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Practice Counts When It Comes To Covering Training Camp

Recently, I was listening to a sports-talk show and the host opened a particular segment talking about training camp.  

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Being football starved (like the rest of the country), my ears perked up.

Instead of going into an interesting storyline or discussion, the host ranted about how training camp is a waste of time.  He noted that he never talked much football until the regular season started. With players not even in pads, how can anyone tell how good or bad they are going to be?

The Program Director in me did a facepalm.  

Blowing off coverage of training camp is akin to walking past someone who wants to give you a bag full of cash.  This is the ultimate example of where you must feed the beast.  Nothing moves the needle like football, no matter what part of the country you are in.  The National Football League has been the unquestioned national pastime in this country for decades.  That trend isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The overall number of people that consume sports media ratchets up to another level once NFL teams hit the practice field. This creates a huge opportunity for brands to not only gain new listeners but new revenue as well. It’s a party hosts need to show up early to.  

You can’t live on that age-old line of “Practices don’t count” or “Pre-season games don’t matter.”  You must develop the content because that’s what listeners are starving for.

Even markets whose teams are ticketed for last place are no exception.

As a long-suffering Lions fan, I’m aware that my team is going to be hot garbage this season (as usual).  That hasn’t stopped me from checking in on every training camp story I can find daily.  

Speaking of which, now more than ever, storylines are easy to cultivate…even if they don’t involve something that happened at practice.  

Fantasy football is being segmented in so many ways and with so many different leagues (I have two that I’ll be joining). Sports betting has created its own wave of content that people are looking for.  

The topic tree is full of ripe content.  It’s only a matter of reaching up to grab it.

The excitement around the start of the football season holds true even if the MLB team in town is winning.  Believe me, I know because I’m in the middle of one of those truly unique situations here in the Windy City.  

Chicago is headed towards what could be a blockbuster autumn when it comes to the current state of sports.  Both baseball teams are still very much relevant.  The Cubs just broke up the team that won a World Series in 2016 (breaking the collective hearts of their fan base in the process).  The White Sox are in first place in the AL Central and look poised to be a legit World Series contender for the next couple of years. 

Despite the recent justified buzz around both baseball teams, both sports stations in town are invested heavily in Bears coverage as the team conducts training camp in Lake Forest.  Baseball isn’t being put on the backburner, but both brands know that the content battle must be fought on multiple fronts.  

I remember when I was in Pittsburgh as the PD of 93.7 The Fan, the Pirates were in the middle of their first legit playoff race in 21 years.  That didn’t stop me from sending as many of our shows as I could to Latrobe to cover Steelers training camp.  I remember once when one of my hosts wasn’t particularly happy to make the long drive or do a show in hot, humid conditions.  

Steelers Training Camp | Schedule & Parking in Latrobe, PA

“Wait till your numbers come out,” I replied.  “You’ll thank me later when you get your bonus.”

Ryan Maguire
Ryan Maguire
Ryan Maguire is a columnist for BSM, and a longtime sports and news radio program director. He has managed KIRO-FM in Seattle, WQAM in Miami, 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 105.7/1250 The Fan in Milwaukee. Presently, Ryan serves as the Executive Producer of Chicago White Sox baseball on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. Originally from Michigan, Ryan still holds out hope that the Detroit Lions will one day deliver a Super Bowl title. He can be reached on Twitter @RMaguire1701.

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