go to destination, you have to take advantage of it.
Last week the college basketball world was turned absolutely upside down by a bribery scandal that has engulfed some of the sport’s biggest names and ultimately cost one of its most successful coaches his job. Plenty of stations and nationally syndicated shows brought on Jay Bilas. Plenty of those same shows also turned to a variety of sports business and legal experts to breakdown what this week will mean for the future of the sport.
I’m not a college basketball fan. In fact, I have very little interest in this scandal except that I enjoy hearing all of these pundits come up with one absurd solution after another to avoid having to admit that maybe if kids were allowed to go straight from high school to the NBA, fewer of them would be susceptible to taking bribes to spend a year in Tuscon, Arizona. But the fact of the matter is that college basketball was competing with natural disasters and Donald Trump for news time on CNN, FOX and all of the major network newscasts. It’s a story that transcended sports.
When faced with these moments, don’t rush to see if you can get the biggest names on the show. This is your chance to shine. Who’s number do you have that will bring a unique perspective listeners can’t get anywhere else? What can you do that is creative that might make your audience laugh at a time when no one else is thinking that way.
Maybe your show did go out of its way to do something like that during the Hoopocalypse. If you did and I missed it, I’m sorry and I’m proud of you. Now keep it up. We’re a fun format, but let’s face it, we’re also a niche format. You won’t get an overwhelming amount of opportunities to make an impression on people that don’t already have your station on their presets.
I feel like every week since I started writing for BSM I’m telling you to challenge yourself more. Well, this week let’s throw a monkey wrench into that formula. In these big moments do what you do best.
“You have to take advantage of all your opportunities against a team like Alabama. You don’t get many like that.” You have more weapons in your arsenal than you think and you certainly have more weapons in your arsenal than competitors that only cover sports peripherally. There is no one for whom “what you do best” is recycling tired bits and guests in big moments. Don’t overthink it, but do think.