Andy Johnson has been the sports information director at Macalester for 24 years. He became sick a couple of weeks ago and remains out of work.
We refer to the men and women as SIDs in the news business. As a newspaperman, I have relied on the SIDs for column tips and for setting up interviews for decades.
There are a fair number of full-timers at Division I schools, and two or three full-timers at most Division II schools.
In the Division III world, and particularly at academic strongholds such as Macalester, it’s generally one person and a number of student assistants.
I was at the annual Macalester-Hamline battle for the Paint Bucket on a cold, rainy day at the end of the 2013 football season. It was humorous to overhear the banter as Andy tried to calmly direct his minions through play-by-play, statistics and the other necessities of information during that game.
The duties of SIDs everywhere, including in the short-staffed MIAC, have been greatly increased in this information age.
For instance: Most of the athletic events now have video streaming that can be reached through the school’s Website. That creates one more complication, one more thing that can go wrong, thus upsetting relatives and alums from faraway places who expect to be able to watch ballgames, hoops games and swimming meets.
A couple of years ago, Augsburg’s Don Stoner had a health problem and was out of action for a week. His MIAC colleagues rallied around him to offer help.
The same thing has happened with Andy Johnson. Generally, with spring events, the home SID handles things for both schools. Some of the visiting SIDs have gone to Mac with their teams and taken the responsibility for providing information.
“We co-hosted the softball tournament with Macalester last weekend, so it wasn’t a big deal to make sure the information was there as rapidly as people have come to expect it,’’ Stoner said. “Really, all we want as Andy’s peers and friends is to hear some good news about his health.’’
Stoner has been at Augsburg for 17 years. He trails Johnson, St. Thomas’ Gene McGivern and St. Mary's Don Nadeau in seniority in the MIAC.
“The job has changed tremendously in 17 years,’’ Stoner said. “When I started, you would send a game story and stats to a main website server, and hope it was posted that night. A lot of times, the information didn’t make it until the next morning. And if it was the weekend … you were in trouble.
“Now, we have video streaming and live scoring, and as I said, people expect it. Parents are spending a lot of money to send their kids to these schools as students and athletes. If they can’t be here, they want to watch, or at least know what’s happening. And we have an obligation to provide that.’’