Nikki Dotson Merritt: Livestreaming events is an asset for communities

August 29, 2018

In a perfect world, every single sports fan would be able to make the trek to every game of teams he or she supports. The fan could be in multiple places on a Friday night and support all teams equally - but realistically that is not the case.

However, with advances in modern technology, and specifically the popularity of social networking, it is more of a possibility now than ever before.

During the kickoff of Wayne County High School football, each game was livestreamed on Facebook. The Wayne and Spring Valley game was streamed as part of Kindred Communications’ game of the week, and a community member and former coach in the Tolsia community streamed the Rebels game as well.

Technically, if someone wanted to follow each game at the same exact time - they could have. I did. I switched between livestreams all evening keeping tabs on county teams. It was great as someone who supports county athletics, and especially as someone who is a part of a news organization who have coverage of said games in my weekly edition.

I can only imagine it was also a great advantage for elderly fans who possibly couldn’t travel to the game or physically withstand attending and sitting on bleachers. I can also see where someone who is currently living in another state or area could benefit from supporting players or their alma mater via streaming.

While I do understand the convenience of digital access to games may deter actual attendance, and I will acknowledge gate monies could take a hit, one must consider the pros and cons.

Money is important, but isn’t building a fan base? Isn’t giving people the opportunity to watch and learn to love your team equally important? After all, attendees of games have to care at least somewhat to make the effort to come. Livestreaming could not only make it convenient for current fans, but extend coverage and bring more people in as fans - which could ultimately increase physical presence as well.

During the Tolsia football game, there was an alleged disagreement in which a member of the administration asked the livestream be stopped and never performed again. When asked later, though a comment on the disagreement itself was not made, it was said there is a “No Facebook” policy at the school. Whether or not that is a written Board of Education policy seems unclear at this time, however, a policy for students and faculty, in my opinion, cannot be forced upon outsiders.

I’m not sure where the line is drawn between personal freedoms and policies, but what I do know is I very much support and enjoy livestreaming at county sporting events. I would love to see it happen at all games and at all sporting events - not just football.

Being a dedicated sports fan doesn’t mean you can always physically attend events, even if you plan to. It is for this reason I think livestreaming games is a huge asset for communities.

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