December 3, 2015 • Athletic AdministrationTechnology

Why athletic directors must embrace technology

It’s not likely you have ever heard of an athletic director with a relaxed, laid-back job. Athletic directors wear numerous hats — logistics, personnel decisions, scheduling, solving the occasional unforeseen crisis. Amid it all, they are responsible for communication between all the stakeholders of a high school athletic program, which include students, parents, alumni, coaches and administrators.

Coach_computerTimes have changed, and expectations have evolved when it comes to communication. Parents want to check game scores on their phones and stream live video at the office while students want interactive databases of stats to show recruiters and friends.

As expectations change, so must the strategies. In the same way athletic directors don’t send an email with pencil and paper, they shouldn’t try to communicate effectively with today’s parents by dialing a phone. A higher level of technology is required to communicate all that’s happening with interscholastic athletics.

For athletic directors, the proper use of technology can free up time in busy schedules, prevent clerical errors and result in higher satisfaction across the board. They will spend less time putting out fires and more time being proactive, which means investing more time in the future of their programs without neglecting the present.

Social media used to be a liability for athletic departments, but that’s no longer the case. Things like group messaging and social platforms are now critical communication tools that allow athletic directors to devote more time toward improving their on-field product and less time giving visitors directors to your gym. Leveraging the latest technology produces a wonderful snowball effect. When your programs improve, your teams win. When your teams win, more students want to play. And when more students want to play, your funding increases.

Still, when athletic directors are running at top speed to keep an athletic department operating smoothly, technology can seem difficult, and getting started is often the hardest part. In a world of continual technological advancements, it can be hard to know the full scope of the options available, where to find them and which tools are right for you.

There is technology designed to simplify most activities in the athletic office. Whether you’re a savvy veteran or just starting out, the technology you choose depends on the specific needs of the program. For example, a school with in-house video streaming might not need a new service for sports video, but it could potentially improve its communication channels through social media or group messaging. Similarly, a school with great systems around scheduled communication might start by improving its record-keeping practices through an online student management system. And if the in-house communication processes are solid, think of the families. Completing registration paperwork by hand is more burdensome than necessary, especially when more and more schools are switching to online sports registration.

Change doesn’t have to be hard. Determining the program’s greatest needs and incorporating tech accordingly will push the program in the right direction.

Here are a few of the top resources out there designed to help athletic programs.

  • Varsity News Network. The website that runs itself, this allows athletic administrators to have a collegiate-level sports information hub without all the work. Scores and schedules are updated automatically, saving administrators time.
  • GameChanger. A mobile app with a corresponding website, GameChanger allows coaches and players to record stats in real time while providing game updates and recap stories for families and friends. Basically, you can offer real-time scores for the whole community.
  • rSchoolToday. By combining education and sports schedules, this website makes it easier for coaches, players, parents and faculty to keep track of who should be where and when. It offers digital schedule management and much more.
  • The Cube. The latest in online broadcasting, The Cube focuses on televising major high school events ranging from games to graduations. It offers streaming video for those who can’t make it to the game.
  • Hudl. This video analysis program helps coaches and players view playbacks and stats to stay up-to-date with performance and to identify areas for improvement. This is the leading video technology for football programs.

If athletic directors are not moving forward to embrace the latest tools, technology can leave them behind. Work more efficiently by taking advantage of the latest technology, and free up time to build a program that the school and community will remember forever.

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