(The following blog was written by Dan Genzler of Sioux Falls, S.D., who writes “The Genz” blog at www.genzmania.blogspot.com).

In a basement office with no windows, newspapers and media guides are stacked in piles atop the desk, nearly hiding the outdated laptop and even the SID as he focuses on a project until a noise breaks his concentration. Flipping his chair around, he doesn’t move but a few short feet as the SID turns to greet a guest to his abode. As he speaks, his feet smack into the boxes of game programs that eat up the office’s limited space. Three of the five drawers in the file cabinet are open with old scorebooks opened on top. “Sorry about the mess, I am glad you stop by, we need to talk about…”

For sports information directors, space is rarely a concern. Except, maybe for the space between periods in a sentence, or the white space that is utilized in designing the “perfect” notes package (eye of the beholder) for the media and others who eat up the useless facts that fill up the PR documents.

Rather, SIDs value the space needed to do their sports PR job.

Many in the sports information business are defined by space and piles — of helping athletes get the proper media attention in the right newspaper or website space and for garnering piles and piles of recognition on TV and radio and across the entire media spectrum. The athletes, coach and institutions are appreciative and often give a follow-up thank you or pat on the shoulder. Still, many don’t understand the long hours and unyielding dedication these SIDs make to push and ensure coverage for those organizations and its players.

Today a former SID is using his “little” blog space to encourage media friends and colleagues to do likewise and find space in recognizing a former University of South Dakota and Drake SID, who will be taking on a major role at the World Track and Field Championships later this month. Yesterday, I found out the Mike Mahon has been appointed as a press officer by USA Track and Field for Team USA at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Aug. 27-Sept. 4.

It is great news that that Mike is taking on the role but not unexpected. He commands great respect among among track and field media, coaches and athletes. His reputation defines a person who goes the extra mile or so to ensure that the media coordination goes off without a hitch.

Mahon’s selection for this role is right and not hard to figure.

As he takes his place at the Worlds, he will find some “friendly” company in South Korea. USD grad and coach Derek Miles will be in the men’s pole vault competition. Over the years Mike and Derek’s path has crossed many times including at the Drake Relays, where Mike was the media coordinator. They also crossed at Olympics Games. And now, they will be in the same space again – this time a “world away” in South Korea.

While we will be cheering for Derek Miles to win the men’s pole vault. He is highly ranked and won the U.S. Championships early this summer, there won’t be a lot of cheers directed Mahon’s way. That is the way it is with sports information professionals like him. Mike’s passion for sports led him into the sports information field. The only attention he seeks is for the athletes and coaches, which in turn, put increasing positive glare on institutions and countries.

The West Des Moines native, who got his knuckles cut in the sports business under another SID legend Ron Lenz (USD, SDSU) in sports information as a student at USD during the 1970s, will be helping American athletes and coaches work through the throng of media attention. He will find the right space to take care of that pile of business. The athletes and coaches will appreciate that space Mike provides them as they strive for championships.

The World Championships is just another of a long line of big time events that Mahon has worked. In a long career, he has been involved with the U.S. Olympic Committee, serving as a press officer for the U.S. track and field teams at the 1992, 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics. He also served as a press officer for the U.S. at the 1991, 1999 and 2003 Pan American Games.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with both USA Track and Field as well as the U.S Olympic Committee over the years and I’m excited about working my first World Track and Field Championships. This is a great opportunity to renew some friendships with media from around the world as well as working up close up with those athletes who will be competing in the 2012 Olympics,” Mahon told me today.

At the World Championships, he will coordinate media interview requests with both athletes and the coaching staff from Team USA along with reporting results back to the media in the U.S.

Mike’s sees this as an opportunity – indeed. But like so much of his work in his sports information life, he will do it with optimum professionalism and a hard focus. He will shine.

At Drake, he was deeply involved in making the Drake Relays one of the truly outstanding international meets. As a result of all of Mike’s hard work he was named the recipient of the Sam Skinner Award in 2006 by the Track and Field Writers of America. He was honored for showing “exemplary cooperation with the media in track and field.” How prestigious is that honor? He was the first SID to receive that honor.

Inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame, the 1976 USD graduate has served as the local media coordinator for the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He also served as the media coordinator for the Drake Relays from 1989 to 2010 and was inducted into the Drake Relays Wall of Honor this past April.

Mahon was also inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame in 1995 and was cited for a quarter century of service in CoSIDA in 2002. He served as chairman of the CoSIDA Membership Services Committee from 1990-93 and also was chairman of the CoSIDA Olympic Liaison Committee in June of 2002.

I want to congratulate my good friend Mike Mahon for being selected for this opportunity. I am envious but proud of a good friend.

Mike was my mentor while I attended USD in the 1980s and he helped encourage my interest to go in college relations and later sports information. As a student, he showed me the importance of responding accurately, honestly and immediately to media requests. I learned from Mike how to work with athletes and coaches. When I received my chance at USD, his guidance served me well in nine years on the SID beat.

So Mike, it is easy for me to find a little space in The Genz blog to recognize you. Believe me you have a lot of friends and colleagues cheering for you. I know the track and field media, athletes and coaches will value your significant experience in dealing with media from all over the world.

Kudos and keep us informed, per your job. Yes, I will yell a cheer for Derek as he competes. But I think I will also feel a little tickle that a friend of mine is helping those competing have a “pro” taking care of their media business and ensuring a pile of coverage. As I watch the Worlds on TV, I know I will look for Mike in the background – even if it is just a glimpse of him at work. Yep, Mike Mahon will be background — where SID types like him thrive and relish the chance to do it.