Media ban makes it difficult to cover local sports event

If you were one of the many who showed up at Centenary’s Gold Dome last Friday afternoon for the Big South Shootout: One Night Only, Volume One event, you got your money’s worth watching two of the nation’s best high school girls’ basketball players go head-to-head when the Parkway Lady Panthers took on the country’s No.2-ranked Sierra Canyon (Calif.) Trailblazers.

It seemed like a win-win situation for all involved.

Certainly, the fans were winners. They got to see two “generational talents” compete in a hard-fought, entertaining game that took place in a championship-like environment.

The line to get into the Gold Dome began forming hours before the 4 o’clock tipoff. Once inside, fans were treated to a championship-like atmosphere with music pounding through the arena.

And the game didn’t disappoint. Sierra Canyon’s Judea “JuJu” Watkins and Parkway’s Mikaylah Williams showed why they are two of the top players in the nation. No matter the final score – which was 61-49 in favor of the Trailblazers – both teams came out winners in this one.

Parkway got some more of the early-season, tough competition that it looks for in preparation of a state title run — the Lady Panthers were runners-up in last year’s Class 5A championship and are eager to get another crack at the trophy.

Sierra Canyon got a nice road trip to Louisiana and a chance to show why the Trailblazers are the defending California state champions.

Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year against California’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

And it must have been a win for Big Hoops Shootout, the organization that put on the event. The Shreveport game was the first stop in a five-city, national tour that highlights the top high school teams in the country.

Nothing but a win-win situation, right?

Well, not for local media. Which means not for fans who didn’t get to see the game in person.

Not all local media showed up to cover the event, but those who did were informed that they could not video or photograph during the game.

Are you kidding me?

Yes, this was an event put on by a private organization and it did not take place at a local high school gym, so Big South can put whatever they want in their disclaimer (that appears in small print on their website).

However, as members of the local media, we strive not only to promote these kinds of events but also to cover them and let our readers (and watchers) know exactly what took place.

As KSLA’s Doug Warner wrote on Facebook after being told no video footage could be taken at the game: “Just so the parents know we tried to put their girls on the news.”

That’s what we try to do. Believe me, USA Volleyball welcomed the local media to Brookshire Arena when the Women’s National Team was here for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League event in May.

So, I could write about Friday’s game, but my photographer couldn’t take any pictures?

If any video or photography was to be shown locally, it would have to be supplied by the Big Hoops organization. When I was told I would be sent a picture that night to run in the next day’s publication, I figured it really was a win-win-win situation.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Three days later, I received some photos via email.

Too little, too late.

I did receive an apology from Big Hoops’ representative Pierre Robertson, who acknowledged the organization receives complaints “in every city” regarding the media ban.

I just hope media members in Fayetteville, N.C. – the next stop on the tour – get their requests in really early.

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