Way to go, Jason!
InterMat's Bryant named WIN Journalist of the Year
DATE: 8/7/2007 12:47:00 PM
By Mike Finn
In a sense, Jason Bryant introduced wrestling, the world?s oldest sport, to the 21st century ? and all the latest forms of journalistic technology.
For beginning in 1997, two years after Bryant fell in love with wrestling ? ?It was a Wednesday night in January of 1995 when after I saw a pin at 145 pounds that I told a buddy, ?Hey, I like this sport,? ? recalled this native of Poquoson, Va. ? that he started becoming a voice of wrestling by posting his thoughts on the internet.
?With the web, it was like the scene in the movie, ?Gremlins,? where the guy throws the creature in the water and everything multiplies and explodes,? said Bryant, who soon found himself sharing opinions with other wrestling fans in this modern medium.
But unlike other internet posters, who use screen names like ?OUcat? and ?tightwaist,? Bryant can easily be found because he simply goes by ?Jason Bryant.?
?Initially, it was to get my name out,? admitted Byrant, who did not mind people know his opinions or identity. ?TheMat.com message boards got to a point where people wanted to know what this Jason Bryant had to say and I was only about 18 years old at the time.?
Nearly a decade later, the 27-year-old Bryant can still be found on the internet, but in a much more professional on-line setting: InterMat, which was purchased in 2005 by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, which hired Bryant to make the website an integral part of every wrestling fan?s life.
And at a time when college wrestling continues to be threatened by universities cutting the sport for Title IX (Fresno State and Oregon) and APR (Eastern Illinois) reasons, it is Bryant who is out there exposing the fallacies of these decisions when most national media outlets ignore the crisis.
And it is Bryant?s reporting of wrestling and ability to offer his opinion, which have garnered him W.I.N. Magazine?s Journalist of the Year award for 2007.
?I like being in the spotlight a little bit, but if I can help wrestling by creating better coverage and writing hard-hitting stories I like that,? said Bryant, who moved to Lancaster, Pa., when he took the job, ?I can reach more people because of the internet, because anyone can get on the internet.?
By keyboarding the letters, ?intermatwrestle.com,? wrestling fans can keep up with Bryant, who has taken many university presidents and athletic directors to task for their decisions. That included Fresno State AD Thomas Boeh, who announced in 2006 that he was cutting the Bulldog program, which began in 1962.
?Tom Boeh at Fresno State was one of the most unprofessional interviews that I ever had,? recalled Bryant. ?He ducked my questions, would not return my phone calls and when he returned my email, he did not answer the questions that I wanted.?
But Bryant also has found success in his comments.
?It?s a good feeling when you know you have impacted someone,? said Bryant. ?The Wagner College coach told me my story got their program back. After I wrote a commentary, 48 hours they got their team back.?
Bryant, who also holds the title, ?Director of Media Relations,? for the NWCA, knows that he is more than a journalist.
?I am privy to a lot of information that people do not know, but am not at liberty to discuss it,? Bryant said. ?There is some information that could alienate some coaches in the association. It?s a fine line to cross. I like to do things, but let it develop further and if something passes, I can be ready to go with it.
?When I touch on issues like Oregon and EIU, I have to explain this is my opinion. The organization has its opinion on things. They do things a little more diplomatically. I am a very emotional type of guy. When a school drops a program and I see a scum-bag AD?s response, it annoys me.?
Bryant?s need to express his opinion stems from his fifth-grade hopes of becoming a broadcaster, which led to him becoming a public address announcer for at least eight sports, including wrestling, which he took up as an athlete his final two years of high school.
He soon took on other media forms, including writing for the Newport News Daily Press through his college years at Old Dominion. He also created a radio show, Mat Talk, which covered all aspects of wrestling in Virginia and eventually led to the creation of www.mattalkonline.com.
?I?ve covered just about everything and everyone in college knew that I had an extended run in college,? laughed Bryant.
Bryant has taken his share of shots that came with his position and positions.
?I was worried about criticism,? admitted Bryant. ?It?s a fragile thing when you are young and starting out. It was because it was so early in the internet age and you didn?t have sites popping up every year. I was one of the early ones with Mat Talk On-Line.
?I don?t know if I was the first (to make a national impact) because I was too worried about where I was. The internet was still on dial-up back then. Now I read 50-60 message boards a day. Back then, I was worried about 50-60 hits a day.?
Bryant believes he has a purpose.
?Every time I write a story about a kid, they light up,? Bryant said. ?Wrestling is called the oldest and greatest sport and I believe that.?
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