Despite the fact that Salisbury, N.C., is over twice as big as Washington, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards weekend has brought the fact that there are many similarities.
Both are about an hour outside of major metropolitan areas with Salisbury located outside of Charlotte.
Both Washington and Salisbury have Amtrak stops. Washington is on a major river while Salisbury has an interstate highway running through it. And both cities have been harmed by economic downturns. The automotive industry slowed Washington while Salisbury has been hurt by a slowdown in textiles.
And both towns love their sports, particularly American Legion baseball in the summer.
My host for the weekend, Gary Trexler, covers Mooresville for a local radio station. The major story and photo on the front page of Saturday’s Salisbury Post was from the South Rowan-Mooresville Legends Legion game. The North Carolina Area III has 19 teams in two divisions (the Southern Division has 10 and the Northern Division has nine).
You know how much pride the community has in the Post 218 Legion program. Here, the local Salisbury team, Rowan, was playing in a tournament in Shelby, N.C. (the site of the national tournament), against South Carolina teams this weekend. Another regional team, Kannapolis, had a player selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
One area where Salisbury has found a niche is in this weekend’s event. The NSSA awards event has been going strong for over 50 years. Salisbury has been able to bring in people from all over the country for the event and word of mouth has helped to bolster the city’s tourism over the years. And by bringing in big names, such as this year’s hall of fame inductees Bob Costas and John Feinstein to people like former college basketball coach Tom Penders (has insights were refreshing and gave us a glimpse into the mind of the college coach), who was one of the stars at Saturday night’s coaches and media discussion forum, Salisbury has attracted national attention to its city.
Taking a spin through downtown, there are banners on the lightposts informing the local population about the events taking place. For a few days, Salisbury has found a way to put itself into the national spotlight, but something like this hasn’t come without over 50 years of work to make the event what it is today.
The panel discussion concerning coaches and media, mainly in college sports, was extremely interesting. We had a former coach, a sports information director, a beat reporter for a major daily newspaper and a broadcaster from an official school network. It was great to see the dynamic which goes into place when all of the different pieces are fit together to see how open the coaches are, how the student-athletes are trained to deal with the media and how relationships are developed to help everyone get what they’re looking for.
One recurring theme was the development of Internet media outlets and responsible journalism. The traditional media outlets, such as newspapers, radio and television stations, have measures in place to ensure that the ethics of journalism are followed. It’s not as uniform among many Internet online-only sites and figuring out who is responsible while following an ethical code is difficult. And that’s one of the gray areas right now.
On Sunday, the National Athletic Trainers Association held its annual brunch. I’ve always been a huge supporter of NATA and its efforts. This year’s winning piece was on concussions. However, this year’s presentations were not on concussions for a change.
The first presentation, by Jon Almquist (one of my sources when I won the NATA national award) concerning emergency action plans for teams, schools and districts. It’s up to team coaches to know little things in case an emergency happens, such as the address of the location, contacting the correct dispatcher and being able to get to that precise location. It has been figured that the difference between being prepared and “winging it” in regards to reacting to an emergency situation is 15 minutes, and that could be the difference between life and death.
The other presentation, by Scott Anderson of the University of Oklahoma, concerned SCT (sickle cell trait) and sudden deaths in athletes through extreme exertion. That’s something which probably wasn’t known about not too long ago and athletes were dying. Now, the word needs to spread so that there aren’t any more deaths from a preventable situation.