Throughout this high school football season I have been asked about the games we stream each week as part of the “Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week” program.  These broadcasts have become more important than ever because of the limits on attendance with most games played in front of some parents, students and a handful of others totaling less than 500. In some cases, the visiting team is getting only 100 of those tickets which means even some parents are missing their children’s games.

Those who reach out to me regarding our game schedule usually start the conversation by being critical that the game they want to see has been left off the list. Fortunately, after spending a few minutes on the phone or in an email they have a better understanding of our situation.

Let’s start with the obvious. We provide a free platform for these games which is not the case with some other broadcasting options. The Shore Sports Network relies on the support of sponsors who obviously want to reach the largest possible audience, so part of the decision making when it comes to the schedule is trying to offer ones that the general public has an interest in, which usually involves the top teams.

However, that is only a small part of the equation. Many Shore Conference schools are now partnering with a third-party streaming company which provides access to games on a subscription basis. It also means we can’t do a game from that facility, which prohibits us from broadcasting home games of teams such as Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic, Shore Regional, Middletown North/South, Long Branch, Central Regional and Wall. As a matter of fact, the first game we put on our schedule this fall was Friday’s Manasquan-Wall contest…we have broadcast the Thanksgiving Day version of this game for about 15 years. However, in the last couple of weeks Wall signed a contract that knocked us out of the press box.

Many other schools are now doing their own streaming through different platforms and with limited space it does not allow us to have the access we need. This has all been magnified by COVID-19 in which the number of people in press boxes has been greatly reduced to maintain social distancing. I’m sure most of you are aware that many of the schools in the Shore have old and very small facilities which don’t meet our needs.

So what it comes down to is the Shore Sports Network has limited options and finding a quality game that is available to us has become challenging. When we lost the Manasquan-Wall game it meant finding the best one that worked for all involved so on Saturday we will be at Donovan Catholic where the 4-0 Griffins host Southern Regional (3-1). As for next week…well I’ll let you know as soon as we figure it out.

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