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MAILBAG! DII realignment, Olympic Sports on TV, and more

and FINE I'll answer a few video game questions too

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

I’m finally off the road, I’m properly caffeinated, and I’m ready to get back to filing FOIAs, sending out interview pitches, finding stories and pounding the pavement.

Since a few of the reported stories I’m working on need a teensy bit more time to cook, I figured now would be a great time to open the ol’ mailbag and answer some of your questions. As always, feel free to DM me questions or send me an email at [email protected] 

Reader Jim asks,

What else did college swim coaches want to talk about besides employment/rev share/structural changes to college sports?

Great question. I was very happy to be able to spend even just a little bit of time with college swim coaches this week, because I am not as deeply sourced in that sport as I’d like to be. As you’d imagine, many of them did want to talk about structural changes (that’s why I was invited, after all), but two other themes came up in regular conversation.

  • How to improve the visibility of championship events? Whether it’s college baseball, college beach volleyball, or virtually anything else, fan engagement improves when fans can easily find the events on TV. The quality of streaming has improved over the last few years, but administrators across the board continue to believe that any sporting event will get more eyeballs on ESPNU or elsewhere on linear TV than on any streaming platform.

In 2023, while ESPNU showed a highlights show, the actual live events themselves were on ESPN+. Coaches would love for more live swimming events to be shown on linear television, and I’m told are even open to looking at structural changes to championship events to better accommodate television partners. What that might look like, and what sort of push/pull between ESPN, academic calendars, pool availability and more, is worth following.

  • Coaches are also burned out. There’s been a lot of talk about athlete mental health challenges, as there should be. Between high pressures of athletic performance, academic performance, NIL, injuries, and also everything that comes with being 19 years old in America, many athletes report feelings of burnout, loneliness, despair, and more. Breaking the stigma and talking about those feelings more is a positive step, but all of college sports is still working on moving beyond the awareness stage and more into the treatment and support stage.

But that isn’t just about athletes. I’ve heard industry folks talk about how many athletic trainers are suffering from the same mental health and burnout challenges, as well as sports communication professionals. But this also came up from swim coaches. Balancing elite competitive standards, fundraising, NIL, international recruitment, all of the problems that come from being responsible for a cadre of 20-year-olds, long hours, low pay and low job security and everything else…is pushing some coaches (particularly assistants) to the brink.

As an industry, college sports is terrible at giving anybody the freedom and leeway to do less. This is never going to be an industry where everybody can clock in at nine and clock out at five, but better balance isn’t just important for the athletes, but for everybody who support them. I am confident that’s not a problem unique to swimming.

Every third person on the internet also asked:


Let me try to answer a bunch of these at once.

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