By David Jones, 2017 FWAA President
I have met many FWAA members who’ve made great use of our organization. But maybe none struck me so much as a reporter I met last month while covering the Penn State spring scrimmage in State College.
I would say it doesn’t take a nuclear engineer to figure out the benefits of FWAA membership. But then, such a guy would certainly be bright enough to recognize them, too.
I submit to you Blaise Collin, nuclear physicist by trade, college football reporter as a side gig, writing for the French-language football site Football Americain. He’s a proud member and his FWAA directory has served him well.
Collin was born and raised in the town of Nancy in east-central France near the German border. As a young boy, he was fascinated by video of American football. A couple of trips to his aunt’s home in Boston whetted his appetite. And after college, a year-long post-doctoral stint with the Penn State physics department in 2003 sent him over the top.
Collin was so taken by the sport that, even after returning to Paris to work, he took vacation time to make trips to the U.S. to see college games in Pac-12 country. And when he took a job in Idaho Falls, Idaho, as a research scientist with the Idaho National Laboratory in 2010, he began writing for FootballAmericain.com on the side. The site serves 20,000 fans of American football in France and French-speaking countries.
That’s when Collin discovered the FWAA. He joined in 2012. And he told me his directory has been indispensible in making contacts, finding sports info personnel to request credentials and feeding his bottomless thirst for college football knowledge:
“The booklet is really useful. It saves a lot of time. All the contacts are in one place.”
And that’s how he ended up in State College last month covering the Penn State “Blue-White” game as a credentialed reporter for FootballAmericain.com and revisiting his old stomping grounds.
I’ve used the directory my entire career since joining the FWAA in the 1990s, but for more than just calling SIDs. To me, tempering and honing what I think I know about a team or program or association with the clarity of someone who really knows it better than anyone — a veteran beat-writer or columnist from the school or an officer from the organization — is its most valuable resource. Cell phones and email addresses for just about everyone are in the directory.
And every time you consult the opinion or insight of such a person and use it, they remember you. There’s no better way to broaden your knowledge and build your contact list. Isn’t that really what reporting is all about?
That’s why I’m urging current members to reach out to those who either don’t know us or maybe have heard of us but aren’t members. Think of someone in your sphere, then look him or her up and see if they’re in the directory. If not, give them a pitch.
Becoming an FWAA member can’t help but be an asset — both to the new recruit and to you. Because we all know how great being in this association is.
Annual dues are $50. And for that, you get the directory — which is worth it by itself — but also more benefits than we’ve ever had. I’ll just touch on my favorite ones:
- As “Hilton MVPs,” FWAA members get 20 percent off the best available rate at participating Hilton Worldwide properties around the country (includes Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2, Hilton Grand Vacations, Conrad and Waldorf Astoria). Also, MVP members can earn Hilton HHonors® GOLD VIP status with as little as four stays or nine total nights in 90 days, four times faster than normal. I’ve been a Hilton Honors member for years because I love the chain. This makes the deal sweeter.
- FWAA members have complimentary network-wide access to 247Sports.com. Considering 247’s growth recently, I think that asset goes without saying.
- There is no single annual publication that covers college football more thoroughly than “the book the experts can’t do without,” the Phil Steele College Football Preview. I have every copy back to the first in 1995. FWAA members who enroll or re-up by June 12 receive a complimentary copy. Once the magazine goes to print, copies are automatically mailed to active members. That’s a $12.99 value alone.
- New this year: Complimentary admission to College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta and a discounted rate for accompanying guests with your 2017-18 membership card. Plus, half–price membership to the National Football Foundation (which allows you to vote for the College Football Hall of Fame).
- Also new this year: FWAA members will receive $10 off the annual subscription to ESPN.com’s Insider. ESPN.com does not offer any other discounts on this subscription.
Beyond all of these tangible benefits is the intangible one: The FWAA is a brother-and-sisterhood. I feel we are the most cohesive and impactful such association in any major sport. Our members are and have been giants in the profession. And, with all the youthful talent we now have in the organization, that trend will only continue.
Be a part of us and bring others along. I can tell you, the benefits last a career.