Guest Blog following a Flyers win and a shoving match between coach and player
In some circles it's called crowdsourcing. In others it's called engaging your readership.
Well, I stuck my neck out tonight and took it a step further.
I got a fan a press credential and put him to work.
Rob Rowello, a South Philly native and resident of Wyncote, PA was in Dallas on business Wednesday and was looking for a ticket to the game.
I had a proposition - come to the game and write me a story for my blog. Rob agreed. And then went a lot further.
Who knew that on this night there would be a run in between Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Dallas Stars alternate captain Steve Ott?
With Claude Giroux returning from a concussion, I couldn't be in two places at the same time. So, I dispatched Rowello to the Stars locker room where he shot the video you'll see below and even asked Ott the direct question about the incident.
He then quickly posted the video to you tube where we exclusively tweeted it out.
All the while, he wrote a fine piece about his experience. Here it is below. Thanks Rob for the fine work.
Oh, and follow him on Twitter: @Rowello
Special Contributor to the Daily Times
DALLAS – It’s not every day when an average hockey fan like me gets a chance to experience an NHL game live from the press box. So when I recently got a call from my friend and former St. Joe’s Prep classmate, Anthony SanFilippo, who asked me to join him in Dallas to offer a “fan’s perspective” on how the media covers a hockey game, it was an offer I could not pass up, right?
I guess you can call me your typical 38-year-old Philadelphia sports fan - born and raised in South Philly on the Bullies (my mom still swears that she took me to the parade in ‘74) and the Flyers teams of the late 80’s (when we last had great goaltending).
Like most of us, I bleed orange and black, and have been to my fair share of games, experienced the highs of championship expectations, and suffered through the lows of heartbreaking endings. So, the idea of inviting me as a member of the “press” to cover a Flyers game was a very strange proposition for me.
I’ve heard from journalists before that once you cross over into the media, you become desensitized to the game and see things a lot differently. Plus acting like a “fan” in the press box is a no-no. The thought of me being at a Flyers game and not being able to cheer is like asking a hungry bear to not eat a trapped rabbit. Nature just doesn’t work that way. Usually.
So my journey into a “day in the life” of a beat writer started at the hotel, where I met up with Anthony before the game. For a typical fan like me, my game day experience starts at 7:05PM by turning on CSN or Versus.
I always knew that there was preparation required to cover a sports team like the Flyers, but I never realized how much preparation actually goes into it. Most journalists start their day by reading the opposing team’s home papers to get some insight and angles on the game. Then there’s the “morning skate sessions”, where the media is invited to cover the team during practice and interview the players afterward.
And the neverending tweets and the phone calls. It’s a 24/7 job, and every avenue is covered to bring the readers a unique perspective on the team and the game.
Two hours prior to puck drop, we arrived at the American Airlines Center to get some interview time with the coach and the players. I picked up my press credentials, and for a minute I actually felt official. We found our way to the press elevator, down to the “event level” where we made our way over to the Flyers locker room. After a quick chat with the Flyers media staff, an interview with Scotty Hartnell, and a bite to eat in the press dining room we headed up to the press box.
The one thing that stuck with me was how tightly knit the Philadelphia press community is. For a minute during dinner, I had a flashback of sitting around a table in my college cafeteria with some of my closest friends – the banter, stories, jokes.
The box at American Airlines Center is pretty spacious. Not as cramped and crowded as I imagined a press box being. To put things in perspective, the box is at the very top of the stadium (beyond the $9 cheap seats they sell here in Dallas), and there are two parallel rows of 90’ Formica countertops, with a bunch of really cheap (and very uncomfortable) desk chairs. I was assigned seat #18. I set up my laptop and iPad, and was ready for some action!
At 0:56 into the first period, Dallas drew first blood when Michael Ryder beat Sergei Bobrovsky glove side high. I stayed composed, no comments from the peanut gallery. At 8:30 in the first period, when Claude Giroux scored his first goal after returning to the lineup, my juices started flowing. Under my breath, I let out a slightly audible “yes!!”, but didn’t get any funny looks in the box.
I didn’t really cross the line until around 14:00 into the second period when Bobrovsky made two fantastic point-blank saves, and instinct kicked in hard. The bear ate the rabbit, and I bellowed out a big “yeah Bob!!” from the rafters, which drew a laugh and a head shake from Anthony.
By 5:22 into the third period, this game was pretty much history when Meszaros scored his 4th goal of the season to make it 4-1 Flyers. One final note on Giroux: I had my reservations when the Flyers announced he was coming back to the lineup this week, as I thought it was premature and rushed for an injury of his severity. But after putting up four points tonight, in an amazing show of skill, it’s clear the man is ready to play.
After the game, I had a chance to put my interviewing skills to the test. Anthony took the Flyers’ dressing room, and asked me to cover the Stars’ players, and specifically try to get something from Steve Ott on his brief exchange with Peter Laviolette at the end of the first period.
iPhone in hand, I muscled my way into the scrum of reporters in front of Ott, and fired away with a very succinct, yet point blank question, to which I got a very surprising reply. If you’re interested in the video, check it out on YouTube: “Steve Ott goes off on Laviolette”. (or see the video below)
So, in short, tonight’s “behind the scenes” experience was nothing short of impressive. I walk away tonight with a new respect for the men and women who work long hours and travel thousands of miles to bring home the stories for the teams we love. This is definitely every bit of a full time job, and I have witnessed the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to bring you that back page article. For me, I’m not quitting my day job. I think I’ll leave this one to the professionals and find a seat back on the couch.