It’s a dream scenario for every young athlete, something that’s thought about during every live telecast. What would they say about me? How would the announcers introduce me, and most importantly, what story would the stats tell?
I always envisioned myself looking into the camera, “Mike DeWitt, six-foot-one, point guard (or wide receiver depending on the sports season).” Then the graphics would flash the stats. Something impressive to show the fans what a monster I was on the playing field.
“Averages a triple-double… by halftime!”
“6 receptions, 305 yards, and 6 touchdowns in last years championship game.”
The stats serve to paint a picture of who the athlete is on the field, nothing more, nothing less. But what if the graphics shown let the audience know what an athlete was like off the field, as a person? Someone bigger than the term “athlete.”
These were questions posed during a WKTV Sports Department meeting back in November towards the tail-end of the the high school football season. Since high school sports teach more than winning and losing, and all of these athletes have futures off the playing field, why isn’t the focus on their lives outside of sports?
WKTV broadcasts at least one live high school athletic event a week throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons. The upcoming winter season was the perfect testing ground for the new idea. A meeting with the local athletic directors from the Wyoming-Kentwood area garnered more support for the shift in WKTV’s coverage of high school sports. Instead of a player’s sport stats on the introduction graphics, the broadcast would use a player’s “life stats” like their GPA, hobbies, college, and career interest.
The change in the graphics went into effect during the winter season and it took off in a big way! Players were excited to share their interests off the court and it added to the overall broadcast of high school sports.
“When we ask the players about their life interests, they’re always a caught off-guard a little. It’s not something they’re expecting as the first question,” explains Kyle Panek, the graphics technician at WKTV, “Once one athlete shares a little about themselves, the others jump in too. It fun to watch the guys interact, open up, and joke around with each other as we’re getting the information we need.”
WKTV sees high school sports as a way for kids to learn life lessons such as teamwork, perseverance, hard work, camaraderie, and discipline. It’s about so much more than just winning!
After the success throughout the winter season, the new graphics program is here to stay! It will again be used during spring, and the program will be out of experimental mode and into full gear by fall.