Flip Video of High School Sports

The Flip video camera, which SMUGgles know I like a lot, does a reasonably decent job of capturing video of sporting events, as long as they’re in a relatively small venue.

Here’s video I shot last night, of my daughter’s high school basketball team in their home opener. They won the game 68-40.


If you click through to view the video directly on YouTube (instead of embedded), you can choose “Watch in High Quality,” which is a significant improvement.

Maybe for the next game I’ll try a tripod with the Flip. I really like how it saves time in digitizing though, as compared with shooting miniDV and having to import the tape. Being able to just copy the files to the hard drive and import into iMovie instead of playing an entire tape to digitize and import cuts the production time roughly in half.

Here, for comparison, is a video I shot last year with a Panasonic MiniDV camera. I’m not sure what my encoding settings were (probably not very good), but the video I shot with the Flip seems to compare favorably with this:


Given its relatively non-existent zoom (it only goes to 2x, and that’s a digital zoom, not optical), you need to be pretty close to the action to get decent game video with a Flip. But given its speed and ease of use, I think the quality is acceptable (provided you keep your finger from creeping into the viewfinder.)

Thanksgiving Reflections 2008

As I noted two years ago in Top 10 Reasons I’m Thankful, and to Whom, my performance in composing annual Christmas letters was spotty in the B.B. (Before Blog) era. Doing a family newsletter was such a production that procrastination (and eventually abject failure) was the most frequent outcome.

But that all changed in 2006, and I followed it up last year with another compilation (though that one was in December, on my daughter Rachel’s first wedding anniversary).

My new tradition is not only to beat what was formerly the Christmas snail mail crush, but to have my year-in-review distributed before the Black Friday sales have even begun.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving Reflections 2008”

SMUG’s Basketball Team

Going to State

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which I reviewed here, Patrick Lencioni highlights five characteristics of groups that have not become true teams. I said my next post would turn those dysfunctions upside down, and positively highlight characteristics of one of the most effective teams I’ve had the pleasure to observe.

In Lencioni’s leadership fable, his protagonist Katherine relates the story of her husband, a basketball coach, who benched a talented player who was focused on personal statistics instead of team results. Yet (or maybe therefore) his teams consistently had winning seasons, because of the synergy that comes from teamwork.

One way we keep the costs down for Social Media University, Global is by not having any athletic teams. Also, unlike our online university colleagues at the University of Phoenix, we haven’t paid millions for the naming rights to a football stadium.

But clearly, sports can be powerful for marketing. That’s why a major retailer paid $18.75 million in 1990 for the naming rights to the facility where SMUG’s adopted team will be playing its first-round game in the Minnesota State High School girls’ basketball tournament.

You see, your Chancellor has a daughter on the Austin, Minn. team. Rebekah Aase is a 6′ 1″ junior center for the Packers, who enter the state tournament with a 20-7 record. But she’s not the star of her team. There is no star for her team. This is not a team that relies on one player for a major portion of its points. Nine girls see regular action in every game, and six or seven of them have led the team in scoring in at least one game.

A gimmick defense like a box and one or a triangle and two is completely worthless against the Packers. A different player steps up each time to take the scoring load, as Jenny Fisher, Rebekah Aase and Kristina Vorpahl led the team in scoring in the Packers’ three tournament games. Brittney Gibson sank the three-point buzzer beater that clinched the state tournament berth after being scoreless for the first 33:58 of the game. And part of being a team is understanding that scoring isn’t the only way to contribute; for example, senior co-captain Tana Lukes had seven steals in the section semifinal win.

So here’s how the Packers have done it, and how they positively demonstrate the opposite of Lencioni’s dysfunctions.

  1. Trust – When team members know that every other member has their best interests at heart, and a single overriding goal, they have freedom to fail and therefore freedom excel. The Austin girls know that they can step up to take a big shot without worrying that their teammates will criticize them if they miss. Coach Gary Peterson says this is the closest team he’s ever had. The girls all genuinely love their teammates.
  2. Constructive Conflict – On a sports team, this probably pertains more to the coaches than to the players, but development of a winning game plan requires the coaching staff to brainstorm all the options and debate the best approach to use against a given opponent. As the plan is being implemented in practice, the players need to ask questions to be sure they are clear on how things should be done. And in the heat of the game, they can talk about what’s working and what isn’t, so the coaches benefit from their perspective. The leader, the head coach, needs to make the final decision, after weighing all of the input.
  3. Commitment – Once a game plan has been created, everyone needs to be fully committed to execution. Even if it wasn’t what they would have decided individually, the only way a team can work effectively together is to completely commit. If anyone holds back and second-guesses, the plan won’t work.
  4. Accountability – Team members and leaders need to hold each other accountable for keeping their commitments. When Rebekah is fronting the post, for instance, she needs to know she’ll have help on the back side defending the lob pass. And when the guards are aggressively pressuring the point guard, they need to know she’ll be patrolling the lane if the point penetrates.
  5. Focus on Results – The Packers’ balanced scoring speaks for itself, that no one is putting individual results ahead of team success. As a result, they’ve reached a goal together that wouldn’t have been possible without exceptional teamwork.

Here are the video highlights (including Brittney’s Buzzer Beater) from the section title game:


To see more about the Packers and an application of social media (specifically Facebook) as a sports booster club, visit the Packers’ fan group and read about why Facebook groups beat blogs for this purpose.