Live streaming changes sports landscape at BA


Kerry Naylor

several padcasters purchased yb the school district have revolutionized the way high school sports can be shared with the BA community.

Jayden Bartlebaugh, Staff Writer

Bellwood-Antis’ sports seasons have had their ups and downs during the COVID-19 pandemic, from school shutdowns to empty gymnasiums and stadiums, but one big issue from the early days of conducting sports amid strict social distancing guidelines has turned into a bright spot in the darkness of the health crisis: live-streaming athletic events.

Now it seems Bellwood’s live streaming is here to stay.

Throughout the winter sports season Bellwood-Antis has provided free live streams of all home sporting events on its YouTube channel.

In the beginning there were a lot of issues, like streaming quality and connection, but that was when events were being streamed from outside the school building at Memorial Stadium. Now that a lot of sports are inside it is easier for the district to stream games via its YouTube channel.

To broadcast games live, high school principal Mr. Richard Schreier & Athletic Director Mr. Charlie Burch are using a device called a padcaster,  which is is an iPad that is equipped with a microphone, a lens, and tripod. It is essentially a mobile video production unit that fits in line with the district’s 1-to-1 use of iPads.

Already this winter the district has broadcast live coverage of all of the boys and girls home basketball games along with wrestling matches and the viewership is strong. The Lady Blue Devil basketball team regularly gets more than 400 views per game, topping out with more than 900 views for their game against Juniata Valley and more than 850 for their game against Tyrone.

The boys basketballl team had more than 600 views when it played Mount Union, while the wrestling team had 656 views for its match against Mount Union.

But what’s in store for the future?  The district is  hoping to take the live broadcasts to the next level by to having groups of students  work on filming games. Some the future plans include setting up multiple camera angles, adding additional graphics of a scoreboard shot and pre-recorded clips.

Mr. Schreier is also planning to form a team of commenters for production, a group that could would perform play-by-play and color commentary. BluePrint staffers Zach Miller and Jack Luensmann conducted play-by-play and color commentary for the first time last week during the B-A girls game against Portage and it went well.

Mr. Schreier said he would also like to build a dependable team of staff and students, possibly from the BAHS Tech Club or BluePrint staff.

Some of the major challenges will be finding people to help film. There is also still the issue of filming in both the high school and middle school simultaneously, since basketball takes place in the high school and wrestling in the middle school, and they often occur on the same night.

Recently organizers found they can stream two events at once, but it requires two devices. The district purchased three padcasters at the beginning of the year, so equipment will not be a hinderance.

There are challenges, as well. Schools that continue live streams of sporting events risk losing gate revenue if people choose to stay home even after things open up. Some schools have considered making live stream access a part an all-sports pass, while others have considered monetizing their live streams through selling ads.

“We are looking into all options for next year and in the future with livestreaming,” said Mr. Burch.  “There is potential to sell advertising with some of the systems available.  We might lose some attendance, but I still think that most people love the live atmosphere of being in person once things return to ‘normal.'”