Wednesday June 15th, 2016

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry overall at SportTechie.com.

High school athletes committing to play in college can now automatically receive their own customized press releases, called Commitment Stories.

Each year thousands of high school athletes commit to play in college. However only a fraction of them receives any media attention, usually in revenue-generating sports like football and men’s basketball. This is because sportswriters typically lack the bandwidth to cover all of them, even though such stories can be meaningful to their local communities.

Wanting to recognize all athletes and also help celebrate these moments, FieldLevel has introduced Commitment Stories.

At its core, FieldLevel is a social network that gets athletes recruited to play college sports. But in 2013, the company began tracking the commitments of athletes on its platform. And since then, it has helped celebrate more than 23,000 athletes who have committed to play sports in college. Now when athletes commit on FieldLevel, a Commitment Story is automatically generated, which is like a press release that aids local sports media.

“College commitments are always news to someone,” said FieldLevel co-founder Kai Sato. “Sometimes these athletes are the first in their families to attend college or hail from as far away as Australia. It’s a momentous occasion for the athletes, their loved ones, teammates, coaches and local media. However, the challenge for many sports writers is access. Even with Twitter, it’s difficult to learn about all relevant college commitments and even harder to verify their accuracy. FieldLevel was in a unique position to help athletes and sportswriters find synergy, so we created Commitment Stories.”

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Here’s how it works.

When a high school athlete commits to play in college through FieldLevel, it goes through a confirmation process that involves the athlete’s coach. The coach not only helps ensure accuracy but is also able to provide his or her own quote about the athlete. This aspect eliminates some of the burden for sportswriters and sports information directors (SIDs) at colleges, who are typically responsible for covering such events and collecting statements. The stories also detail the amount of interest athletes received from college teams. All of the stories are housed on FieldLevel’s homepage and available through the company’s iOS app.

Unlike the big four editorial recruiting websites (Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and 24/7) that write about a very small faction of recruits so that die-hard fans can speculate and banter, Commitment Stories present a more encompassing news product that aggregates content for local and regional audiences. Given FieldLevel’s scale, Commitment Stories include “blue chip” recruits but also cover athletes at all levels of collegiate play, across eight different sports.

In May 2016 alone, more than 2,000 Commitment Stories were created.

“When we first started tracking commitments, we used Twitter to announce verified commitments and to congratulate athletes,” said Taylor Gribsby, Field Level’s director of community. “Soon, they began tagging FieldLevel in their tweets announcing their commitments and even requesting that we help amplify the news. We quickly saw that a contingent of sportswriters was taking notice, sometimes even using the leads to develop their own stories.”

Commitment Stories offer an added benefit for fans of high school and college teams. If they are reading an athlete’s story and want to see where his high school teammates are playing in college, they can view all college commitments on the team’s unique FieldLevel Team Page. Or similarly if an athlete has committed to their favorite team, like UCSB’s College World Series-bound baseball program, they can see from where its recruits are matriculating and read their stories as well (displayed below).

“Commitment Stories are designed to provide value to a range of people, including sports writers, athletic administrators, parents, coaches, and fans,” Sato said. “But the best part is that they afford all athletes the attention that they deserve and celebrate one of the more important moments in their careers.”

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