Lighthouse Wrestling was founded in October of 2008 with the mission of bringing New York state high school and college wrestling media to the community. It was born out of frustration that so many of us have expressed with the lack of mainstream media coverage. Instead of looking to persuade the multi-million dollar corporations to provide more and better coverage, I along with Lighthouse’s dedicated volunteers thought that a more fruitful strategy was to devote those energies towards covering the sport ourselves. And we did.
After 15 months of operation, volunteers have contributed a combination of over 400 feature stories, interviews, live webcasts, videos, rankings, results, and photos. We’ve covered major events such as the New York state championships, Union-Endicott duals, and Section XI championships with live webcasts – the first ever. New York fans had the opportunity to watch these events free though some charged fees to secure the rights (NYS and Section XI Championships).
In those 15 months I dare say that there has been more coverage than any of the mainstream outlets have provided over the past 15 years combined. When you consider the small team of steady volunteers, Pete Candito, Matt Diano, Willie Ellinger, and me, the volume of output is incredible. A feature story such as The John Glenn Tsunami Aims for the Team Title consumes nearly 15 hours of work between interviews, transcription, research, writing, rewriting, and reviews. I rarely go to bed before 1AM during the wrestling season, and I wake every morning at 6AM to commute to the city. Matt Diano can attest to that as we’ll bump into each other online in the early morning hours while each of us is writing a story.
When I started this endeavor, I could not understand why mainstream media would ignore a passionate community of fans. Now that I’ve been immersed in the business of wrestling media, I understand. The fan base is small. The top trafficked national web sites barely have enough unique visitors per month to garner serious advertising dollars, if they even do at all. Wrestling media is competing for pennies. For the mainstream media players who are struggling to survive in this changing world of the internet with their huge operating expenses and their professional employees who rely upon them for a living, the money quite frankly isn’t there to devote in any serious way. With their overhead, they will lose significant money. I empathize with their plight as the money may not be there for even low overhead sites supported by volunteers such as ours.
Recently, I’ve read some forum postings and a blog post on the NYSSWA web site lamenting the mainstream media’s coverage of big events. And yet again, there was forum discussion around the deficit of coverage for the Eastern States (By the way we webcast the semi-finals and finals live last year.). In particular, the NYSSWA was critical of coverage for the Union-Endicott duals while neglecting to acknowledge the 14 hours of live video coverage that Lighthouse provided of the great event. Instead of acknowledging what has never been done before (14 hours of live video coverage), they chose to focus on what they didn’t have (mainstream media coverage). When before has a top DI wrestling coach along with his top New York recruit supported such an event in this way? If it’s not unprecedented, it’s at least unique enough to qualify as worthy of recognition.
My intention is not to be critical of the NYSSWA. They do a wonderful job of supporting high school sports. The intention is to highlight a mindset that we have in the wrestling community. We concern ourselves too much with the media organizations that aren’t supporting wrestling rather than supporting those organizations that are. The ones devoting themselves tirelessly to covering this sport need your help. When I started this site, I decided rather than complain, I would choose to make a difference. Even before I started Lighthouse, I contributed my time to LIWA supporting rankings and the Summer Heat, and I was a youth coach for 9 years.
Without getting into too much detail, Lighthouse wrestling operates at a loss, and the income does not cover the yearly fixed operating expenses. That will only continue for so long before there is no more Lighthouse Wrestling. Consequently, we will not cover any event that requires a fee for webcasts until they can be funded by income. If you like what we are doing, we need your support. If you would like to see us grow our coverage as we would like to, we need your support.
There are many ways to support this site. If you have a business, consider advertising with us. If you have items or services for sale, think about creating a classified ad. It’s extremely inexpensive. If you would like to be a sponsor, there’s an option for that too. If instead you would like to make a small donation, please do. If you have a story or an event that you would like covered, reach out to us. We don’t know unless you speak with us; few have. And finally, if you have talents to offer, we’d like to hear from you. Visit our contacts page for details.
As you may have noticed on our live coverage pages, we are making an appeal for a small contribution of $5 from each of our visitors. If only 10% of the visitors who visited our site over the last year donated $5, we would have an income of $25,000. That would allow us to upgrade our web servers so that the performance for loading pages is much faster. It would allow us to upgrade our streaming subscription and equipment to improve the quality of our webcasts. It would allow us to resume wrestler of the week articles and expand our coverage to the upstate sections and devote more attention to the ones already covered. It would allow us to do more of what I hope the wrestling community wants.
Though we would like your support, the message that I want to leave you with is to support the community of volunteers that are tirelessly aiming to deliver. Forget about courting mainstream media outlets. Until the fan base for this sport grows, we will never have the mainstream coverage desired by the community.
If Lighthouse isn’t your favorite, donate to LIWA. Steve Meehan has been working tirelessly for years supporting the local wrestling community, whether it is through his contributions to the LIWA web site or his support with running tournaments. LIWA has done a lot for the wrestling community. They send kids to camp, organize the Summer Heat, and publish a web site. If LIWA isn’t your favorite, then be a sponsor of The Mat Slap. Jim and Tony Nordland have also been working tirelessly for many years covering the local and state action. They are brothers who love the sport, and their passion shows in their work. There are plenty of fine sites up state, such as matburn, to support as well. Finally, support wrestlers working for wrestling. As I see it, this is the surest way for the wrestling community to secure the coverage that we so desire. The choice is ours.