STANDISH — It’s a coach’s job to figure out how to overcome challenges. Yet, one obstacle that no coach, or any other American for that matter, should ever have to face is a lack of broadband access.

On the eve of a major decision by the Federal Communications Commission that will quite literally sketch what the American broadband landscape will look like for the next decade, we must all take note of the importance of broadband to the nation.

As the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, I have found high-speed Internet access to be crucial to the success of my team, starting long before any of my players take the court.

The reality of coaching at a small, liberal arts college on Sebago Lake is that we will undoubtedly encounter more recruiting roadblocks than a top-tier Division I school, for which players literally line up to try out. As a result, the Saint Joseph’s coaching staff must remain quick and nimble in order to recruit our players.

We are required to be everywhere at once, with a close ear to the ground, in order to catch the next star before he is snatched up by a Duke or a UConn. Up until recently, however, this conventional method had been rather cost-prohibitive. Travel expenses became a burden that no small university could shoulder.

Fortunately, however, a tremendous amount of that pressure has been alleviated by broadband. The e-mail correspondence, application processing, and video conferencing that we employ to attract student athletes relies heavily on broadband access, not only here at the college, but on the prospective student’s end as well.

I have found broadband to be key in not only attracting student athletes to Saint Joseph’s, but in retaining them as well.

My students are truly living in an online world. In order to reach them, I find that I must also be a participant. Whether it be through the Saint Joseph’s Web site, mobile e-mail, or the ever-expanding realm of social media, I must actively engage my athletes online.

The future generations are already in cyberspace; it is up to us to meet them there, and for this, we need the help of the FCC in order to ensure that we have the appropriate broadband infrastructure in place.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski fully recognizes the importance of broadband. The chairman has said that the plan, submitted to Congress last week, will ensure that everyone has the ability to participate in today’s expanding global marketplace (hopefully, that includes basketball coaches as well).

The FCC will propose funds to provide both the access to broadband and the tools and education to help university faculty and staff take advantage of broadband. Teachers, doctors, small business owners, and Division III basketball coaches alike are realizing the benefits and advantages of a web presence.

As more Americans live online, we must understand that all of our growth and success is dependent on reliable broadband connections.


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