Monday, February 23, 2009

TV or Not TV

Saturday night I watched several future college wrestlers on television. Once again, all finals matches of the Iowa High School Wrestling Tournament were broadcast live. Future Golden Gopher Bart Reiter joined his brother Mack as a 4-time state champ – making them the only two brothers to win four titles in Iowa. Cyclone recruit, Trent Weatherman won a title as did Hawkeye signee, Dylan Carew and Des Moines Roosevelt’s, John Nicholson, who will be joining his brother at Old Dominion University. Many of the athletes I watched will go on to be the mainstays of future Iowa Conference programs for years to come.

The finals were broadcast by The Iowa High School Sports Network, a cooperative venture of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Iowa-based Krogman and Associates. Since 2006 IHSSN has broadcast all sanctioned Iowa high school finals from football to bowling. But before there was IHSSN there was Iowa Public Television.

For many years we watched lead announcer Doug Brown and a few different color commentators, along with “floor reporters” Dean Borg and Dick Trotter. In real life Borg was the director of public information for University of Iowa Hospitals and host of IPTV’s Iowa Press. Trotter was the wrestling coach (and my daughter’s math teacher) at Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids. While Saturday’s team of Mark Allen, Jim Gibbons and Mark Ironside did an excellent job, I miss the “good ol’ days”.

On Thursday, just after IPTV had finished its 33rd season of airing college wrestling with a live broadcast of Tuesday’s Iowa Conference finals, an article in The Des Moines Register reported that budget cuts may force IPTV to drop College Wrestling from its broadcast schedule. All state agencies in Iowa have been mandated to cut 6.5% from their budgets. For IPTV this amounts to $567,995. According to a quote in the Register article from Daniel Miller, IPTV’s executive director, a season of five to seven meets costs $40,000.

Last year I wrote a blog about IPTV called, “Banach is in Trouble”. With over 3,500 views, it is by far the most popular I’ve ever posted. Was this because there are that many wrestling fans that care about IPTV and College Wrestling? Sadly – I don’t think so. I suspect that most of the views were because College Wrestling producer, Pat Rowen, allowed me to post one of the most famous of all of the matches ever shown on television – Iowa State heavyweight Dave Osenbaugh’s upset pin of Hawkeye great, Lou Banach.

In one week, 3,500 wrestling fans viewed a prime example of the outstanding contributions made to the sport by IPTV. In the past 33 years viewers have seen future World and Olympic greats like John Smith, Cael Sanderson, Kenny Monday and Tom Brands compete in their college years.

Here’s my question – is the wrestling community willing to let this happen? If you live in Oklahoma or Pennsylvania or Ohio – why should you care? Because you care about wrestling. Because IPTV has supported and promoted college wrestling in a way very few other entities have. Because the loss of a pioneer in broadcasting wrestling might stand as a roadblock to the future expansion of wrestling on television. Because you want to win – you want to beat the odds.

Get off your butt and support College Wrestling on Iowa Public Television. You can go right now to the IPTV website and become a Friend of Iowa Public Television. Be sure to click on “College Wrestling” when they ask for your favorite programming. If you’re more of a check writer than an online donor, write one and mail it to

Friends of Iowa Public Television
PO Box 6400
Johnston, IA 50131

If you’re a business owner, why not be a corporate underwriter for College Wrestling?

Do it now – let’s show the world what wrestling fans are made of.

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