Tuesday, February 24, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Diving into Less Popular Sports

by JJ Andersen

Swimming and diving…? You lost my attention already.

Unless you’re talking about Michael Phelps, that is the thought that came to my mind. That was before I covered the OU Women’s Swimming and Diving team this week. Speaking with the head coach, Greg Werner, helped me understand the ins and outs of the sport.

Coach Greg Werner is excited about the team's opportunity

Since the OU Athletic Department cuts two years ago, the women’s program is the only remaining team for the sport. Like me, it may be news to you that the OU team won the 2008 MAC Championship. Why is it that some of the most successful OU teams go unnoticed? Revenue, exposure and popularity may help explain this.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of ignoring the “less important” or “unfamiliar” sports. If you grew up around football and baseball, why would you care about sports like wrestling and swimming? From my experience reporting for Athens MidDay so far, I’ve already noticed what great stories these less featured sports teams make. It’s clear that the players and coaches really appreciate the time you’re putting in to cover them. The senior captain, Ashley Marion, is ready for what may be her final meet as a Bobcat.

Senior Captain Ashley Marion is ready for her last MAC Tournament

So let’s be real, how hard can college swimming be? Actually, much more difficult than I thought. Breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle at all different distances, WOW! Now think of your favorite sport and imagine playing it in four different styles. Yeah that’s what I thought; what if I was only allowed to run backwards on a 200 yard field as a football player?

I’m not making excuses, because I have been just as negligent following these sports. But, OU’s swimming and diving team is headed off to win another MAC Championship and it’s about time we recognize these success stories.

2009 MAC Championship

When: Wednesday, Feb 25 thru Saturday, Feb 28

: BGSU Student Recreation Center, Bowling Green, Ohio

Who: OU and 7 other MAC teams

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