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Murray Journal

Cameras in the gym are for more than streaming your games

Feb 18, 2021 02:17PM ● By Greg James

If you see this camera in a high school gym, it is not the FBI spying on your life. It is a new tool to help coaches and live stream games. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James |  [email protected] 

An unwanted side-effect of a worldwide pandemic: empty bleachers at sporting events because rules won’t allow fans.

“It stinks,” a Cyprus wrestling fan and co-parent Jaylnn Merrill said. “We get one ticket, and some of the larger events don’t allow fans.”

“It’s horrible,” Sara Harding said. “There are only like four of us cheering and clapping.”

Schools across the state were forced to minimize interaction because of social-distancing rules. The large student sections and cheering parents had to be eliminated to reduce exposure.

To increase opportunities for student-athlete interaction, schools have embarked on a previously tried feature of live streaming their events.

“As long as the event is held in the main gym, we can stream it,” Cyprus Athletic Director Chaine Henson said. “We installed a camera, and it is super easy to stream from there.”

YouTube and other streaming services have become the home to local high school sports.

“This year, COVID and the restrictions on attendance were catalysts on stream becoming more mainstream,” Hudl Focus General Manager Greg Nelson said. “I find there is a broader community of students, alumni and community members that would like to connect with the activities. Our program has taken a huge step forward in that this year.”

Hudl provides video review and performance analysis tools for sports teams and athletes at entry-level.

“Our primary vision is to help coaches,” Nelson said. “They can record their own games and practices. The coach can start a recording from his phone during practice. When the drill is done, they can immediately review the drill they just did. It is a good teaching skill.” 

“It has been a great tool,” Cyprus boys head coach Tre Smith said. “It is definitely worth the money.”

The company has installed over 3,400 cameras in schools around the country, and to date, more than 205,000 games and practices have been recorded.

“Our business has nearly doubled in the last few months,” Nelson said.

The program has been used for more than just athletics, dance concerts and music performances. It has also opened up new opportunities for students interested in broadcasting.

“As part of the streaming service preroll audio, static ads and play-by-play can be integrated,” Nelson said. “At some schools, the students have taken over. It is interesting to see how creative schools have gotten. I have seen computer classes take ownership of the broadcast. I have also seen it add revenue to the school through pregame ads.” 

Schools now have their own YouTube channels that carry the games. 

Depending on the camera location, it can run between $2,000 and $3,500 to have the system installed.

“We knew that this year was going to be hard for school budgets,” Nelson said. “We began the ‘Return to Play’ program, an upgrade for our athletic department application. I think remote coaching and live streaming has never been more important.”

Hudl plays a vital role in recruiting. An online presence for players and teams is an essential tool for student-athletes to gain opportunities on the next level.

“College coaches can no longer travel as much, so evaluating players relies on video,” Nelson said. “The future of sports is ‘I am going to show up for practice and know that it is being recorded,’”