Converged communications in the press box

High school football also includes exciting opportunities involving technology. Like other pastimes in American society, football has hopped onto the high-tech bandwagon, with mobile communication, data analysis, and similar gizmo-powered systems capturing a bigger and bigger role. These days, the tension in the press box comes close to matching the drama on the field. With coaches barking out play calls, broadcast crews calling the play-by-play action, officials minding the clock and scoreboard, and teams of technicians keeping all the equipment in order, the press box bustles with activity on Friday nights. The football scene deserves attention from Converged Communications students with interest in building a communication career in the sports industry after graduation.

Booth Headset

Last Friday night’s game at Bishop Kenny High School typifies the reach of technology in modern football, a development that old-time coaches like Vince Lombardi and George Halas might have struggled to comprehend. Boasting a spacious, modern press box built during the spring, Bishop Kenny has abundant room for assistant coaches to view the action and communicate with the head coach on the sidelines, using the headsets and networking links pictured here. A clock operator controls the scoreboard with a complicated trapezoidal controller high in the box. Some high school referees now use microphones, enabling the fans in the seats to listen to penalty announcements just as they do for Sunday afternoon NFL contests. This means massive work for the different staff members – some paid, some volunteers – who work to put everything together. FSCJ students, particularly those in the Production Media track, may find the array of equipment fascinating.

The task for production crews becomes even harder on nights like Friday. Heavy pregame rains soaked the field at Bishop Kenny, which is located only yards from the St. Johns River and frequently floods in wet weather. This rain turned the playing field into a 100-yard patch of sponge, neutralizing speed and making patience vital. Thanks to a splendid performance from wide receiver/linebacker Charles Wade, who intercepted two passes and forced a fumble, Bishop Kenny emerged victorious from the slop. The Crusaders held off visiting Ribault 20-6, as detailed in my Times-Union report, to remain undefeated and take command of the District 3-5A postseason race.

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