(Centralia, WA) A funny thing has happened to covering High School sports it doesn’t seem to be as important for many in the media business as it once was. No longer can you find in depth schedules, standings and box scores in most newspapers. AM radio is on the verge of collapse and certainly they have cut back on not only covering high school sports but live radio in general is a rarity. Television has never been big with High School sports a Championship game here or there is about all there ever was and they certainly are looking to expand at this point.

All of media has drastically changed not only over the 30 years but even over the past 5 and it continues to change. Once upon a time we couldn’t wait for the Saturday morning newspaper to check out all the Friday night football scores, stories and oh what an honor it would be to have a picture in the paper. Now on any Friday night you can get up to date scores, stats, pictures and even video of every game in the state on Twitter. All you have to do is follow the right people on Twitter and you can follow all your favorite teams in real time.

So it is not surprising broadcasting High School sports is changing quickly. Why sit next to your crackly old AM radio when you can stream a clean broadcast from your PC or phone. Now with the advent of unlimited data live video broadcasting is here to stay.

When ESN was formed nearly 8 years ago we knew at some point video would be part of covering High School sports we just didn’t know how we were going to do it or what form the broadcasts would come. See we also believe that even though the delivery system of media is rapidly changing that the product is still wanted and in demand.

Parents, family and fans still want to follow their teams and especially when they get to the post season the interest jumps even more attracting more casual fans and alumni. It is an interesting phenomenon how we remain tied to the school calendar even when we are done with school and our kids are done we still feel a sense of relief when June comes and school is out. Even if we don’t get summers off anymore we feel good about that time of year. Same can be said when September rolls around and kids go back to school we feel like it’s time to get back into a routine. So it is quite natural to be interested and feel proud when your High School does well in a sport and maybe even brings home a trophy.

Well the time is now for the next step in covering High School sports and ESN is pleased to have now been affiliated with the NFHS Network. The NFHS Network has allowed us to take the next step in bringing live play-by-play high school sports to everyone no matter where they are in the world, literally. 

We are also excited for the new partnerships we are making with individual schools, districts and the WIAA. We are fresh off providing live coverage of all 60 games played in the recent 1A and 2A State Basketball Championships in Yakima. We have covered plenty of football including the 1B title game, the 2A State Volleyball tournament, all 10 State soccer tournaments plus B baseball.  All of this was for the WIAA.

We have partnered much like the WIAA with District 4 and committed to cover as many district 4 play-off contests as possible this resulted in 25 district basketball games over 2 weeks plus district soccer, volleyball and early round football games.

We are now beginning to partner with individual schools where we will be broadcasting up to 20 games per year per school of all kinds of sports. We currently have 3 streams and soon will be adding more focused on the Vancouver area, Yakima, Tri-Cities and hopefully Bellingham. We also hope to expand our reach in the Kent to Olympia stretch in District 3.

Our current school partners are Black Hills, Centralia, Tumwater, WF West, Montesano, Toledo and Woodland with more coming soon. We also encourage any Athletic Director that would like to be part of our affiliate group to contact Paul at paulbelisportsnetwork@gmail.com.

The NFHS is a pay subscription service and costs $9.95 per month like a Netflix subscription. This gives you access to all live NFHS programming for 30 days. So had you signed up on February 2nd for example you would have had access to all the ESN district basketball games we did along with all State Regionals, State Basketball at every classification plus State Wrestling and Swimming and Diving. You can cancel anytime no long term commitment.

Additionally, you can get access to all the NFHS programming absolutely free you do have to create an account on the NFHS website and you have to wait 72 hours after the live programming to see it but it is absolutely free.

We also do have ESN TV channels on YouTube and Twitter (Periscope) where we mostly broadcast the games we do for Centralia College. Also look for more Blazer coverage as well plus some other odds and ends.

After 7 years heading into year 8 we didn’t know the future of High School sports coverage and we still don’t but we are excited to be part of the ever changing landscape. We also want to thank and will continue to support our friends still doing it in radio and newspaper. The ones still doing it and thriving are the ones also offering other modes of listening, reading and viewing High School sports. We don’t believe we are in competition with any of them and will continue to link and encourage fans to read or listen to their products as well.

Media coverage of High School sports is not dead, it’s simply changing and the Eli Sports Network is excited to be part of the new era of High School sports media coverage.

By paulb

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