SI Oncampus – An empty keg of content

Remember being a college undergrad? That carefree time of exploration, improper use of funnels, fake IDs, jungle juice, and Saturday afternoon football games? Great times, huh? Well I wouldn’t know. Unfortunately, I was one of the “studious” ones. Luckily, however, I can now relive the college life I missed out on, vicariously of course.
Sports Illustrated On Campus, the web version of the late print magazine of the same name, highlights the athletic and “outside of the classroom” activities of college students across the country. From grilling bratwursts and drinking lagers with Wisconsin alums before a football game to touring the house of the bleach blond California women’s field hockey team, SI On Campus touches on just about everything testosterone-driven college men could ever need – Including weekly profiles and pictorials of college cheerleaders. If the editors at Maxim took over SI for the day, the end product would surely look and sound something like this – testosterone fueled sports paired up with scantily clad cheerleaders.
SI On Campus encompasses the festive, and sometimes chaotic, atmosphere of college campuses around game time. While the site does produce some of its own content, like the cheerleader Q&A’s, The Dean’s List column, Tour Guide Road Notes, and College Cribs, the majority of the Web site’s content is borrowed from other blogs and news sites, a fact I find rather disappointing.
On the Web site, just about everything is linked to another non-SI page. What at first seemed like an online magazine meant to fulfill my college social life disappointments (I never did ask out that girl in my literary criticism class), turns out to be little more than an extra page where SI can unload all its cheerleading, tailgating, frat hazing and funneling pictures onto the web, and simply add colorful captions that any high school jock could think up. Don’t get me wrong, the alpha male side of me loves the pictures, and what’s left of my inner child laughs at the dirty jokes. The journalist I am trying to become, however, is looking for something with a little bit more substance.
Take for example one of the site’s main attractions, a weekly column called The College Football Tour Guide. In this section, a blogger named Dan travels each weekend to a different college campus to party it up with the co-eds tailgating for the day’s big game, after which he blogs about his experience and posts pictures of himself with some of the more interesting characters he met that day. Not to mention a few shots of himself with some lovely ladies, and I can’t blame him for that. However, I can blame SI for a quality content cop out.
I see little point to this online persona of SI. It seems as though it is trying too hard to be something it is not. Perhaps it is the fact that ESPN the magazine is slowly gain more ground (and writers – i.e. Rick Reilly) by appealing to a younger audience while SI is stuck in its old ways, struggling to keep up in its walker. Despite the fact that this online aspect is funny and the pictures are great, the site still comes off empty and even boring. Sports are what SI is all about. It should stick to that, and leave the partying to its readers.
Note: If that Dan guy ever quits, I am more than willing to take over his position. It would be a tough job, but I feel I’m the man to do it. To contact me bwwright@syr.edu.

– Brian Wright

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