By Joseph Hughes
When the Ohio Bobcat football team defeated Southeast Missouri to begin its 2003 season, fans in attendance at Peden Stadium had as much to cheer about off the field as on it.
A state-of-the-art video wall – made possible by Ohio University's recent pouring rights agreement with Pepsi-Cola – gave spectators a new reason to stand up and cheer for the Bobcats. Replays of big plays, game statistics, scores and lively animations turned many heads during the 17-3 Ohio win. "The video boards looked great," said Bobcat fan and Ohio University alumnus Ted Thompson. "I think they have become a necessary part of the entertainment package that needs to be delivered at sporting events. Ohio always seems to be about a year ahead in facilities improvements compared to other Mid-American Conference schools. Last year it was the FieldTurf and this year the video board."
Another noteworthy advantage offered by the video boards is the use of student crewmembers working on each production. Ranging from camera operators to technical directors to animation and replay producers, as many as seven Ohio University students fill the 10-person game crew.
"The equipment we're using is the same as used by other major sports venues across the country," said student Stephanie Miller in a news release about the video boards. "This experience offers the hands-on, active learning experience that brings to life what I learn in the classroom and lab and gives me the edge that employers seek."
Tomorrow's game is also groundbreaking for Ohio University, as Minnesota becomes the first-ever Big 10 opponent to travel to Athens. The game, which begins at 3 p.m., will be televised as part of ESPN's GamePlan package -- bringing the Bobcats into living rooms nationwide.
The television coverage means another opportunity to gain valuable experience for Ohio University students. The Ohio Sports Network, producers of the broadcast, makes student crewmembers the rule, not the exception.
"The value of the Ohio Sports Network experience has always been that it places students in a professional setting, complete with all of the pressures, deadlines, personalities and variables that you normally encounter on a live broadcast," said Hub Burton, vice president for University Advancement and OSN play-by-play commentator.
"Whether it's on the sidelines as a reporter, in the truck as a technical director or operating a camera, OSN offers an unmatched opportunity to test your talents, your skills and your new knowledge against industry standards."
Joseph Hughes is a writer with University Communications and Marketing.