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Youth sports comes to a TV near you

SureWest show focuses on less-covered sports
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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With its eyes on a market the company sees as underserved and a desire to provide a community resource, SureWest Communications recently launched the SureWest Sports Show. The cable television offering is a weekly 30-minute youth and high school sports program that can be viewed on i2TV channel 702 on SureWest digital TV and online at www.surewestsports.com. “We have been had discussions about doing something like this for about two years,” said SureWest Product Marketing Manager Jaime Montes. “With our other projects, the resources were not there until recently when the stars aligned and we were able to launch this project.” The 30-minute show consists of scores and highlights from high school and youth games around the region for sports such as football, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer, golf, tennis, track & field, swimming, diving and volleyball. While they plan to cover the highly visible sports like high school football and basketball, the company plans to focus on numerous other sports that receive far less attention in the media. “We are providing entertainment,” Montes said. “This is a community sports show, and you can always find coverage of basketball and football, but we are going to also cover sports that are not readily available.” The show is hosted by local sports enthusiast and sportswriter Mike Finnerty, who sees the show as one that has something for everyone. “What we look to do is cover the core sports, plus those sports that are growing such as sports like lacrosse,” Finnerty said. “With high school sports concluding at the end of May, we will turn our attention to youth sports and club teams over the summer, while we mix in some high school preview features that will include coach and player interviews.” The show also incorporates discussions with local newspaper sports writers to bring the community more into the mix. “We also have local sports writers on the show each week which we feel enhances the show given the ground level knowledge that these local writers have of the teams and players in their communities,” Finnerty said. A new program airs every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and is replayed multiple times each day throughout the week. The show is also available online at surewestsports.com. “We really want to make it available to everyone,” Montes said. “With the online component, it is available to grandma on the East Coast as well as the local sports fan.” SureWest says that it is not in this to turn a profit, but believes this is a way to serve its community. “We are showcasing the sports community for what it is,” Montes said. “There is no advertising or selling involved. We have always wanted to be part of everyone’s community and youth sports is a key part of that community.” The weekly programs selects and announces players of the week and may look to incorporate tutorials and other skill development tips from professionals in the community. Thus far, the project has been well received, and Finnerty received solid feedback wherever he goes with his highly conspicuous van. “The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, Finnerty said. “The show has been very well received by coaches, parents and players, so we are thrilled that everyone is happy with the product we are providing. Kids love being on TV, and because the show is online, everyone can see the show including family and friends who live out of the area.”