Social Media Shrinks the Map for Fans of Division III Athletics


For me, this weekend means March Madness of a different kind.

I’ve made the case before that sports and social media often meet at a perfect crossroads. But this weekend, it’s an ideal intersection for me.

You see, I’m a graduate of Wartburg College, a small, Division III college in northeast Iowa that happens to be damn good at wrestling. When I mean good, I’m talking 19 straight Iowa Conference championships, 7 Division III national titles since 1996, and first- or second-place national finishes in 15 of the last 19 years.

Not quite University of Iowa Dynasty, but we’re getting there.

While it might sound like it, I am not a superfan. If I was, I’d head up the road a few hours to LaCrosse and watch this weekend’s DIII wrestling tournament in person. Perhaps I’m spoiled by Wartburg’s success and only pay close attention when tourney time rolls around.

Another reason could be coverage. Even while living in Iowa, I didn’t get much Wartburg wrestling action in my local paper or TV sports segment. It’s even more difficult living in Wisconsin. In years past, I’d have to rely on a paragraph (at best) or box score to catch results.

More recently, I’ve signed up for fan text alerts and e-mail updates, but those are not very convenient or immediate. The internet has improved access for me and fans of DIII athletics, too. The NCAA even streams live video of select DIII tournament wrestling matches (and other sports), but until this year, it was only the finals. And while it’s exciting to actually watch some of the action live on the internet, Wartburg is not always the featured match, and the commentary is generic at best. 

Enter social media. Fast, easy, fan-specific and collaborative.  

Twitter and Facebook are my best sources for updates on Wartburg College athletics. This was not the case just a couple years ago.

I’ve added Wartburg’s sports news to my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Boom. Instant access to real-time updates from the DIII tournament – tailored to Wartburg fans. Knights’ sports information director, Mark Adkins, provides the bulk of the commentary. He’s a fast, efficient and solid writer, not to mention a passionate ambassador for the college. You have to be. (Side note: I worked with Mark during my brief stint as sports editor on Wartburg’s student newspaper, The Trumpet, some 20+ years ago.)

Other Wartburg fans – and those of DIII wrestling in general – add to the mix through a real-time feed of hash-tagged content. It’s just what I need to get my Wartburg wrestling fix this time of year. It’s also a way to find others with similar interests – alums, current students, parents, etc. For a simple follow, I get their perspective, too.

I’m not there, but I am – thanks to this cool collaboration we call social media.

So while most folks are watching March Madness of a different kind this weekend, I’m cheering hard that another DIII national wrestling title trophy will accompany the Wartburg College Knights back to Waverly.

Thanks for being a fan.