I've written in a number of posts about the growing focus on high school sports as a revenue-producer for media properties such as ESPN and FSN. Although we've seen increased focus on high school sports by newspaper companies through focused Web sites and weekly tab editions, Gannett's new "Grid" may be the most ambitious multimedia effort. Gannett Broadcasting's VP for new media, Kerry Oslund, in an e-mail interview with Al Tompkins, described the effort to air football games across the country as a relatively inexpensive one, bolstered by help from Mogulus and highschoolsports.net.
Talk about programming on the cheap with potential to deliver eyeballs from a national audience -- this is it. A ranking system of high school teams -- delivered by USA Today -- is used to promote matchups.
The question that must continue to be asked about this kind of broadcasting of scholastic sports is one that focuses on the real cost. How will the "big-time" framing of young athletes impact the academic mission of high school sports? How can we ensure that the problems plaguing college sports (written about in books such as Counterfeit Amateurs)don't transfer to the high school level -- where oversight beyond the district level is virtually nil?