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It was still early Saturday morning and the bucolic atmosphere - gentle breeze, sun rising in the distance beyond the foliage still hanging on - belied the urgency around Bill Mignault Field. And the teams hadn't even arrived.
No, this was the hour of final preparations for The Day's sophisticated web broadcast of New London-Ledyard football. Frankly, those of us involved from the start were almost giddy, even though occasional crises kept arising like pop up ads.
Ralph needs this, Tim needs that. There's no sound. How could we have no sound? That mike doesn't work. No height and weight on the rosters? C'mon. The New London quarterback is limping. Who plays now? Need to put mikes on the coaches. Where are they. What's the WiFi password again?
Yet through it all, I kept thinking this: I was lucky to be in that place at that time and smart enough to know I ought to enjoy it.
A memorable day. Some final thoughts:
• Tremendous moment before the game. Public address announcer Don MacKenzie alerts the crowd The Day will be rebroadcasting the game twice. He says something else about the effort involved and says, "Let's hear it for The Day!"
Cheers all around.
That's the first time in 20 years I recall cheers for the ol' Day Paper.
And it lasted for a good 10 minutes, right until the second TV timeout or so delayed the flow of the game. Then they all began moaning about us (and yelling at some of us) again, making everything right in the world.
Although I must admit: You people complain if local sports isn't covered. Then when it's covered in a more sophisticated way it's ever been ... you complain.
Do me a favor: Pick one.
• Best part of the day: Watching New London mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. Mr. Mayor, on hand as part of a friendly bet with Ledyard mayor John Rodolico, watched the entire game from the New London bleachers. Right in the middle of everyone. Cheering along on every play, talking to everyone, wearing his green New London sweatshirt.
I can't tell you the number of people who mentioned how much they appreciated that, what a good guy he seemed to be. Some public opinion about him changed for the better Saturday. I'm not kidding.
And once again, it's sports to the rescue. They unite us. City folk can disagree all they want politically. But they all love the Whalers. It's not a massive piece of real estate. But it's called common ground. A great place to start.
• Some applause, please, for play-by-play voices Mike Ratte and Casey O'Neill. I get that the nation's pastime, aside from yelling on talk radio, is to kill sports announcers for perceived biases and all-around dimwittedness. But it's not so easy calling a game with directors and producers barking in your ear. They got every pronunciation right. They were understated. No nonsensical, ESPN shtick. Magnificent work.
• Postgame next from New London coach Duane Maranda: "Ackee Barber was Willis Reed today!"
(Don't make me explain that. It's why God created Google.)
• Wish you all could have seen the production truck. Awash in gadgetry. Then on one wall: mini TV screens dedicated to various cameras. Think of Best Buy when all the TVs are on one channel. Only you're in a trailer that has the basic square footage of the bathroom. Not the master bathroom, either.
It's nothing new to the producers and directors. But a thrill for a goober like yours truly.
• Perspective always helps, too. After the game, I drove to Boston for the BC-Notre Dame game. Met my college pals at John Fox's house in Needham. Fox is one of my best friends in the world. His children have chosen to decorate the downstairs bathroom with population numbers from countries throughout the world.
And so as I was washing my hands before departure, I learned there are 159 million people in Bangladesh.
And 159 million people who couldn't have cared less that had we just streamed high school football like never before.
It's a big world after all.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.