From The Middle of Nowhere: Giving thanks to the unsung SID

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered -
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.”

William Shakespeare, Henry V
Hopefully most CIS sports information directors don’t have to shed blood during their non-stop work schedule (though it’s happened, believe me, I know it’s happened); but it’s guaranteed these hardworking people shed a lot of sweat and tears and work ungodly unimaginable hours; and they usually do it with little in the way of thanks and sometimes, unfortunately, without the necessary support they need from their athletic departments and athletic directors.

SIDs in Canadian Interuniversity Sport are a true band of brothers and sisters, for their small community is unlike no other in the country. Their job is little understood by anybody who has not served in this position (which is almost everybody; including many of the athletic directors who write the SID job descriptions).

To be an SID is an obsession, a calling, a sickness, it is 24/7, 365 days a year, and there is nowhere to hide.

What does it take to be an SID? Some kind of journalism or communications degree or background, a love for university sports, the ability to do about 200 things at once while planning a month ahead, a definite masochistic bent, a huge amount of patience, the skills of a salesperson, psychologist, teacher, and circus performer, the impossible goal of perfection, and the desire to be the best.

What does an SID do? Well, let’s see: write game previews, series previews, game reports, media releases of all types, preparing rosters, managing websites, posting articles to websites, sending releases and articles to the media, sometimes writing personal unrelated releases for the athletics directors (Do you have a choice?), training and managing stats staff (sometimes doing them), training and managing A/V staff (sometimes doing equipment setup), training and managing broadcast staff (sometimes going on-air), pushing local media to cover your teams, arrange photographers, run media conferences, pushing national media to cover your teams, begging for equipment donations when you don’t get any budget from your AD for it, persuading your department to join the 21st century, preparing programs, yearbooks, game inserts, game rosters, keeping up with new requirements from conferences and CIS, writing 10 releases in a day while setting up broadcast equipment at one event and going on-air while checking in by phone/computer to see if your other live event and/or broadcast is going well ... etc. etc. etc. etc.

Remember, there are still some schools where the SID is also the Marketing Person!!!! Yes, I know ... hard to believe in the 21st Century.

What do SIDs sacrifice? Social life, hobbies, hair loss for men, grey hair for both sexes, sometimes health challenges due to lack of time (ironic considering the chosen field, no?), those with families lose a lot of quality time with their partners and kids because they are usually always working, etc. etc. etc. etc.

What challenges does an SID face? Lack of sleep, lack of time, lack of volunteers, lack of budget, lack of equipment, lack of staff, lack of energy, lack of respect, lack of input, abundance of complaints from fans if anything goes wrong, abundance of complaints from coaches who feel their team isn't getting the coverage it deserves, abundance of e-mails (thousands), abundance of complaints from university staff for no apparent reason and usually for something that has nothing to do with sports info, abundance of phone calls, low pay, old beat up equipment breaking down, part-time staff not showing up, volunteers not showing up, Internet crashing during game time, lighting hits the arena and knocks out the power, broadcast equipment is stolen, etc. etc. etc. etc.

I would like to take this opportunity to challenge any Athletic Directors in the CIS who may not be paying their SID enough or giving her or him the equipment or support she or he needs, to step up, to man or woman up, and start delivering. If the CIS and its member schools wants to really upgrade their product, sports information is one of the most crucial components and until all CIS schools have modern, well equipped, and well supported Sports Info Departments; the CIS will still be a minor player in the Canadian sportscape.

To those schools that still do so, if you want your SID to truly be able to do her or his job, s/he must only be an SID and not a combo SID and marketing person. That ship sailed in the 1990s. It is time to join the 21st century!

Also, on the note of lack of genuine SID appreciation (not the countless “good jobs” in lieu of the equipment/staff/budget you need for pulling another miracle Red Green duct tape fix out of some orifice for the 1,000th), have you ever noticed that in the CIS and the various conferences there are awards for athletes (should be), coaches (also should be), but also tons of awards for builders, journalists, alumni, blah blah blah blah.

Noticeably absent is the lack of an award for the hardest working people in the CIS, the SIDs?

I am sure many SIDs would appreciate hitting the links and prime nosh at a posh resort during an annual conference or CIS AGM. Just saying ...

The CIS, conferences, and schools could start this new award this year by voting all the SIDs in the CIS co-winners for 2010 and sending them all on an all expenses paid two-week vacation to Vegas and give them lots of chips...that would be a good start...and a well deserved one...

To close; maybe the next time you run into a CIS sports information director, you could let that individual know you appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears shed by the Happy Few, this band of brothers and sisters ...

(Mike Aylward was sports information director at Lakehead University for eight years. His opinion column, From The Middle of Nowhere, will appear regularly on The CIS Blog.)
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  1. Nice post - good to see someone highlight the efforts of the many SIDs across this country who don't get a lot of recognition. Sports info. is a key part of making CIS sport more mainstream and this touches on pretty much everything the SIDs encounter and highlights how much more attention the sports info. deptartments at schools need.

  2. can't say i disagree with the amount of work an SID does or how they are sometimes underappreciated, but c'mon, half of the SIDs in the country are useless and all of them have a "woe is me" complex...including the author.

  3. You might at least have a name to stand behind that comment.

  4. Hey Anonymous,

    I stand behind what I say and I don't sign Anonymously;...and I don't have a woe is me complex, this colum reflects the fact that the CIS wants NCAA level info without budget or support in many fact it is woe is the CIS...

    Mike Aylward,