The RVA Sports Network is your home for high school sports and more in Central Virginia! We are the home for over 50 live high school and college game broadcasts annually, and producers of the "In The Red Zone Podcast"! Follow us on Twitter at @TheRVASportsNet and on Facebook and Instagram at rvasportsnetwork.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Special Statement From RVA Sports Network Founder Rob Witham

We've missed you!

I'm sure you've noticed that our website has not been updated in some time. We also were unable to bring you our normal in-season broadcasts/live tweeting of high school basketball. Even though we don't have all the answers yet, we can, finally, answer some of the questions.

First, when I use the term "I", it's in reference to Rob. The term "we" references my family (wife, son, daughter) as we all are a part of the RVA Sports Network and its mission.

There are two factors at play. The first has been coming for a long time: the rapidly shifting media landscape. While we've seen the demise of two television station sports departments over the past two plus years, and earlier print deadlines changing how newspapers are covering sports, especially at the high school level, two events last summer significantly affected our budgetary needs.

First, our radio partner, WREJ, was sold to an out of town buyer who has no interest in broadcasting local sports events. We talked with two other prospective partners, but both requested exorbitant amounts of money to broadcast games. It made no financial sense, which is why we became online only last August. Also, budget cuts from Lee Enterprises, the owners of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Mechanicsville-Ashland Local basically eliminated our freelance opportunities there. I have not written a story for them since last July. Please know I'd love to in the future should opportunities arise.

Over the fall, I began to substitute teach in Hanover County, which I really enjoy. But that schedule doesn't work well with being out several nights a week covering sporting events. Add to that the second factor, and you'll quickly see why, save our Twitter ("X") feeds and Instagram, we've been somewhat silent.

In October, 2022, I began experiencing severe back and leg pain and shortness of breath while walking more than 100 steps or so. Intermittent at first, it began to occur constantly a year ago at this time. I began a battery of medical tests that continue to this day. Over the summer, we ruled out any heart concerns, which was wonderful since I am a heart attack survivor (2013). 

Finally, in late 2023, I was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis on my left side lower back, with mild/moderate stenosis on the right. This explains why my left leg seems to tire quicker and why that leg occasionally "drags", as does the foot. By then, which was around the end of Randolph-Macon's football season in early December, walking more than 25 steps brought about pain.

A procedure in early January produced great improvement for my back. It should have, in turn, done so for the legs. It did not. The legs continued to get worse. I continue testing (I get more results tomorrow, February 28), trying to discover why this is happening. Thus, because my biggest life battle currently is, every day, mobility, and, some days, functionality, this is why we have not been able to do our usual live broadcasts, live tweeting, or video highlights on social media during winter sports season. I am in the early stages of physical therapy in hopes of discovering what the new "normal" will be for me.

There have been other situations over the past six months which have played significant roles in our current conundrum, but they aren't necessary for discussion here.

I am grateful to be back on the microphone for Randolph-Macon men's and women's lacrosse at Day Field, in large part due to the elevator in Duke Hall.

Why do I share all this? 

First, you deserve an explanation as to why our website has not updated in some time and why our sports coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has been different and why you haven't seen us at your gym. Second, this is not to solicit pity. It is, however, to inform everyone that, while our mission and purpose remain steadfast, our ability to deliver on them may look different.

I am taking advantage of a lot of time resting in bed looking at behind-the-scenes changes to the RVA Sports Network that, we hope, will help us improve our coverage and our commitment to local sports, no matter what that "new normal" looks like. Right now, the goal is to continue our efforts on social media with the hope of being at some selected games during this spring sports season, and, ultimately, being back on a regular basis by the start of the 2024-25 high school and college sports seasons come late August. This will all depend on my physical condition, and our future fiscal situation.

I want to personally thank my wife, Bonnie, the owner of HCS Media, LLC, my son Robbie (and by extension, the three little lights of my life, Robbie IV, Brooklyn and Dakota, my grandchildren whom you see below), and my daughter Rachel for their support and understanding through all of the medical uncertainty. 

As the situations warrant, I will share updates on my condition, and our plans. For now, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I've missed you all dearly.

Go Teams!

Rob Witham
COO/Founder, RVA Sports Network

(Left to right: Dakota (age 3), Robbie IV (age 6), Brooklyn (age 4))