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ACentral ponders use of webcasts

October 17, 2011

    South Adams does it, Parkway in Ohio has done it, and Adams Central may start doing it.
    "It" means live online broadcasts of high school events, primarily sports, that can be seen on computer screens anywhere in the world.
    The Berne Tri-Weekly News started doing what are called "webcasts" a year and a half ago of South Adams varsity football games and has expanded to do live broadcasts of plays, graduations, and even such Berne community events as the Swiss Days parade.
    The newspaper charges a fee to South Adams Schools for such webcasts and also sells advertising that's shown during the games, just like on television.
    At the October meeting of the AC school board, Clint Anderson, Tri-Weekly editor, and Seth Sprunger, who works with the webcasts, spoke to the board. Sprunger noted that this year's AC-SA football game drew the largest number of viewers since the service started: 8,500.
    Sprunger said, for instance, that a number of South Adams alumni now living in Indianapolis gather each Friday night to watch the school's Starfires play on the gridiron. The webcasts also cover all SAHS varsity boys' basketball games and girls' home varsity games, plus SA track meets and softball games.
    He and Anderson made clear that there is no way to copy of a webcast for future use, so viewers can only see a broadcast once.
    The AC board did not make any decision on the matter, but board member John Sipe said, "I like the idea" and board president Wes Kuntzman called the webcasts "a neat idea." AC Superintendent Mike Pettibone said this is "a positive idea."
    Anderson and Sprunger said the announcers who do the sports webcasts are unabashed and quite biased fans of the home team and make that clear in the excitement of their voices and their commentaries during the games. Thus, if Adams Central were to begin webcasting sports, announcers favorable toward the school would do the broadcasts. "It's all about Adams Central," said Sprunger.
    It was stated that some athletic directors have worried that allowing webcasts would reduce attendance at games, but that has not been the case, according to Anderson and Sprunger.
    Anderson also told the AC board, "You can control who broadcasts" and can even go to court to stop people from broadcasting games live on cellular telephones, which he says some people do now.
    Anderson said that when regular seasons end and Sectionals start, the Indiana High School Athletic Association gets involved, with per-game fees charged by the IHSAA for webcasts.
    The Berne editor added that the webcasts are a free offering on the newspaper's website to attract viewers.

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