A Bird’s eye view of sports information

Will Hermens
For the Review Linfield Sports Information Director Kelly Bird grew up watching “Hockey Night in Canada.” Living in Canada throughout his youth, he closely followed hockey and played youth football. His favorite sports team and player are the Boston Bruins and Bobby Orr.
Moving to the United States with his family when he was 9 years old, Bird had to adjust to the different types of popular sports.
“My tastes for sports had to adapt to everyone else’s tastes,” Bird said.
In middle school and high school, Bird participated in football, basketball and track and field. Coming from a hockey culture in Canada, the adjustment took a little time.
His interest for sports, especially football, picked up significantly during high school.
Bird’s passion for sports continued to grow tremendously, and he considered playing college football. He knew, however, that a football career would not pay the bills, so he decided to focus on a new passion: sports broadcasting.
“The job I had at The Oregonian shaped this career a little bit for me,” Bird said of his current position.
After receiving an associate applied science degree in radio broadcasting technology from Portland Community College, Bird worked in broadcasting for five years. His experience landed him a job at KUIK radio station in Hillsboro, Ore.
At KUIK, he learned valuable broadcasting techniques and gained on-air experience covering high school sports games, especially football.
“People can get hired and fired on the whim of station management,” Bird said. “Formats change and you can get fired not for performance-related work.”
After leaving KUIK, Bird landed a job at The Oregonian as a sports statistician.
Bird said the job gave him a new perspective on sports broadcasting and reporting. Additionally, being near professional sports writers helped him aquire proofing, editing and sports reporting skills.
“I gained a well-rounded knowledge of sports, a full width of all sports,” Bird said.
While working at The Oregonian, Bird also held a position at Linfield in sports information. He commuted between both places daily for nine years until 1989, when Linfield offered Bird a position as the full-time sports information director.
“Sports information is a seven-day-a-week animal,” Bird said. “I have to be a historian and work backwards about what has happened. I compile the history of sports at the college.”
Now in his 20th year as the sports information director, Bird has changed the way people at Linfield view sports information.
As part of his position, Bird compiles sports stories, box scores, rosters, press releases and athlete and coach interviews, along with working with media outlets. He also takes photographs, blogs about Linfield sports and more.
Bird said the job used to entail writing five or six press releases each week and sending them to media outlets; the Internet changed that.
“The dawn of the Internet changed the way we [sports information directors] presented the news to people,” Bird said. “It became necessary and desirable to get the information out quicker.”
Instead of seeking out media outlets, they come to Bird for sports information about Linfield and its athletes. Bird said that sports information directors are now their own media outlets.
“The most rewarding parts of the job are getting to know student athletes on a personal level and seeing teams reaching their full potential,” Bird said.
Bird said he hopes to continue adding responsibilities to the position of sports information director. He also wants to further market the Linfield name through public relations.
“Part of the reason for having a sports information director is to spread the name of Linfield College to as many places as possible,” he said.

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