By Amy Pulcini
448. That’s the number of computers that watched the men’s and women’s basketball playoff games via live video-streaming on Wednesday February 23, 2010. That number shattered the record of the previous high of 173, which occurred during the Misericordia University double header on January 12th.
BJ Spigelmyer, sports information director, along with the DeSales Athletic Department, switched over from broadcasting the games via live stats and audio-only to live video-streaming just this year. So far they have broadcast videos of the 26 regular season home games, as well as the home playoff games that took place this past week.
So why the switch? “Live stats are great, but we wanted people who couldn’t come to the games to be able to watch the games and not just follow with the stats. We have a lot of parents, fans, alumni, etc. who can’t make it to every game and this provides a medium for which they can still watch,” says Spigelmyer.
Accomplishing live video-streaming depends on many people, one of whom is Samantha Lavin, a first year biology major who can usually be seen behind the camera. “In order for the live-stream to run effectively, one person runs the camera, another person watches the game live to watch for glitches and such and the third person runs the second board for the announcer,” said Lavin.
Aside from people, technology is a big factor in the live video-streaming process. “We stream through Adobe Flash Media Encoder,” explained Spigelmyer. This is a free program that allows him to provide the actual video feed through the website and the website provider, Sidearm Sports.
While attending the game is fun and experiencing the excitement of the crowd adds to the atmosphere, there are several reasons why a person would choose to watch the video. “My father always watches the live feed when he can’t make it to the game,” says junior Tom Marshall. Players’ parents, such as Marshall’s father, who can’t attend the games for various reasons, still have a way to watch their children.
Alumni who moved away from the area can support the team in a different way. Faculty who want to be with their families after work can turn on the game on their computer while grading papers. Students who are studying in their dorms can tune into the game on their computer. “I couldn’t make it to a game because I had a late softball practice and had to get home to finish an assignment. So I watched it online. It was awesome,” says Sharon Yudt, senior communication major.
According to Spigelmyer, the convenience of the live video feed on the computer doesn’t discourage game attendance. “I still think coming to the games is much more exciting and is the best way to watch a game, but this gives fans and family members the chance to see the game when they are unable to travel or gives students the chance to watch the game in their room while studying.”
The highest number of computers that watched a men’s game was 112 during the game against Catholic University of America on January 8th, which DeSales won 77-66. The women’s highest viewing fell short of the men by only two computers, with the number being 110 for the game against Muhlenberg on January 10th, which DeSales won in overtime 60-57.
Live video-streaming will be continuing next year. If you can’t be there in person to root for the women’s basketball team, the next time they play, be sure to tune in via live video-stream. Go to athletics.desales.edu and click on the live video link to cheer on the women from home.