In my blog last week I was a bit foolish. I threw down the gauntlet. I made a statement that said the Mustang Daily would provide the best coverage of the soccer match against UC Santa Barbara on Friday night.
Within five minutes, Walter’s outstretched arm, accompanied by a ball sitting in the net, blared across the Mustang Daily homepage, our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. How do I know it was so fast?
Max was back on field level by the time Patrick Sigler buried his penalty kick.
After the game, sports reporter Stephan Teodosescu arrived at the Cal Poly locker room to find the team dancing and cheering in a scene normally reserved for championship winning teams … minus the champagne. Now that’s how you open a game-story.
Two hours after Zeronian, Teodosescu and I left Spanos for the newsroom, the Mustang Daily’s site and accompanying social networks had a full story, complete with quotes from Walters, Sigler and head coach Paul Holocher, and more than 40 edited photos.
My job during the after-match elation? I had some time … and felt like joining the student body on the field, so I ran down and began collecting stories from fans. Cal Poly football team member Asa Jackson was there celebrating the team’s victory more than if it was his own.
A gorilla danced with forward George Malki in the middle of a circle comprised of onlookers.
Cal Poly soccer recruits looked on in disbelief. Their expressions were worth a thousand words, but mostly said, “I could play soccer here, in front of these crazy fans? Yeah, I’m in.”
Director of athletics Don Oberhelman, whose office has a picture of the fans during the 2010 match against Santa Barbara despite the fact he has only held his post for five months, said the rivalry outdid his extremely high expectations.
Maybe it was the magic of Spanos, maybe it was the pride I had in the Mustang Daily staff in their coverage, and maybe I’m making another foolish statement. But I think that, maybe, just maybe, we are entering a new age of Cal Poly athletics.
An age where athletes, reporters and fans combine to give what Oberhelman said he hoped was “the time of their lives.”
Not in the sense that the media is complicit in generating propaganda, but in the sense that the Mustang Daily truthfully reported the unique atmosphere in Alex G. Spanos Stadium that night. I challenge any “unbiased” observer to tell me it was just another game.
Can I be right twice? I think that’s for you to decide.