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Sports information directors: The people behind the scenes of Ohio State sports

Although they will never make a single play on the field or the court, sports information directors (SIDs) make the headlines for almost every game.
A SID provides information to media and fans, which can include working on media guides, updating a team’s Twitter feed and updating live statistics during games, said SID and assistant director of athletics communications at OSU Brett Rybak.
“You’re kind of the intermediary between the media and the team,” said Rybak. “We’ll set up interviews and release information to various media outlets after games.”
Rybak, in his third year with OSU, worked in the sports information department while he was an undergraduate at Otterbein University. During his senior year at Otterbein, Rybak was a student intern in the OSU athletics communications. In 2012, Rybak worked as the SID for OSU women’s soccer, baseball, women’s gymnastics, rifle and pistol teams as well as helped with men’s basketball and football.
For those who work in media, like former Lantern editor-in-chief Zack Meisel, a SID is the middle-man between student-athletes and the media.
“It’s a unique role and a critical one in sports,” said Meisel, who currently works for MLB.com. “There’s always going to be that separation between players and reporters. The SIDs are the ones who will set everything up, make sure the media has what it needs and at the same time makes sure that the players have the privacy and security they need because you can’t just go directly to a player for something.”
Meisel said OSU’s system, which has many directors covering multiple sports, works well.
“If you’re going to be a reporter and cover Ohio State, it obviously helps to get to know the SIDs a little bit,” Meisel said. “When I started out, I introduced myself to as many as I could, just to avoid potential snags.”
Another former Buckeye sportswriter said he had mostly positive experiences with SIDs, but journalists must be wary of the information they give.
“You just have to be careful as a journalist not to fall into a trap of where you’re taking everything they feed you,” said Grant Freking, a sportswriter for the Greenfield Daily Reporter in Greenfield, Ind. “They’re not going to give you the story; they’re going to give you what you ask for. You can’t just rely on them or expect them to go above and beyond for you. You accept what they give you and have to ask for something else in return so you can get that extra layer.”
Rybak said he tries to maintain a good working relationship with not only the media, but the teams as well.
“I think it’s a professional relationship of mutual respect,” Rybak said of the coaches and athletes. “They know what I have to do and I know what they have to do. For them, the most important thing is playing the game and stuff like that. So you take that into account, but I have to get my job done as well.”
Since the SIDs work closely with sports teams each season, the players and coaches form relationships with them and have their own opinions of the SIDs.
“Well, (Rybak) means a lot to me,” said OSU baseball coach Greg Beals. “He helps coordinate all these (media-related) activities and stuff that goes on. I’m a baseball guy. I’d prefer to be out there on the field in uniform instead of in front of cameras. He helps coordinate that.”
Beals said Rybak also collects information and statistics the team finds useful.
“The other thing is that I’m a numbers guy,” Beals said. “So he makes sure we get the stats and I have all the information I need to crunch my special numbers and do some things for our players. I like to motivate them with different numbers than just batting average and that stuff.”
Both journalists and coaches agreed that SIDs play important roles for their respective jobs during games. Rybak said it’s tough work, but that it can be rewarding.
“Fifteen-hour days aren’t out of the question, that’s for sure,” Rybak said. “It’s definitely not easy, but it has its rewards as well. I’d be paying attention to sports anyways, so why not make a career out of it? I get to pay attention to sports every day. On top of that, you get to get stories out of the student-athletes. I’d say that’s the most rewarding part of it.”

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