This past June, CPS chose to not continue their five year relationship with Kelly Sports Properties (KSP). KSP handled school athletics publications, venue, scoreboard signage, radio spots during games, advertising and marketing promotions and managing licensing rights.
“I believe [what caused the relationship with KSP to end] was our leadership wanting to have more kids be hands-on. We have a great [Columbia Area] Career Center (CACC), we want to get broadcasting and graphic design involved more in [the marketing and broadcasting],” CPS district athletic director Bruce Whitesides said. “We started last week with some broadcasting and film. Mr. [Joe] Wittman has facilitated that with the CACC, and it [started] at the Hickman game. Mr. Whitman does production, but we facilitate kids involvement in the broadcasting.”
According to the KSP contract with CPS, certain restrictions decreased student involvement, such as the band only being permitted to play at certain times during football home games and being prohibited to play at major athletic fundraisers like “For the Love of the Game.”
“It’s definitely an advantage [that CPS handles its own marketing and broadcasting],” RBHS principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad said. “It’s also a burden. It’s a burden on the system itself because part of the reason that access was restricted when [KSP] was involved was that even though they wanted to promote student involvement, and they did try, their focus was very clear. Their number one job was obtaining and maintaining partnerships. And that’s okay. We understood that.”
CPS, however, is fixated on a different, achievable goal. The district’s attention is set on promoting more student involvement in all aspects of the athletics marketing.
“When we were partnered with KSP, we worked with them and understood their goal,” Rukstad said. “It worked to our advantage financially, professionally and in other ways, so now that we have taken over we still have some of the same aims as KSP, but we also want to integrate the students into that process more.”
Now that KSP is not here to do the marketing and business partnerships, the responsibility has fallen to the new CPS media director, Sheila Kausler. Previously a Mediacom Videographer, she was hired in June to handle the switch.
“It’s been a smooth [transition] so far. It’s a lot of work,” Kausler said. “I do design for all the programs, get all the commercials loaded onto the scoreboard and make sure all the P/As and scripts have been sent. [I’m also in charge of] communicating and handling partners. While I do have an assistant , the bulk of it is me.”
Kausler also helps the broadcast students at the CACC with production at the football games. Because of her service and inspiration, she is one great example of how CPS has strived for student integration in the absence of KSP. However, the specifics and transition into a more student-centered involvement are many and intricate.
“There are a lot of details to [student inclusion in broadcast], but I definitely believe those details are worth it. But it’s be a very big deal. Students don’t necessarily know how to do all the specifics and they may not have an adult to train and manage the situation so we have to make sure it’s done right,” Principal Dr. Rukstad said. “We need to have the people and programs in place to allow student experiences to be quality and to have their products be quality and that’s where the work comes in for CPS. And that’s okay, but it’s a lot harder than saying, ‘Oh, students can do this, this and this.’ We need to make sure that student and our parteners time and product are quality. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to make sure it is truly a win-win.”
Kelly Sports declined to comment for this story.