A great disturbance in the force

If you’re a coach, parent, or student involved with high school sports, you may know of a site called HighSchoolSports.net. It’s a service used by many schools, including the ones in my town, to manage information about teams and schedules. For the elmcity project it’s been a stalwart provider of iCalendar feeds, enabling me to show high school and middle school contests — soccer, football, lacrosse, swimming, etc. — on community-wide calendars in many cities.

Until recently.

One day I noticed a flood of errors from the HighSchoolSports.net feeds. USA Today, it turns out, had acquired HighSchoolSports.net. At first I hoped the errors were just a redirection snag. But when I visited the new site, at usatodayhss.com, I was shocked to see that the iCalendar feature had evidently been removed.

Could that really be true? I wrote to ask; here is the reply.

Thank you for contacting us regarding the iCal feature that was once located on HighSchoolSports.net

The iCal feature, for syncing to personal calendars, is no longer an available feature on USATodayhss.com

We will be launching a mobile version of USATodayhss.com in the very near future. With this mobile feature, you will be able to check schedules on the go with your smart phones or any available internet connective devices.

It was as if a million voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

USA Today, please reconsider. You are now the steward of data flows that matter to thousands of communities. The data is of a specific type. There is a longstanding standard Internet way to enable that specific type of data to syndicate not only to personal calendars but also to community calendars. A mobile app will be a nice addition. But it is not a replacement for standard data feeds that can syndicate into a variety of contexts.

12 thoughts on “A great disturbance in the force

  1. Karen Lopez (@datachick)

    I’m betting that they are doing this for advertising reasons. A calendar feed doesn’t have ads. It could, but it would be just text. No falshy, in your face ads.

    A mobile app can deliver a constant stream of ads as well as let them measure who, when, where, and how it was seen.

    Delivering data by itself isn’t a direct profit center.

    Reply
    1. Jon Udell Post author

      Depends how you define an ad. In this I’d define it in terms of referral. You syndicate a calendar with dates, times, and titles, plus links to detail. Now those links can go anywhere, you can track referrals from them, the details pages can show ads, solicit membership, etc.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: » The end of calendar feeds. Gordon's shares

  3. Jeff Gilbert

    Jon, USA Today gets this schedule data because they provide high schools with an administrative tool that makes schedule data management easier. I think they made a mistake by cutting off the data too. My company, bigteams.com has a somewhat similar platform. Can we talk on the phone? Please see: http://sdeassociation.org. I believe we can really help each other.

    Reply
  4. Heidi Edwards Dunn

    John Stark Regional High School in Weare, NH is now using digitalsports.com. Their was some administrative issue with highschoolsports.net. I haven’t explored the site enough to know about its calendar capabilities, though…

    Reply
  5. Pingback: The everyday exchange of virtual objects | Jon Udell

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