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Students prepare for changes in sport reporting by helping teams connect with fans

Two sport media students watching over the basketball court with their laptops in front of them, looking back at the camera, smiling for a photo

As traditional media outlets cut beat reporters and downsize staff, it has led professional sports teams to start covering their own games and team news. York College of Pennsylvania is preparing students for the changes in sport media coverage.

The media departments of pro sports teams have grown considerably in recent years as teams take it upon themselves to connect with fans. Michael Mudrick, Sport Management Professor at York College of Pennsylvania, is making sure his students are prepared for that evolving landscape of sports coverage.

“As it is with a lot of industries, the access teams have social media platforms and creative talent means they can tell their own stories or break their own news,” Mudrick says. “They aren’t as reliant on traditional media outlets as they used to be when it comes to reaching an audience.”

Changes in traditional media outlets have meant cutting beat reporters or downsizing staff in general. While some students might have previously dreamed about getting access to their favorite players with a press pass, they could now have jobs where they’re on the same payroll, working for the same team.

“The jobs haven’t necessarily gone away,” Mudrick says. “Fans still want to know what’s going on with their favorite team or players. Where they go for that information is different.”

Changes in sport communication

Whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat, most York College students are already using video editing tools that tell a story. And these social media accounts aren’t just for teenagers or young adults—they’re growing platforms for brands, athletes, and celebrities to use to directly reach an audience.

Going into the field of Sport Communication could require new hires to dabble in photo, video, and audio software, while having the skills necessary to conduct interviews or write web stories.

“Knowing how to stretch myself in these areas is going to make me more marketable,” says Kayla Carr ’24. As a Sport Management major, she’s learning how advertising is tied to brand awareness and how tracking analytics helps a team sell tickets and merchandise. More importantly, Carr is learning how brands are working to tell stories so that fans have an emotional connection to their team.

“As a consumer, you notice a lot of the content has changed,” she says. “When I was a kid, I never remembered seeing much about my sport team outside of big games or events. Now, you can be connected to your team all the time.”

Sports after the pandemic

Trent Finkle ’23 remembers watching a baseball game and hearing the roar of the fans as a grand slam emptied the bases. The funny thing was, Finkle says, there were no fans in the stands. The game was being livestreamed during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a lot of drastic movement toward sports teams using their online presence to keep in touch with fans,” Finkle says. “The need was always growing, but COVID-19 and adapting to the pandemic meant teams couldn’t rely on fans coming to the stadium to watch a game. They had to reach them in other ways.”

Through York College’s annual Professional Day, students meet alumni who work in the industry and have had to adapt to the many technology-fueled changes. Those interactions help students like Finkle see themselves navigating the sport industry, especially from a communication standpoint.

“I think that these experiences are just as important as they are fun because it allows us to look at the sport industry not just as a fan, but also from the perspective of an industry leader,” Finkle says. “It allows us to put theory into practice from what we have learned in the classroom.”