Editorializing: The CIS website woes are a problem, ultimately

The ultimate pot-meet-kettle is when Sun Media solipsist Steve Simmons says something "has never been less relevant," but his Sunday spew did graze one of its targets:
"It's halfway through the CIS football season and its website still isn't operating. And you wonder why people don't go to the games?"
Simmons is right to a small point, which is pretty good by his standards. It is glaring Canadian Interuniversity Sport's website has a red-letter message saying the "new-look CIS site will be launched by the end of September." (Today is Oct. 4.)

This site's Rob Pettapiece has been all over this for a long time. It might not get attention when the diehards and devotees say it, but when the drive-by media opine, it gets attention.

Not having up-to-date boxscores readily available may be lumped in with the failure to properly market university athletics in this country. It does not take Don Draper to know that when you're selling a product, you're selling people an image. Coming off as amateur will lead to being treated as amateur.

It is post-hoc to link the public support for a league to its website, granted. There are many sociological reasons for why people follow the CFL and major junior hockey instead of their university equivalents, or why Old Media has been slow to realize they should be giving more attention to CIS basketball.

However, perhaps not coincidentally, major junior hockey has no issues with its website. There is live scoring from every game in all three leagues. Most of the provincial Junior A leagues (do not call it Tier II!) have made the same investment.

People and journalists do not have to go looking. All media is deadline-driven. Traditional media is also being run into the ground by Baby Boomers. That generation, for some reason, has got used to having everything handed to it and likes things to be structured top-down. It is not wrong, though, to say that CIS cannot have its stat-keeping cannot be going off madly in all directions.

That is kind of what is happening this year. A few schools such as Calgary, Western and Queen's, have live stats for home football games. Most leagues are using a program for football, which provides very detailed summaries of games, including drive charts and play-by-play, which is very helpful. (You have to hunt around for it with a couple conferences.) For hockey, three of four regional associations are using LeagueStat, which provides up-to-date summaries for men's and women's hockey. It needs to be 4-of-4. More and more schools are signing on with Streaming Sports Network Canada and other videocasters.

Really, of this should be addressed. A niche league needs to be strong on those margins. The bar is not set at the bare minimum, it is set at the maximum.

(A major piece of subtext is assuming CIS needs newspapers. It does not, really. With what is happening to newspapers, especially in mid-sized cities, so-called social media should be the focus for university sports. Some OUA markets are might lose their Monday print newspaper within the next 12-24 months. You would not put that past Pierre-Karl Péladeau. People are not going to wait until Tuesday afternoon to read about a game that was on Saturday.

Here are some of the schools Simmons presumably was referring to:
  • Nipissing: Drew 3,693 and 3,374 to its hockey team's exhibition and pre-season openers.
  • Montreal: Judging from the Radio-Canada feed, the stadium is pretty full today.
  • Western: 9,217 for its homecoming football game.
  • Laurier: Close to 10,000 for its homecoming.
  • Saskatchewan: Sold out its first two games at Griffiths Stadium, which holds more than 6,000.
  • Saint Mary's: 4,500 for a game vs. a non-traditional opponent, Sherbrooke.
  • Guelph: Drew 8,750 for its game vs. Western, which was nationally televised.)
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  1. Great post Sager. I'm often annoyed by Simmons 'big-city-itis' but this comments were right on the mark this morning.

    If Laval drops their match with Montreal that does not mean Queens moves into number one. I just had to put that out there.

  2. Thank you.

    Pat Sheahan said Queen's record is "not the kind of 4-0 you beat your chest over" and I am inclined to agree.

    Why not put Montréal No. 1, Laval No. 2, Calgary No. 3, Queen's No. 4, Western No. 5? Western might win the Oct. 17 game, but that cuts the flak about putting a 4-1 team ahead of a 5-0.

  3. Montreal can't leap over Laval, the Red and Gold already beat them this year. A split in the season series means that Laval stays at number one while Montreal moves up the rankings.

    Oddly, I don't have a problem with Queens moving past Western. Brannigan's Gaels always choke when they're a first seed. Besides, I don't see Western winning on Richardson's natural turf/dirt.

    It really doesn't matter where Canada-West teams are seeded; they are more or less an after-thought this year. Even a healthy Glavic won't fix that Dino's defense. To slightly re-work a quote from a Bison's safety a couple of years ago, when referring to the OUA, "Phsss,[Canada-West] is soft. . ."

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  5. I always thought the CIS website was semi Mickey Mouse anyway, even when it was up and running.
    For example, the site never included exhibition or non conference games in its basketball schedule.
    And in order to check the schedule for the latest results it would always scroll back to the top of the page at the start of the season...most annoying.
    But the fact that the site isn't ready for the start of the academic year is simply inexcusable.
    They have had almost five months since the end of last season to get it installed.
    I mean what in hell is going on?

  6. I guess I'm adding to the pile on but, on top of not yet finishing the redesign or having live scores, many of the links to the various scores and standings on the regional websites were actually broken or incorrect links.

  7. The Cepsum was fully packed today - there were people not only in the stands, but also in the grass and everywhere...

    BTW, I wanna hear a solid argument as why the Carbs can't be rated #1 in the Top 10... Yep the R&O beat us earlier this year, but we had 0 QB! Today, we did not only beat them, but dominated them in every aspect of the game...

  8. There was an optics festival--I mean, a bash-the-CIS-website thread, and I wasn't informed?

    Some guy said, last summer, that "the CIS is small-time and its record-keeping is a disaster." Nowhere is that more evident than its inability, as a sporting organization, to provide sports scores on its website.

    But I'll stop before I repeat something that we have already mentioned before.

  9. BTW, I wanna hear a solid argument as why the Carbs can't be rated #1 in the Top 10

    Argument #1: Because if the teams played next week, most people, I assume, would still pick Laval to win, and the Top 10 is a collection of opinions.

    Argument #2: Seeing Mount Royal in the fall, but only on a webcast and not in person, is pure torture and Montreal teams should be punished in return.

  10. BTW Rob, we were comfortable only with long-sleeves shirt... :)

    @Superfun - Yep, but if you compare both teams (Mtl & Laval) who do you think is the best team this Monday (almost anyway)?

  11. To get back to the website issue, and good on ya Sager for writing a piece on this, the website is just awful. For people who have to write a story in an hour following a game this website is an absolute headache. How about when you click "Go" for 2009 schedule/results- the first time I saw that I'm thinking "common guys, seriously?" It may be my computor but its in all html with every team listed- I don't even know what to think of it.

    Thank god I have the oua website to rely on for stats, and I gotta say Josh Bell-Webster over at the O has a great website running.

  12. Thanks. The point was not make anyone feel or look bad, but to highlight what someone in a major publication said about CIS, and expand on it (and show where he was wrong).

    Anyway, all credit to Rob and Greg Layson, who have harped on this for more than a year. My attitude has normally been, "Whatever, make the best of it." I am not as important as Steve Simmons, who of course is out at OUA events every weekend.

  13. I made fun of the "end of September" line from the CIS website during one of the Queen's radio broadcasts.

    Having to read scores at halftime from a Twitter account instead of their website is quite bad. I was grabbing scores from some of the guys in the running blog during Queen's-Ottawa since they were more up to date.

  14. Well, to be fair, there is an official CIS_SIC twitter. Good for scores, but if you want to know right away how many yards Brad Sinopoli rushed for ...