Posted February 21, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Keeler: PlayOn network great for sports fans

Tommy Keeler

This year, the Virginia High School League partnered with PlayOn Sports to broadcast state championships.

I wasn't sure what to expect at first. Now I think it's one of the best ideas (I don't believe they come up with many) the VHSL has ever had.

Last weekend, instead of going to Salem for the state wrestling tournament, I watched some of it at home on my computer.

I was still able to watch all of the local wrestlers win their state titles, without having to drive all that way and, maybe even worse, drive home late at night.

The announcers did a good job. One of them was Andy Hayes, who runs the Gameday magazine website. The only negative I have of the coverage was that we couldn't see the clock, and you could only see one mat at a time.

I could still hear the roars from the Strasburg crowd, which the announcers said had the biggest and loudest crowd of all the schools there.

PlayOn Sports is a website that broadcasts high school games for many states throughout the country. Each state has its own network. Virginia's is called the Virginia High School Network.

I've been watching PlayOn Sports since I found out that the VHSL made a deal with them, and I have been very happy with it. If you're a high school sports junkie like me, it's a great thing.

I've been able to watch the volleyball and football state championships without having to leave the house. I've always enjoyed going to state championships even if there weren't local teams involved. I love high school sports, and I love seeing the best teams compete and win titles -- at any level. What I don't love is having to get up early and go to places like Richmond, Salem and Radford.

PlayOn Sports is a perfect solution for any fan who doesn't feel like driving.

To watch live, there is a fee, but it's not much different than what you would pay if you were there. On top of that you can watch them at any time on demand. The quality isn't always the greatest, and the announcers aren't always spectacular, but it's still better than the hassle of having to drive there to watch them.

This weekend's indoor track meets will be shown live, and all the state semifinal and final basketball games from VCU will be broadcast.

Starting this spring, high schools will be allowed to broadcast regular season and playoff events on there as well. They also can have special events such as graduations on there as well.

Of course, one problem with this, especially in football, is that other teams could scout your team by watching this. I've noticed that some schools don't allow their regular season broadcasts to be available until after the season is over, to keep teams from scouting them.

One of the best aspects of PlayOn Sports is that you can watch games from all over the country. I enjoyed watching high school football games in states such as Mississippi, Connecticut, California and Colorado.

It's also fun to listen to the announcers, some of whom talk a little funny. One announcer in Mississippi said the quarterback 'was a fixin' to heave it.' I still think it was a relative of JMU coach Mickey Mathews that was announcing that game.

I also had the chance to watch some top up-and-coming players, and even some who were relatives of pro athletes.

Another great part for high school fans or parents is that you can order a DVD of any game broadcast on there. So, if your child is on a state championship team, you can buy the DVD as a keepsake.

For many different reasons, PlayOn Sports is a great thing for every high school sports fan.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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