Guards come down and relationships are strengthened. These are just a couple of things expected to happen during the 2022 APSE Summer Conference, one of the group’s two yearly in-person meetings.
The event will run June 15-18 in Indianapolis and is the organization’s second in-person summer conference since the onset of COVID-19. Organizers are hopeful of an attendance of about 80. As of Saturday, there were no Covid protocols in place in Marion County (where Indianapolis is), with community risk level of the virus listed as low.
“It's a chance for everybody to get together and check on everyone, see how they're doing,” said Jorge Rojas, APSE’s first vice president and its incoming leader. “It's like most industry gatherings. There's a little bit of shop talk and enrichment, and there's also fun and events taking place.”
The summer conference serves as a national gathering for members to network and discuss relevant topics within sports journalism such as staffing issues, APSE president Gary Potosky said. At Las Vegas last year, with the world still learning how to emerge from the pandemic, Potosky said one of the key things the organization learned was how to bring in panelists virtually.
“We're not competitors when it comes down to it, except for very rare instances. We're essentially trying to help each other navigate through the issues facing our industry,” Potosky said. “We have panels that focus specifically on things that we face every day.”
The group also meets in the winter with a focus on contest judging. APSE members convened in Orlando last February to go over this year’s entries.
APSE’s summer conferences are more wide-ranging and panel-oriented. Some of the topics for this year include sports gambling, game stories in the digital era and career development. Additionally, the organization will award Leon Carter, a co-founder of the Sports Journalism Institute and the editorial director for talent and development at The Athletic, the Red Smith Award presented to writers or editors who have greatly contributed to the industry. Previous winners include Sally Jenkins in 2021 and SJI co-founder Sandy Rosenbush in 2019.
This year’s conference will tip off with members treated to a WNBA game between the home Indiana Fever and the Phoenix Mercury on June 15. A reception at the NCAA headquarters is also scheduled.
The 2021 summer conference in Las Vegas was a bit lower key, and with lax protocols in Nevada at the time, Potosky said APSE was nevertheless “very vocal about everybody being careful.”
Lisa Wilson, last year’s APSE president and an editorial director at The Athletic, said the organization exercised caution because of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its emerging variants. The conference itself was pushed back two months to mid-August, and all panels took place in a large, socially-distanced room instead of smaller breakout sessions.
Such concessions were seen as necessary for the APSE to be one of the only journalism groups to meet in person in 2021, given that the previous year’s summer conference was canceled because of COVID.
“We thought long and hard about that, and we decided, we didn't want to go two years without getting our membership together,” Wilson said. “If enough people are vaccinated, and we take some safety measures there as best we can, we think we can be responsible and have this conference in person.”
Wilson said she is glad the 2021 conference happened, and that she viewed it as a success, with about 60 members attending. Typically, attendance ranges from 80 to 100 people.
“Lisa Wilson, to her credit, pretty much led us through the pandemic,” said Rojas, who is also deputy managing editor for college football at The Athletic. “She did a great job of, I think, tightening the infrastructure and just guiding us through a tough time. And Gary has picked up where she left off and — knock on wood — we’re coming out of it.”