HBCU Sports, one of the leading platforms dedicated to covering Black college athletics from football to tennis, originally started off writing summaries and reporting on the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference).
But now HBCU Sports boasts as “one of the largest and most visited HBCU sports information sites on the Web.” And on paper, as many as 1 million visitors clicked on the website alone in the year 2013.
Founding Editor and Publisher Kenn Rashad had the honor to talk with HBCU Buzz on making mistakes, the lack of coverage on HBCU sports, and the future of online news sources.
Buzz: You created www.hbcusports.com in 1997 because you seen little to no coverage on HBCU sports. Talk about this and talk about the media landscape today as it relates to coverage on HBCU sports. Why do you believe this is the case?
Kenn: HBCU Sports, which was initially created as The SWAC Page, was established at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy in 1997. At the time, I had to rely on getting Saturday’s HBCU football scores in the Sunday morning Dallas Morning News newspaper. The information published in the newspaper was simply a line score, or maybe a box score, but without any other supporting information. For me it wasn’t enough, and it was my guess that others followers of HBCU football felt the same way. At that point, with no previous experience, I went to a local CompUSA store and purchased a book on building websites. The rest is history.
Overall media coverage of HBCU sports, thanks to the Internet, has improved a great deal, but still pales in comparison to the larger collegiate landscape. I believe the demand is there, but the deficit stems from limited resources within our HBCU athletic and media relations department in the decimation of information, combined with the limited resources that a number of HBCU media outlets are faced with to provide accurate and consistent coverage.
Buzz: What do you think caused your website to go viral?
Kenn: Persistence and a determination to just do good work. Have we always gotten it right? No. Are there areas where we can do better? Absolutely. But I think we’ve benefited the most by simply providing information that keeps our audience informed.
Buzz: I bet it’s a task to manage the site. How do you maintain the site with only three staff members?
Kenn: It is indeed a task and it is not easy work. Because we are limited in staff members, the key is to simply focus on being as efficient as possible by allowing the staff to do the things that best serves the organization.