Streaming Service Now Available for Select Stuyvesant Sports

Issue 6, Volume 113

By Ruiwen Tang, Matthew Huang, David Lin 

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Stuyvesant offers more than 40 sports teams, yet many experience low spectator turnout. Families and students cite commute times, other commitments, and scheduling conflicts as hindrances to attending. To increase accessibility, Stuyvesant athletics recently partnered with the National Federation of State High School (NFHS) Associations to live-stream games played in the third- and sixth-floor gyms. Stuyvesant is joining the NFHS’s current partnership of more than 9,000 schools that are supported by the network’s software and hardware supplies, maintenance, and even revenue from advertising.

The idea of a streaming service was inspired by efforts to ease the impact of attendance restrictions during the pandemic. “During COVID, when people could not make the games, we knew other private teams that definitely used a streaming service so that their parents could watch their kids play the sports,” athletics director Peter Bologna said.

Beyond providing a means for parents to stay connected to their children’s sports, the services that come along with the streaming platform open up many opportunities for coaching. “[The service] would also help our coaches go over film, go over games, and reassess the team. Part of their coaching strategies now is to go over the mistakes and the goods and the bads of all the happenings of the game,” Bologna said.

Student athletes look forward to having the opportunity to replay and rewatch their performances as well. “As athletes, especially in public schools, you don’t really have this opportunity as much, but if you can replay your games and you can see what you’re doing in the games, [...] you can’t put a number to that,” junior and tri-season athlete (in soccer, track and field, and tennis) Frederik Schutz said.

Stuyvesant was provided with two free Pixellot cameras as a part of the deal. Currently mounted to the wall above the bleachers in the third- and sixth-floor gyms, these cameras are capable of motion-tracking and staff-free operation, which have become useful for coaches. “The camera somehow intuitively just follows the ball, and it knows when to shift over, especially in a volleyball game when the ball’s on one side,” girls’ varsity volleyball coach Vasken Choubaralian said. “It’s a really good coaching tool at the same time, because we can quickly and easily access games that we’ve played, and we can assess and get feedback on the way we play the game as a coach.”

Subscription plans are available for $11.99 per month or $79.99 per year. Standard across the network, these prices include the ability to watch games played in the third- or sixth-floor gyms, including basketball, volleyball, and badminton, as well as access to games from other schools that are part of the NFHS Network.

Currently, the limited availability of sports on the platform means that athletes like Schutz will not be able to see their sports streamed on the platform. However, students and coaches alike feel that there is still a sizable potential audience. “If I were playing in a game, my family would definitely want to watch. Otherwise, I don’t think they’d want to watch other sports,” Schutz said. “But obviously, I think, other families here are really devoted to their kids, so I’m sure they’d be willing to pay a subscription for that.”

Though current viewing options are limited, the service will still support several teams. “We have girls’ and boys’ and JV teams, so we have three basketball teams: boys’ team, girls’ team, boys’ JV team. So yeah, there may be only three sports, but [...] it’ll benefit a lot of teams,” Choubaralian said.

The cost of the subscription poses a potential financial barrier for families, which some have suggested can be alleviated by incorporating advertisers and utilizing the NFHS Network’s offering of revenue shares for schools. “I think that it’s a good opportunity as well, if Stuy wanted to make some extra money, to try to bring in some advertising if enough people watched it and advertisers were willing to advertise and give money for that,” Schutz said.

However, some feel that a live-streamed game cannot replicate the in-person experience or justify the price of the service. “If [my parents] have time, they might as well watch [the games] in person. Watching the game live-streamed isn’t always as clear or as exciting as it is in person,” junior Yonna Yeung said. “They wouldn’t really stream sports except for those that me and my sister are in, so spending $11.99 a month or $79.99 isn’t worth it. […] My mom and I would rather buy and watch Netflix.”

The parents who are able to attend in-person games echo this sentiment. “Personally, paying for a subscription to watch online isn’t worth it for me when I can easily go in person and support my daughter’s team that way,” Mandy Dong, junior Niki Chen’s mother, said.

Nonetheless, the NFHS Network stands as an alternative for parents who are unable to attend games. Overall, student-athletes, coaches, and administrators hope that this streaming service is just one of many steps to improve school spirit and support for student athletics at Stuyvesant. “A streaming service where people don’t actually have to go to the games—commutes are really long in the city—so if you can just watch from your computer, from your phone, you can feel more connected and invested in a sport, and so that’ll just, as a whole, bring the community of Stuy closer together and also bring up the athletic culture,” Schutz said. “​​I think that we need to invest more money into our sports teams, such as services like this, but also, for example, finding more space for us to play and getting permits at Pier 40 on a regular basis.”

Stuyvesant’s administration looks forward to using the new service and is open to the possibility of using other technologies to benefit the school community. “We are always up to trying new things and looking to improve on the student’s athletic experience. Anytime we can incorporate technology for the community and our students, we are open to doing so,” Assistant Principal of Safety, Security, and Physical Education Brian Moran said.