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Vol. 49, No. 1 • November 2011 • .pdf version
USBWA benefits extend beyond directories and contests
By LENOX RAWLINGS / Winston-Salem Journal
Kansas is still a basketball school. Syracuse is still a Big East school.
Mike Krzyzewski is still two wins short of Bobby Knight's 902. Jim Calhoun, the defender, is still a contender (and still on probation).
College basketball remains poised in suspended anticipation, with the USS Carl Vinson refitted for the Michigan State-North Carolina takeoff on San Diego waters. You can almost smell those deodorant classics and palm tree invitationals beyond the horizon.
The upshot: There is still plenty of time to join the USBWA or renew your membership for the 2011-12 season.
The USBWA is an inclusive organization, open to writers, broadcasters, photographers, sports information directors and almost anyone involved in the coverage of men's and women's college basketball.
The USBWA actively seeks more participation from student journalists, who can learn aspects of the trade while developing relationships with experienced journalists.
In recent years, the USBWA has conducted a seminar for aspiring sports reporters during the Final Four and has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the winner of a writing contest. This season, the USBWA plans to resume a $2,000 undergraduate scholarship available to the daughter or son of an active member. The applications period runs from Sept. 1 to April 15.
For students, an annual membership costs $25 – half a tank of gas, unless you cover the Persian Gulf Conference. Regular memberships are $50, and retirees can stay active for $20.
With more members, the USBWA can raise a stronger voice whenever vital issues of access and equity arise. The persistent leadership of executive director Joe Mitch and recent presidents helped increase the membership to about 900 despite a recession and a convulsive media environment. The new goal: 1,000 members, a level the USBWA has never attained since the beginning in 1956.
The costs of membership are low, and the benefits are notable. First, the published directory is comprehensive and extremely useful. It contains contact information for individual members, conferences and all Division I schools, along with TV schedules and an archive of annual awards.
Members get to vote for All-District and All-America teams, the Oscar Robertson Trophy given to the nation's top player, the Henry Iba Award given to the coach of the year, the women's awards for national player and coach of the year and the Wayman Tisdale Award for the top freshman.
There are cash prizes for winning categories in the USBWA writing contests, free subscriptions to Basketball Times and Rivals.com, a hotel program now under negotiation and a car program with Enterprise and National.
But those are just perks. The real benefit is getting to know people who enjoy hanging around basketball courts, on land or sea.
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