TullyRunners -  Article


ESPNHS-DyeStat Web-Site Closure & Thoughts

by Bill Meylan (June 16, 2012)


On June 13, 2012 USA Today reported that ESPN would be closing their high school web-site and magazines in mid-September ... the article is available at: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2012/06/espn-closing-its-high-school-business-unit/1#.T9k6Cr9FuRs

According to the article, "ESPN is closing its high school business unit, reports SportsBusiness Daily, which includes its ESPNHS.com website, two magazines and its event management service, which staged all-star events and high school games at Disney World. With the closing in mid-September, about 75 staffers will lose their jobs."

My first thought was surprise ... My next thought involved the Tully boy's XC team who were considering a trip to the Disney XC Meet in October ... I informed Coach Paccia that alternative plans might be necessary.

Why is the ESPN HS-DyeStat closing?? ... I do not know why and have not read any explanation (as yet) ... However, I am assuming it has something to do with money when 75 people lose their jobs ... Large corporations do sponsor "financially losing" units when they can produce advertising or publicity benefits, so I'm guessing the ESPN high school unit was costing too much money.

The initial ESPN-Rise-DyeStat Track & XC web-site got off to a shaky start when ESPN provided a forum board that was sub-standard compared to the previous DyeStat forum board ... First impressions do matter sometimes, and the slow ESPN response basically destroyed the huge "community feel" of the old DyeStat viewership ... and much of the previous DyeStat forum viewership deserted the ESPN forum even though ESPN belatedly fixed the forum board.

Some people believe that Facebook, Twitter and other social media helped kill the ESPNHS web-site ... I believe they can contribute to lower message board use, but I don't see how they affect the news and article content usage (e.g. full results, authored articles, video, photos, etc).

I visit the ESPNHS web-site frequently to get results, see rankings & postings from Rob Monroe (watchout), read articles (and occasionally watch Nicole Haynes) ... I read where John Dye may re-start DyeStat ... it will be interesting to see what format emerges because John Dye did such a great job with DyeStat.

Implications for TullyRunners.com ... The closing of ESPNHS.com has no effect on plans for TullyRunners ... I expect TullyRunners will continue as before, e.g. being maintained  by one senile guy who mumbles speed ratings in his sleep.

TullyRunners is strictly a content providing web-site (results, rankings, schedules, info, articles and speed ratings ... no videos, audio, music and limited photos plus no message board) ... TullyRunners accepts no advertising or sponsorship (and never will) and has no problems with monetary issues ... Thus, the number of visitors (or lack of visitors) is not really a concern.

TullyRunners publishes content for a small "niche market" of viewers (primarily NYers interested in high school XC and track) ... It was never intended to appeal to the general public ... When I started TullyRunners in 2000, the purpose was to cover high school cross country in the central New York area and evaluate (rank) cross country performances using a new concept called "Speed Ratings" that I adapted from horse racing.

TullyRunners & Speed Ratings have gained a decent viewership which is a whole lot larger than I ever expected ... Not surprisingly, viewership is always highest during cross country season ... I'm occasionally asked about the viewership numbers of TullyRunners, so for those interested, here are the approximate numbers:

 35,000 - 52,500 ... Unique visitors during any week in XC 2011 season
 27,500 ... Unique visitors during last two weeks May 2012
 16,000 - 20,000 ... Unique visitors per month during indoor track

The basic format (look & feel) of TullyRunners has not changed since I started the web-site ... Several people have offered to re-design the web-site to make it more modern, but I'm old and set-in-my-ways ... If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

In my opinion, one initial problem with the ESPNHS.com Track & XC web-site was its "variance" from the DyeStat web-site it was replacing ... People get familiar with something they use frequently, and the DyeStat viewership moving to ESPNHS.com found something unfamiliar ... That's not necessarily bad if the update is a recognizable improvement ... Unfortunately, the old DyeStat viewership was initially presented with something unfamiliar, lacking in features for the target viewership, harder to navigate, and a forum inferior in quality (ouch) ... Improvements were made (eventually), and I thought it was a great high school resource!

Cross country fans are going miss Rob Monroe (watchout), his team rankings and meet evaluations with respect to speed ... I would love to see DyeStat restarted with watchout having his own dedicated section, or his own web-site somewhere ...Unless you have done it yourself, it is hard to comprehend the amount of time required to do something similar ... I nearly closed TullyRunners several times because the time requirements during XC season are burdensome, but I didn't because I'm truly crazy ... with watchout, it's comforting to know somebody may be crazier than me.

Upcoming for TullyRunners

As of mid-June 2012, I'm starting to prepare the Individual XC profiles that I post each summer as part of the XC pre-season ... Mid-July is the expected posting timeframe.

I expect to post pre-season team rankings for both New York and Nationally ... Fayetteville-Manlius Girls will be #1 ... maybe a few surprises (one of the Saratoga girls has transferred to Holy Names, but Saratoga will still be very good).

A few articles will likely get posted as well.

Wish List

My real job keeps getting in the way, but it does give me ideas ... I'm technically an Environmental Scientist ... (sorry to be technical)  I work with databases of chemical property data used for predicting and assessing chemical fate and transport in the environment ... I do model development, associated computer programming and evaluations ... A recent idea is having software access databases and re-regress model equations "on-the-fly" as new data gets introduced.

Well ... an adapted version of this methodology could be used to generate Speed Ratings automatically for most high school races assuming full results are available in an acceptable format:

1. Guessing that it would be acceptably accurate for about 90% of races (sometimes manual intervention is necessary)
2. Generation of so-so user-friendly software (downloadable for interested people) would probably take me a few months minimum.
3. I'm considering it ... National coverage during the XC season could be expanded.
4. I would do it for myself right now, but I don't have the time or desire.




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